Monday Mail: A Not-So-Exciting Spring ‘Game’ for Virginia Tech

Welcome back, Hokies. Thank you for patiently waiting on this week’s Monday Mail, which is a day late. I apologize for the delay.

This week’s Monday Mail comes directly after Saturday’s “Spring Game” for the Hokies, which was nothing more than a glorified practice. I was fortunate enough to be in attendance and boy, was I disappointed. It was hard for the crowd to get excited on Saturday, thanks to the choppiness of the practice format and lack of exciting plays.

Nonetheless, Tech’s spring practice schedule is nearing its close, so it’s time to take stock of what we’ve got right now. Let’s get into your questions this week.

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Mike Young Represents Whit Babcock’s Biggest Gamble at Virginia Tech Thus Far

When Whit Babcock settled on hiring Buzz Williams in 2014, Babcock was fulfilling two main objectives — ignite a lackadaisical basketball fanbase and bring in a mercenary head coach who could get the program to a competitive level.

This time around, things are different. Babcock’s two main objectives in this year’s coaching search, as I see them, were finding a coach who can build upon Williams’ recent success and a coach who could maintain the fanbase’s current level of excitement.

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Buzz Williams’ Uneasy Alliance With Virginia Tech Reaches Predictable End

March 21, 2014 was the beginning of the greatest era of Virginia Tech men’s basketball. With the program on life support, director of athletics Whit Babcock dug deep into the Hokies’ pockets to hire Marquette head coach Buzz Williams.

Williams arrived in Blacksburg to all sorts of pomp and circumstance. A press conference in Cassell Coliseum was held for Williams to be introduced.  It was the beginning of an precarious pact in which Williams and Babcock gave each other something they wanted.

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Through Trial and Tribulation, ‘Five’, ‘Med’ and ‘Ty’ Put Virginia Tech Basketball Back on the Map

Normally, it would be hard to justify retiring a few jerseys from a period that netted just three NCAA Tournament appearances and one Sweet 16 berth. But for Virginia Tech, the case can be made with some ease.

For nearly two decades, Virginia Tech men’s basketball was on life support. Between 1996-97 and 2014-15, the Hokies made exactly one NCAA Tournament appearance and only four NIT appearances. Three head coaches failed to take the Hokies to the Big Dance and the only one that did, Seth Greenberg, seemingly underachieved during his tenure and left the program in tatters in 2012.

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An Abundance of Options Offers No Guarantee for Virginia Tech at Running Back

Has any position been as underwhelming as running back over the last few seasons for Virginia Tech?

Here’s a list of Virginia Tech’s leading running backs from 2003-2011: Kevin Jones, Mike Imoh, Cedric Humes, Branden Ore (twice), Darren Evans (twice), Ryan Williams and David Wilson.

Among that group are five 1,000-yard rushers and a few players who made it to the NFL. Virginia Tech’s backs may have never received a lot of national attention, but the program churned out productive starters nearly every season.

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Josh Rosen Belongs on the Washington Redskins

Josh Rosen and the Redskins are a match made in heaven.

Don’t buy into his 2018 struggles — Rosen has the makings of a successful NFL quarterback. If Arizona takes Kyler Murray with the No. 1 pick in the draft, the best move for both parties is for Rosen to move to Washington. Continue reading “Josh Rosen Belongs on the Washington Redskins”

Monday Mail: Hokies Secure Third-Straight NCAA Bid Amid Rumors of Buzz Williams’ Departure

Welcome back, folks! Spring is dawning on most of the country and especially so here in Virginia, where the Hokies are preparing for spring football and a potential NCAA Tournament run.

With so much going on, we’re due for a Monday Mail column. So let’s dive into your questions.

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Nationals Face an Outfield Dilemma After Injury to Michael A. Taylor

Outfield depth looked like a position of strength in the early stages of spring training. Adam Eaton was finally healthy, after spending most of 2018 either on the disabled list or hobbled following an ankle injury, and the Nationals had three young outfielders that they had extreme confidence in entering the season. But then tragedy struck.

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Acquiring Case Keenum Gives the Redskins Needed Flexibility Moving Forward

The Washington Redskins are one of the most dysfunctional franchises in all of American sports. They’ve continuously made themselves a joke, whether it’s poor management from the front office, lackluster coaching or players worried more about their external brand than learning how to improve as players. We can go on and on.

So when the front office gets something right, it’s important to note it and celebrate it, even if the move may only marginally improve the team’s hope of making the playoffs with its most expensive player likely to miss the entire 2019 season.

To fill the void likely left by quarterback Alex Smith, the Redskins acquired Case Keenum from the Denver Broncos. Denver signed Keenum to a hefty two-year contract worth $36 million last year, but Keenum failed to make an impact and Denver’s trade for Joe Flacco made Keenum easily expendable.

But Denver got little value for Keenum, receiving a sixth-round pick and shipping a seventh-rounder with Keenum to Washington. Keenum’s contract had already been restructured and thanks to Denver’s need to ship Keenum, he’ll only count for $3.5 million against the salary cap this season for the Redskins.

The acquisition of Keenum gives Washington a veteran quarterback to add to a room that currently includes just Colt McCoy. If Smith is unable to play this season, Washington now has two veteran options instead of one.

If Keenum has to play, there’s reason to believe he can find at least a moderate amount of success. After several years of middling play, Keenum emerged in 2017 in Minnesota, starting 14 games and completing 67.6 percent of his throws for 3,547 yards, 22 touchdowns and just seven interceptions. The Vikings ended up moving on, but Keenum parlayed his season into the previous deal with Denver.

Last season didn’t go as planned, thanks to a variety of reasons. For one, Denver had few weapons for Keenum to work with and his best receiver, Demaryius Thomas, was traded halfway through the season. Keenum was definitely responsible for his 18-15 touchdown-to-interception ratio, but so was Vance Joseph’s poor offense.

Even if Washington only plans on using Keenum as leverage, trading for him makes sense. As CBS Sports’ Will Brinson notes, Keenum gives Washington all sorts of leverage in potential trade negotiations.

“In the trade market, the Redskins might be interested in Josh Rosen. Without Keenum on the roster, Washington might be forced into giving up some serious capital to the Cardinals in exchange for Rosen. Once again, they can play hardball now. And, more importantly, as pointed out by several followers on Twitter, perhaps the Redskins just landed themselves a nifty little trade chip in the form of Keenum.”

Brinson also notes that Keenum played for new Cardinals head coach Kliff Kingsbury while the two were at Houston under Kevin Sumlin. If Kingsbury wants to start from scratch with Kyler Murray, Keenum is a solid veteran for him to learn from.

No matter how you slice it, the Redskins’ move for Keenum was as wise as it was shrewd. They are trying to make the best of an unenviable situation. Smith is taking up a large portion of the salary cap — approximately $20 million — which leaves Washington severely handicapped. The Redskins have few tools to worth with, but Keenum’s acquisition gives them more options than they had. Dan Snyder and Bruce Allen will never be able to wash away their football sins, but this move was low-key terrific.

Five Position Battles Facing Virginia Tech Football This Spring

Very few positions on Virginia Tech’s depth chart are settled. The uncertainty stretches to both sides of the ball and it hits nearly every single position group.

Virginia Tech’s 2019 spring practices will go a long way in settling some of the uncertainty. It’s doubtful that it will solve any of Tech’s roster questions, but we should learn a bit about what kind of Virginia Tech team we’ll see next season.

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