Sunday, December 18, 2011

Sugar Bowl Preview: Virginia Tech Receiving Corps

Guest poster Ryan provides his second Virginia Tech Hokies position group review.
Virginia Tech Receiving Corps
When discussing the most dangerous pass catching groups in the ACC, Clemson’s group certainly gets the most attention. While the Tigers’ personnel might be more explosive, Virginia Tech’s receiving corps should not be discounted. They are a highly experienced and consistent group with precise route runners, great speed and outstanding blocking skills. Like Denard Robinson, Logan Thomas has many weapons to target on a given play. 
Wide Receivers: Jarrett Boykin - #81; Danny Coale - #19; Marcus Davis - #7; D.J. Coles - #18
Jarrett Boykin, WR
Senior Jarrett Boykin is Virginia Tech’s all-time leader in both receptions and yards and serves as Logan Thomas’s go-to receiver. In his career at Virginia Tech, Boykin has hauled in 180 receptions with 2,854 receiving yards. He also has 18 career touchdowns and has averaged just over 54 yards per game and 16 yards per catch in his career.
This season Boykin has 57 receptions for 731 yards and five touchdowns. His best game came against Wake Forest where he hauled in 7 catches for 149 yards and one touchdown. With a 6-2 frame, long wingspan, huge hands, great route running, and good leaping ability and fundamentals, Boykin is the Hokies’ most complete receiver.

Danny Coale, WR
Starting opposite of Boykin is the player ranking right behind him in both career receptions and yards: redshirt senior Danny Coale. Coale’s size, speed and leaping ability are quite unassuming, but his supreme route running and ability to find the soft spots in the opposing coverage makes him open on seemingly every single pass play.  Coale has averaged 16.2 yards per reception for his career and is arguably the most effective deep threat the Hokies have ever had. He also has been a fan favorite ever since his 81-yard reception set up the Hokies’ come from behind victory against Nebraska in 2009.

For the season, Coale has racked up 52 receptions for a team-high 787 yards, averaging 15.1 yards per catch and scoring three touchdowns. He also has served as the team’s punter in the Hokies’ last two games.
Also seeing significant playing time this season is redshirt junior Marcus Davis. Davis is a much larger physical specimen at 6-4, 228 lbs. and like Coale serves as a deep vertical threat. Usually when he is in the game, Davis will line up on the perimeter allowing either Coale or D.J. Coles to drop into the slot. Davis can make all the catches, including the spectacular ones, but his impact and hands have been inconsistent throughout his career.
Davis has caught 29 passes for 499 yards and leads the team in average yards per catch with 17.2. He also is the co-leader with Jarrett Boykin with five touchdown receptions on the year.

The aforementioned D.J. Coles is the final wide receiver who will see a good amount of offensive snaps. The junior possesses the greatest straight-line speed of all the Hokies’ wide outs and coaches like to get him out in space via slants and screen passes. For the season, Coles has hauled in 34 receptions for 449 yards and three touchdowns. His biggest play came on a 49-yard touchdown scoot against Arkansas State.
The one commonly overlooked aspect in each of these receiver’s games is that they all are effective blockers on the perimeter, adding to Michigan’s challenge in shutting down the Hokies’ prolific rushing attack. If the Wolverines’ secondary has to worry about both the run and the pass it will make the wide outs’ job of sealing the outside that much easier as once they get their hands on a defender they sustain their blocks. This makes it hard for the opposing secondary to play press and man coverage, setting up potential big gains in the running and screen games.

Tight ends: Chris Drager - #33
Due to the playmaking abilities of RB David Wilson and the wide receivers, the Hokies’ tight ends do not often get a lot of love in the passing game. That said, the position is still very effective in the running game and can still do damage in the passing game.
Starting at the position is redshirt senior Chris Drager. Drager has had an interesting career in Blacksburg. He started off as a tight end, but was switched to defensive end after his redshirt freshman season and started every game at the position last season. The coaching staff decided to switch the 6-4 player back to tight end for this season, where he has hauled in 14 catches for 186 yards and two touchdowns. Drager is very sure handed (his catches are known as Dragerbombs) so Thomas will often look his way in the red zone or in short yardage situations. He's also an effective blocker as this clip attests.

Eric Martin, Ryan Malleck, and George George (yes, that is his real name) will also see time as a second and third tight end in the Hokies’ two tight end single back and offset I-formation packages in addition to their jumbo package.
Next up, a look at the Hokies’ offensive line.

1 comment:

  1. GO HOKIES! Good summary of our WRS. Danny Coale is my favorite!