Evans injury changes everything for Virginia Tech, Alabama

 

There have always been bad preseason injuries in college football. It is a physical sport and to get ready to play it at a high level, teams have to get physical in practice. It’s part of the game that teams and fans have to (reluctantly) accept.

But sometimes there are terrible, devastating, injuries that change the entire complexion of a season. The injury to Virginia Tech running back Darren Evans is one of those. Evans, who set the Hokie freshman rushing record with 1,265 yards last season, was the MVP of the Orange Bowl win over Cincinnati after rushing for 153 yards. He is clearly Virginia Tech’s best offensive weapon and his expected return was a big reason the Hokies were picked in just about everybody’s preseason Top 10.

But the sophomore from Indianapolis is now out for the season after tearing his ACL during practice this week.

Now Virginia Tech, as it should, is trying to put the best spin possible on this situation. The Hokies always have a lot of good running backs and there are some talented ones waiting in the wings like redshirt sophomore Josh Oglesby, highly-recruited redshirt freshman Ryan Williams, and freshman David Wilson.

But there is a reason Evans was in the starting lineup as redshirt freshman last season. He is something special. You just don’t replace players like Darren Evans so easily.

This one injury to Evans is going to have a ripple effect in a lot of different areas of college football:

**–If you had told the voters in the coaches poll that Evans would not make it to the opening game, I would venture to say that they would not have voted the Hokies at No. 7. Georgia was a preseason No. 1 last summer but after OT Trinton Sturdivant and DT Jeff Owens were lost quickly to injuries, Georgia simply wasn’t a No. 1 team any more. The Bulldog Nation didn’t want to hear that, but it was a fact.

 

**–You can’t discount the psychological component to this injury for Virginia Tech. I firmly believe that the loss of Sturdivant and Owens changed Georgia’s mental makeup and approach to the games last season. Virginia Tech’s Frank Beamer is a very good head coach but getting the mindset of a team back on track after such a major injury is difficult.

 

**–Think about what this does to the ACC. At the most recent conference preseason meetings, Commissioner John Swofford conceded that his league, while very balanced with 10 bowls teams last season, really needed to have one of its teams make a run at the national championship. The ACC, he said, needs to be in the BCS conversation in November and early December. Virginia Tech opens against No. 5 Alabama in Atlanta on Sept. 5. The ACC really needed a signature win against an SEC power to get the season started. Can Virginia Tech still beat Alabama? Of course it can. But an injury like this makes it less likely.

 

**–Why do I say that? It doesn’t take a football genius to know that Alabama head coach Nick Saban and Kirby Smart, his defensive coordinator, are game planning to shut down the run and force Virginia Tech QB Tyrod Taylor to throw, something he’s not particularly good at doing (2 touchdown passes, 7 interceptions last season.) The injury to Evans makes that a little easier for Alabama.

 

**–All the tickets to the Chick-fil-A College Kickoff have been sold and ESPN’s College Game Day will be here. The hype will be the same. But now the story line, instead of two top 10 teams wanting to get off to a good start towards the national championship, will be whether or not Virginia Tech can overcome the injury to Evans. It is still a good story line but it’s just not as compelling. And fair of not, and it’s not fair, Alabama will not get as much of a pop out of the game if it wins because the poll voters will take into account that Virginia Tech’s best offensive player was not there.

**–Now you have to look at the ACC Coastal race differently. Most people were putting Virginia Tech into the ACC championship game again because so many starters return. Now the gap has been closed with Georgia Tech and North Carolina. And don’t forget that Virginia Tech has to come to Georgia Tech on Oct. 17.

 

But that is one of the wonderful things about college football. Out of adversity, great things sometimes happen.

 

 Nobody thought Arkansas could beat No. 2 Oklahoma in the 1978 Orange Bowl after Lou Holtz kicked a bunch of players off his team. But the Hogs pulled off one of the biggest upsets in school history, 31-6.

Nobody thought LSU had a chance against Tennessee in the 2001 SEC championship game when Tiger quarterback Rohan Davey and running back LaBrandon Toefield both left the game with injuries in the first half. But Matt Mauck, a former minor league baseball player, came off the bench at quarterback and led LSU to a 31-20 win.

 

Will something dramatic like that happen at the Georgia Dome on Sept. 5? That’s why we have to watch.

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129 comments Add your comment

Saint Simons

August 13th, 2009
8:42 am

((((((45-42)))))) hahahahahaha

Ron Mexico

August 13th, 2009
8:44 am

Look for David Wilson to sizzle in that matchup. He’s the real deal.

Julie Clowdis

August 13th, 2009
8:49 am

Wait and see Mr Barnhart. I’m hearing good things about Mr Wilson in practice. Now it’s time for the big stage. David Wilson, remember that name.

Don Ho

August 13th, 2009
8:49 am

Tough break for Evans, hope he has a speedy recovery.

reebok

August 13th, 2009
8:53 am

Sorry about the young man’s injury, and I hope he makes a full recovery. With regards to V Tech’s season, if the O-line does its job, one of those other stud RB’s for V-Tech will step in and have a great year.

Miles

August 13th, 2009
9:02 am

With or without Evans, Bama still wins the game.

Tommy J

August 13th, 2009
9:04 am

Its a shame. But Beamer knows how to recruit. I’m sure there is a no-name kid in that RB rotation who can step up and fill in. If a O-line blocks, most RBS can run.

Roll Tide.

DawginLex

August 13th, 2009
9:06 am

This is a beatdown waiting to happen with or without Evans. Alabama might have the best defense in the SEC. VT will be forced to throw and it will get ugly. The only thing keeping it close is that Bama is not that explosive on offense.

Bama 28
VT 7

Got 12?

August 13th, 2009
9:09 am

Bama was favored by 6 anyway. Bama by 17 now.

Got 12?

August 13th, 2009
9:10 am

Also, Georgia Tech wins the ACC-C.

Scott

August 13th, 2009
9:11 am

We Hokies win games with defense and special teams. Losing Evans hurts bad given his ability to run effectively to extend drives and run the clock. But if another one of these highly touted young guys can step in, we may be able to overcome this injury. Don’t forget about our D.

GTPHISH

August 13th, 2009
9:13 am

Tony,
Thanks for your update, as always. Hate to see a good player go down, even if it may help us. Cant wait for the season to start.

RAMBLE ON!!!

August 13th, 2009
9:17 am

IT’S THURSDAY AND WE HAVE NOT HAD ONE ARTICLE YET ABOUT MOVING THE UGAg vs. UF GAME!!!

somebody at the AJC better get on the ball.

UGA

August 13th, 2009
9:26 am

It will not change the gameplan for either team much. The game will still be smash-mouth football with good defense and running the ball(Don’t forget Bama is breaking in a new QB). Bama wins 24-10, thanks to Julio’s big second half after leading 10-7 at the half.

Chris F

August 13th, 2009
9:26 am

You know I almost feel bad predicting Bama will crush VT. This game kinda reminds me of Bama and Clemson last year 34-10. Although VT is better than Clemson. That game had me nervous mainly because there was so much hype around Clemson and I didn’t think Bama was ready for that yet. However after a season like last year where you lose a very important bowl game i believe Bama will be up for this game. VT is not to be underestimated or overlooked tho, that would be foolish.

GTPHISH

August 13th, 2009
9:27 am

Reminds me of the injury to Tech’s Tony Hollings who, although he was not injured before the start of the season, was on pace to have a historic season.

RAMBLE ON!!!

August 13th, 2009
9:28 am

Actually Tony, if you could look up from the SEC and really studied the ACC and Va. Tech, you wouldn’t make a statement like “He is clearly Virginia Tech’s best offensive weapon”.

…that was and is Tyrod Taylor.

But, using the word “clearly” can fool a lot of people…back to SEC, Mr. College (sic) Football.

PMC

August 13th, 2009
9:28 am

certainly opens the door for Georgia Tech to make a run if they can manage to play better on defense while improving the passing game this year.

PMC

August 13th, 2009
9:30 am

The ACC’s main issue is they don’t just need a team to make a run… they need a team with a HUGH fanbase to make a run.

Wake, Georgia Tech, BC are all relatively small in thier fan bases and that makes for a really empty stadium down in Tampa.

Va Tech travels well. They were counting on FSU and Miami and that blew up in thier faces.

North Carolina has the size but they don’t have the football tradition yet.

Clark

August 13th, 2009
9:33 am

Shut up about the hype. Its buying into the hype of the game that gets you beat (Clemson-Bama 08).

Bama will still need to bring their A-Team on Defense if they want to shut down Tech’s running game. By the way, they too have a cold starter coming off the bench replacing their best offensive player last year.

I don’t want to hear it… I’ll see it live in G-Dome for myself.

Got 12?

August 13th, 2009
9:34 am

UGA,

In an article today, Saban and McElwain (Bama OC) said they may not have the OL personnel to be as run-oriented as last year’s team. Although McElroy is relatively new, we’ll probably pass a lot more out of necessity. In preseason, Julio has lined up at every receiver position.

Clark

August 13th, 2009
9:35 am

And as long as GA Tech runs that triple option crap they will NEVER get a chance at a national title… let alone an ACC championship.

The Wreck is a JOKE.

Tom

August 13th, 2009
9:35 am

PMC, there’s a guy named HUGH that has seats two rows below me, does that count?

DawginLex

August 13th, 2009
9:38 am

It’s Thursday and not one single nerd has posted a comment about last year’s VT game being lost because of a phantom penalty. Also, no nerd has mentioned how much they enjoyed “the bowl experience” of last year’s bowl game. Also, no nerd has mentioned how it is not fair to play UVA every year since they get to major in “Rhetoric” instead of engineering.

Better get busy nerds.

Gen Neyland

August 13th, 2009
9:47 am

Key players out for the year can turn a preseason Top 10 team into a regular season Lower 15 or worse. Just another reason not to jump the gun on the preseason ranking follies (e.g. UGA 2008). Injury happens. Hate it for the injured. I truly hope they rehab and get back if eligibility applies. Sure it hurts preseason projections, but in this case the guy taking Evans place may, MAY, have VT saying, ‘Evans who..?’

GT = Greater Taliban Institute

August 13th, 2009
9:48 am

Ramble on – don’t you have other things to worry about? Like the growing terroist cell GT,GT’s child molesting professors, car jackings, and muggings or preparing for next week’s flag corps tryout? I hear males are strongly encourged to apply!

Bull Gator

August 13th, 2009
9:53 am

TB is right that this injury is a game changer. Everyone already knew that AL would look to stop the run first and make Tyrod Taylor win the game, and this injury just puts even more pressure on VT’s QB. As an SEC fan I want AL to win, but I was hoping for a great game. Now I’m afraid that AL’s defense is going to suffocate VT’s offense, and it will turn into another beatdown reminiscent on last year’s debacle.

whitx2

August 13th, 2009
10:06 am

If the line goes higher than 6, take VT and load the wagon, bet the farm and shoot the moon.

Kid Ray

August 13th, 2009
10:07 am

I don’t like TTaylor as QB to carry a team…manage a game, yes…but NOT to carry a team against a stout Bama D. Only way Bams loses is if they don’t show up a la the Sugar Bowl.

Bama 23
VT 13

The Realist

August 13th, 2009
10:08 am

No Georgia fan knew Knowshon was so good until another injury allowed him in the game more.

No Auburn fan knew Ronnie Brown could run the ball until Carnell broke his leg and was lost for the season.

No Alabama fan knew Shaun Alexander would rush for 285 yards against LSU until Curtis Alexander and Dennis Riddle were lost to injuries.

I don’t buy this stuff about VPI being a bad team now that Evans is out. Let’s face it, on almost every NFL or College team the best place to suffer an injury might actually be Running Back (EXCEPTION: Auburn, who is currently playing with 10 less scholarshipped players than everyone else but has 7 QBs on campus. Chizik was a “good” hire, right?).

VPI will still line up and NOT be a Clemson. And Bama better believe that.

JaxDawg

August 13th, 2009
10:13 am

Unfortunately for VT it does change things for them losing Evans. The only way Bama will get proper credit for beating VT is for the game to be a blowout. A close win will only cast a shadow of doubt as to whether they would’ve won the game if Evans was there.

The Hokies will have a strong defense as usual and I suspect the game will be a lower scoring affair, but Bama should win this one without too much trouble.
Bama 23 VT 10

Pole Smoker

August 13th, 2009
10:18 am

Paul Johnson really knows how to coach the end around move!

GO JACKETS!!!!

PMC

August 13th, 2009
10:18 am

Indeed, Tom, Indeed. Proofreading is a good thing.

Pole Smoker

August 13th, 2009
10:19 am

Saint Simons, you really need to try that Enzyte. I think it could REALLY REALLY help out your “little problem”

GO JACKETS!!!!!

Grantland Rice

August 13th, 2009
10:26 am

The Realist

Good post, often an injury such as this rallies a team. I fully expect the same at VPI

DawginLex's_bunghole

August 13th, 2009
10:29 am

And where are the ugay fans talking about a “decimated” defense, Joe “little” Cox and his highschool record, a “fluke” 45-42 loss, Saint Richt’s righteous behavior, Geather’s and his “special” admit, 101 reasons to be a mutt, murderous professors, kids eating raccoons, poop on the loop, dorm rapings, etc. etc.?

Get busy white trash morons.

GerbilinLex's_bunghole

August 13th, 2009
10:31 am

BobbyGodd

August 13th, 2009
10:35 am

Last year everyone (AJC included) talked about how young the GT, Miami and UNC teams were. VT was the veteran team and won the coastal on a tie break. They also lucked out to have GT early in the year and to have one official make a horrendous call.

This year Miami, UNC and GT have basically the same teams. Tech has to replace 3 defensive line folks but we rotated lots of them that return this year.

The media sees that VT has dominated the last several years and doesn’t want to seem foolish if they make a wrong preseason pick. VT probably finishes in a tie for 3rd in the ACC. Coastal that is. In other words they’ll wind up 5th or 6th in the ACC overall. The loss of this tailback will not change where they’d have finished unless they really go belly up and wind up lower. The backup tailbacks will certainly be close to as effective and if that tiny difference would not equate into 4 or 5 more wins. They are simply the UGA of this year. Way too far over rated to begin with.

Chuck

August 13th, 2009
10:35 am

This post might be counter-productive, but I am proud of everyone here for ignoring the same sad comment of “Simple Simon.” There’s no reason a blog can’t be limited to intelligent, insightful comments such as everyone else here has posted. And by the way, I’m a Georgia Tech fan!

DawginLex

August 13th, 2009
10:45 am

To my special admirer,

Read the paper today? Murderous profs?

15 counts?????

Pot, meet kettle.

ThaMan

August 13th, 2009
10:47 am

Clark – that “joke” put almost 500 yards rushing on a bigger joke. On their home field. On a former landfill between some bushes. Preseason #1. NOW THAT WAS A JOKE! Wear some black jerseys and see how that works out!

ThaMan

August 13th, 2009
10:49 am

DawginLex- who is Lex and how old is he?

mcdawg

August 13th, 2009
10:51 am

do people honestly believe Ole Miss will be better than Bama or LSU??

Homer

August 13th, 2009
10:53 am

VT loses their top running back, Mr. SEC football lists six rippling effects that injury has, and it takes him all the way to #6 to list how it effects Ga. Tech and the Coastal division. The first five all referenced UGA and the SEC. Imagine that.

Got 12?

August 13th, 2009
11:04 am

mcdawg,

Preseason polls are about advertising. Listing Ole Miss as the top ten team has generated a lot of buzz. Mission accomplished.

DawginLex

August 13th, 2009
11:05 am

I LIVE IN LEXINGTON KENTUCKY

IDIOT

LEX IS ABBREVIATION FOR LEXINGTON

Where did you go to college?

m

August 13th, 2009
11:06 am

Alabama couldn’t beat Utah…how the heck to do you think they can Va. Tech?

Va. Tech was not going to win the coastal division anyway….in case you haven’t heard there is a new sheriff in town and his name is Paul Johnson.

Tony, it is embarassing how silly your blog is….you are nothing but an sec homer gomer.

Steaming Log inLex

August 13th, 2009
11:07 am

Is it just me that feels like I lose 10-15 points off of my IQ every time I read DawginLex’s comments on these blogs? Tell us the one about our terrorists again! You’re cracking me up. How bout the ones about our campus muggings? Dude, you’re too funny.

ROLL TIDE

August 13th, 2009
11:11 am

Evans would not have been able to run against possibly the best defense in the nation.

panther

August 13th, 2009
11:11 am

I cant stand that Evans goes down, being such a component to VT’s offense, but it’s not likely he’d be anymore productive against the Tide D than all the other tailbacks combined anyway…they are monsters against the run. Too bad it wont be enough to put this one in the win column for lil’ napoleon saban: VT,20 bama,14