Monday Mail has returned. I apologize for the delay, and I hope you’ll cut me some slack. Thank you again for this week’s submissions and I hope that you’ll continue to submit questions each week.
Alright, it’s time for your mail.
How many WRs will the offense be able to rotate in and out this season?
— Mark Turner (@mytvt3) August 11, 2018
That’s a good question. When Justin Fuente arrived at Virginia Tech, he and Brad Conrnelsen had the star talent at wide receiver but didn’t have the depth they were looking for. Cornelsen wanted anywhere from 6-8 receivers that could contribute.
This season, the Hokies are much closer to that 6-8 number. Here is what Tech’s first and second teams looked like on offense in the open practice last week.
Skill groups from brief skeleton drill we saw:
1: QB Jackson/Willis, RB McClease/Peoples, TE Keene/Cunningham, WR Hazelton, Grimsley, Kumah.
2: QB Hooker, RB Holston/Wheatley, TE Cunningham, WR Patterson, Savoy, Turner. #Hokies
— Andy Bitter (@AndyBitterVT) August 6, 2018
Damon Hazelton, Hezekiah Grimsley and Eric Kumah will all be contributing this season. Hazelton should be Virginia Tech’s No. 1 option and Grimsley and Kumah will produce as well. Phil Patterson did very little in two games last season but given his talent, Patterson should be ready for his third year in the program. Savoy was highly productive in his first season but faltered down the stretch. All five of these players should be ready to contribute in some way.
Tre Turner is a bit of a wildcard. The true freshman missed most of his senior season with a shoulder injury and the slightly-built Turner would probably benefit from a year in the weight room. However, if Turner is cracking the two-deep in his first preseason camp, maybe he’s ready.
CJ Carroll is good enough to crack the rotation, but his constant injury issues could return again in 2018. Carroll gives the Hokies depth at slot receiver and can return punts and kicks, but how many games will he be available for?
Another dark horse is freshman Kaleb Smith. The 6-foot-2, 206-pound prospect impressed in the spring and with the Hokies lacking star power on the outside, everyone is going to get an opportunity out there. Smith might be a walk-on but he was originally committed to Wake Forest and held scholarship offers from East Carolina and Virginia. He’s no slouch.
In short, Virginia Tech should have at least six contributors at receiver this season. Not everyone I named will play well and Turner and Smith could easily redshirt. But the Hokies have options, something they lacked two seasons ago.
1. Who has the stronger arm – Patterson or Jackson?
2. How do the running backs look? Who will get playing time?
1. Why is Davis still in the lineup? Why not move Trey to Mancini to first base?
2. First impression of Cedric Mullins?
— Eric Barnes (@ericcbarnes) August 13, 2018
Judging from his senior highlight film, Quincy Patterson has a lot more arm talent than Josh Jackson. Not only does Patterson have the stronger arm but with time, he’ll have the accuracy and touch too.
Patterson is the prototypical quarterback. At 6-foot-4 and 236 pounds, Patterson has the unique combination of size, arm talent and athleticism. Patterson has all the tools to be a successful quarterback at the college level, he just needs time to learn and hone his skills.
Jackson is the opposite. Jackson lacks elite physical tools and size but is smart on the field and makes good decisions. Jackson has the demeanor of a senior and has an advanced knowledge of the offensive system. Jackson’s upbringing and intangibles compensate for some of the tools that he lacks, like a strong arm or quick feet.
Now we’re cooking with gas — some Orioles questions.
I’ve pondered the same question about Chris Davis. He’s on pace for one of the worst seasons in modern history, batting .160 and slugging just .303. Among qualified players, Davis’ -2.3 WAR is the worst in the major leagues. He’s the worst player in baseball this season.
As bad as Davis is, I somewhat understand keeping him in the lineup. Davis hit six bombs in July and drove in 11 RBIs but has cooled since. Given the Orioles’ youth movement, Davis needs to sit.
Trey Mancini’s future isn’t in left field, as you noted. Mancini is a defensive liability out there and is best-suited for first base. Moving him there now would be beneficial.
As long as Mark Trumbo is on the team, which shouldn’t be long, Trumbo should be in the lineup and in the field. Trumbo’s offensive output dwarfs that of Davis (17 home runs, 42 RBIs and a .790 OPS) and for some reason, Trumbo bats much better when playing in the field (1.091 OPS as first baseman and .921 OPS as a right fielder). Despite his poor defensive abilities, pushing Trumbo to left could help disguise his deficiencies.
It was fun watching Davis mash baseballs for a few years, but his time as come. Davis is nothing more than a platoon bat at this point and is no longer the solid first baseman that he used to be. I know he’s getting paid oodles of cash but at some point, you have to admit he’s sunken cost and move on.
I love me some Cedric Mullins. As a 13th round pick in 2015, it’s not surprising that he’s flown under the radar until this season. Mullins raked in Bowie to start the 2018 season, earning a promotion to Triple-A Norfolk. Mullins continued to play well, driving in 18 runs over 59 games and finishing with a .757 OPS.
Since the Orioles called up Mullins, he’s done nothing but succeed. He’s 4-9 with three walks and his speed has given the O’s an instant upgrade in center field. As good as Adam Jones is, his shrinking range has cost Baltimore defensively.
Mullins may never be a star, but he’ll always be a productive player. He’ll be a solid defensive player and a potential leadoff hitter for his entire career. The Orioles may have found their center fielder of the future.
Could the issues at Maryland happen here? How do we know Cam wasn’t overworked?
— Marc Evans (@me_evans73) August 13, 2018
For those who are unaware of the problems that Maryland is having, here’s a solid recap of the entire disaster.
The ugly truth of it all of this — there is probably borderline abusive behavior going on at every single college athletics program in the country.
Not every program is actually abusive. Not every coach pushes kids too far. In fact, almost every coach in America knows where the line is and doesn’t cross it. Coaches usually know how to push kids without pushing too far. Sometimes, coaches lose control like Buddy Stephens at East Mississippi Community College or Jason Brown at Independence Community College.
In the case of Cam Goode, the word is that Goode couldn’t handle the strength and conditioning program at Virginia Tech. Most kids don’t have a problem, but some kids just don’t buy in. The whole point of summer conditioning for freshmen is to break them down so that they can be built back up properly. It’s a grueling process, but one that is necessary.
Maybe Goode was overworked. Maybe Ben Hilgart went over the edge and Goode had enough. We’ll likely never know, unless other players come forward with similar stories. Until then, it’s not fair to blame Goode or the Hokies. The two parted ways, and that’s that.