Nicknames are important. So are rivalries.
Adam in New Hartford, N.Y., writes: HD, Crash and Burn is a terrible name for VT's backs! I prefer Mount Rushmore, because that can include all of the members of VT's backfield - Ryan Williams, Darren Evans, Tyrod Taylor, Josh Oglesby, David Wilson, and Tony Gregory.
HD: I like it. Less of a negative connotation. What say you, Hokie fans? Wait, what's that? You don't want to talk about RW and Darren Evans anymore? ...
Jeri in Virginia Beach writes: Hi Heather!Please give your honest opinion on the receiving corps of the Hokies. You and everyone esle always talk about Ryan Williams and Darren Evans, but there is more to the offense than that. I wouold like to hear your thoughts on them as a whole not just Boykin and Coale.
HD: You're right, Jeri, there is more to the offense. I think this group of receivers should have its best season to date and will help Taylor go out with a bang. Youth is no longer and excuse. But they can also help those running backs I won't mention. The staff is looking for the receivers to get physical and help out with the blocking. Dyrell Roberts is one of the guys who can keep getting more physical to push Coale. Don't forget about Marcus Davis, who has the ability to make plays vertically downfield, and has been playing faster. He could be another playmaker for them this fall. Across the board, though, they still need to show improved consistency this fall.
Virginia fans are going to get mad if I keep talking about the Hokies ...
Trip in Washington, D.C. writes: Heather, I have been watching the Building of a Program series about the Hoos on CSN and it has been actually getting me excited about Virginia football for the first time in a while. However, I realize there's still a long way to go and a well produced preseason TV show does not replace a lack of talent. What should my realistic expectations be for Virginia this year?
HD: Check out the video, Trip, it should answer your question. In a nutshell, though, I'd say bowl eligibility is pushing it in Year 1. Mike London is doing all of the right things, though, to get there in Year 2. Not everyone in Charlottesville is a Virginia fan anyway ...
Mike, a Cane in Hooville writes: HD: Three things. One, congrats on the addition. Second, I really did not like that last piece on the losses in week one you did. Three, can you do some quick research for me? If G Cooper has to sit for Miami due to his knee, will he be eligible in 2011 under medical red shirt rulings? Thanks!
HD: One, thanks. Two, too bad, so sad. Three, it's the least I can do because of No. 2. He'll be eligible because he hasn't yet redshirted and this would count as a regular redshirt season.
Andrew in Raleigh, N.C., writes: Heather,I've seen several posts across the web in addition to yours that NC State's offensive line has a lot of work to do this year. I haven't seen much outside of local Raleigh media though on the impact that incoming recruit Robert Crisp will have. Since he won't enroll until the fall I know he wasn't able to have an impact on the spring game, but given his recruiting status and large, physical stature, how soon do you predict his presence to impact the offensive line?Thanks,Andrew in Raleigh
HD: From what I understand, Crisp will be given an opportunity to contribute immediately. His size should help him work his way in early. O'Brien said that he's hoping to build "an NFL line," like he had at Boston College, and that they're recruiting kids who have those kinds of skills. Here's what TOB had to say about Crisp around signing day:
“He has really good feet,” O’Brien said. “With all linemen, he is not on the ground a lot. He’s a lot like Teddy Larsen. If you can move your feet, get good body position and you are not on the ground a lot of the time because you have good balance, those are keys to being a good offensive linemen. He has great size and great reach. If you draw up a proto-type body, he has it for an offensive lineman. He has to come in and learn his right from his left and who to block, then he has the physical skills that look he can be a good lineman.”
An SEC fan dropped by to check out my conference rankings ...
Bryan in Auburn, Ala., writes: Hi Heather, I think you are spot on with your ranking of the ACC. As an SEC fan I think the ACC gets an unfair shake in the national spotlight. With FSU and Miami being down that hurts the perception in the media's eyes, even if the rest of the conference is strong.
HD: I'm sure ACC fans will appreciate that, Bryan. Thanks for the note. I'm not the only one giving the ACC a bit more respect this year. Stewart Mandel at SI.com says the ACC might produce the most highly ranked teams this year. Then again, not everyone agrees with me on everything ...
Matt in Roanoke, Va., writes: Heather, How can you say the best case scenario for VT is 2-2 during that 4 game stretch against the coastal teams? VT will have 8 days to prepare for UNC while they play at FSU the week before they play VT. While Miami will be at GT the week before they play VT. Yes, back-to-back road games is tough but 3-1 is a better case scenario.
HD: You make good points, and it wouldn't surprise me to see the Hokies go 3-1 during that stretch, but Miami is going to remember what it didn't do against the Hokies last year in Blacksburg, and this time around it has home-field advantage. I could see VT beating the Jackets because of the extra time to prepare, home-field advantage and wanting to avenge last year's loss. A home win over Virginia has come to be expected these days. But if UNC is still in the mix at that point? I don't know, man, I could see back-to-back road losses. Of course, the Hokies will also want to redeem themselves from last year's loss to Carolina.