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.

Please follow me on Twitter at:

http://twitter.com/MrCFB

129 comments Add your comment

Joey

August 13th, 2009
11:11 am

Tony, I am sure VT is already dreading that game at GA Tech, what with that overflowing 40,000 count crowd there to get the free hot dogs and Cokes with ticket special. What a joke in a city of what 2, 3 million? What will this game be billed as, Thug Tech vs Thug Tech II?

DawginLex

August 13th, 2009
11:13 am

Hey secret admirer,

When did I mention terrorists or campus muggings in any of my posts? To supposedly be so smart your reading comprehension skills are really bad. Maybe it’s from reading my posts? Your IQ drops every time you read them?

That’s special.

I’d love to have a further chat with you, but I’m not going to waste anymore of my time.

IDIOT

gdawginkalamazoo

August 13th, 2009
11:15 am

Terrible for the kid. It does pose a problem for Bama. The known has now become and unknown. They knew what this kid is capable of, his replacement will be different. VT has always had decent RB’s so I would say that Bama is disadvantaged in two ways. First the lack of bang they get out of the possibel victory and second having to face the unknown RB.

Frozen_Gator

August 13th, 2009
11:16 am

Even with that injury VT should still be a top flight team if the previous hype is true. If the other offensive players, especially the QB, can’t pick up the slack they don’t deserve a top 10 ranking anyway. One player should not make a team, that is true for Tebow (God forbid) and my Gators also.

mansup01

August 13th, 2009
11:16 am

Only the AJC would print an article describing an injury at VaTech this year, and shifting gears to whine about how injuries at UGA cost them the #1 ranking they so richly deserved last year. Good grief.

4DAWGS

August 13th, 2009
11:17 am

ThaMan=ThaMouth

Joke will be on Bees come November. Good luck…your gonna need it!!
Revenge is AWESOME!

More News And Notes | MrSEC.com

August 13th, 2009
11:20 am

[...] injury to Virginia Tech running back Darren Evans is “terrible, devastating” and that it changes the whole complexion of the Alabama-Tech game coming up in just a few weeks.As Auburn struggles to find a quarterback, the man who walked down [...]

Steaming Log inLex

August 13th, 2009
11:28 am

No one outside of Kentucky realizes that Lex stands for Lexington. But thats for the heads up..

Pole Smoker

August 13th, 2009
11:32 am

Don’t mind DawginLex’s_bunghole bitter rantings. He’s just upset that I rejected his relentless advances at me last night to go back to his place with him. He was just simply severely lacking in the ‘personal equipment’ area for my liking. Now Paul Johnson on the other hand, that man has it all and really knows how to work the equipment!

GO JACKETS!!!!!

ThaMan

August 13th, 2009
11:34 am

4DAWGS – you won’t have anything to do with the outcome. I heard the same old crap last year too. LOSERS!

ThaMan

August 13th, 2009
11:38 am

Someone from Kentucky calling ANYBODY an idiot? Now THAT is rich!

ThaMan

August 13th, 2009
11:42 am

I love it from behind!

SecIsFootball

August 13th, 2009
11:43 am

gdawginkalamazoo….While you make some decent points, I dont think the kind of offense VT will run will be a huge surprise. We wont know this kids running style but their play calling will not likely be a whole lot different as far as what type of running plays they will call. VT has not changed a whole lot over the years. BAMA is obviously going to play to shut down the run and challenge Taylor to beat us in the air. He was not that good a passer last year but I suspect that will change a bit as he will get better. Kid is talented. But I think our D will match up well and keep them out of the endzone, regardless of who the back is. I think BAMA will win 17-7. I dont see us scoring a lot of points on their D either.

Saint Nick

August 13th, 2009
11:44 am

Bama wins BIIIIIIIIIIIIGGGGGGGGGG!!!!!!!!!! 35-10!!!!!

Reality Check

August 13th, 2009
11:44 am

It is funny to see the Techies fume and fuss over Tony B. If you don’t like him why do you read his articles? Need a friend or looking for attention? You guys are a waste of skin.

Bama would beat VT with or without Evans (see LSU VT game 2007). I hate to see Evans hurt because he would run through the Tech defense like a dose of salts. Tech DL is gonna be a big problem. Only bigger problem is gonna be the OL. No talent and no depth. CPJ is gonna look like Chan Gailey revisited after this year. All the hype and I mean all the hype for this Tech team is 100% because they beat Ga. If they had lost to Ga it would have been another 8 and 4 Chan Gailey season. Lucky for CPJ Stafford threw a pick 6 and Samuels fumbles a kickoff.

ThaMan

August 13th, 2009
11:45 am

I’ll be at Swinging Richards tonight fellas in case anyone is interested in a strenuous work out tonight!

4DAWGS

August 13th, 2009
11:45 am

ThaMan…

1 win outta 7 makes you nerds winners now. Pay attention to the “way to funny” beat down LSU gave your team of winners in the bowl game last year. I have a feeling you’ll be re-living that nightmare again soon!

Saint Nick

August 13th, 2009
11:49 am

Bama shuts them down……Rolls Tides!!!!!!!!!

Are you kidding?

August 13th, 2009
12:13 pm

Hey Reality…funny how SEC homers forget how the first game in the LSU-VT series worked out.

SEC homers never seem to remember games where the SEC gets smoked. Weird how that works…

[...] wash out a can and fill it up with a more decadent beer. Yeah I’m cool like that.Mr. College Football thinks Evans’ injury changes everything for VT-Bama. And he’s probably correct in saying that now we’re: 1) less talented, 2) suffering a [...]

stockman

August 13th, 2009
12:21 pm

VT sucks. They are way over ranked and this injury should put them towards #20. They will have somewhat of a good season, but everyone does every once in a while.

Tide Rising

August 13th, 2009
12:21 pm

Going to try and be unbiased in my thoughts here. Of course you guys know how difficult that can be for a Bama homer like me.

Darrell Evans- Very special player. He can take it the distance from anywhere on the field and can be equally adept at getting 5-6 yards a crack. Its a huge loss but on the other hand VT is in my opinion an elite program ( one of only 3 teams to win 10 games for 4 straight years). Like most good programs they are 3 deep at the position and this just gives their other 2 talented backs a chance to shine.

Tony gave some fantastic examples of what injuries or the sudden loss of a great player can do to a team’s psyche. They will either rally at the loss of a great player like Ark did in the Orange and like LSU did in the 2001 seccg. Or they will mentally falter and collapse like Bama did in last year’s Sugar Bowl. Or it could be just too much loss of talent to overcome such as in UGA’s rash of injuries last year. In VT’s case they have 2 great backs waiting in the wings. It just depends on how they and the team around them respond and of course we won’t know that till kickoff.

My thing is that with or without Evans I just have a really hard time seeing VT score against our D. We were #2 in the nation against the run last year and most of the D 2 deep is back. I think we can suffocate the run without bringing the safety into the box and even if we do have to bring the safety into the box to stop the run I still can’t see Tyrod Taylor beating us with the pass. I just can’t see it from a guy who has thrown 2 tds against 7 picks.

They have a great D also and I can see their D slowing down or stopping our offense to some degree. But I can’t see them shutting down our offense in the same way that I can see our D completely shutting down their offense, especially now that Evans is gone. The difference is that they now don’t have an explosive playmaker like Julio Jones and that could be what breaks this one wide open. And if anyone thinks Tyrod Taylor is explosive you really need to look at his passing stats or lack thereof. And he is not going to run or scramble against our D either. I’m guaranteeing that he throws 2 picks in this game. Any takers?

Jacket Attack

August 13th, 2009
12:46 pm

I knew Lex was short for Lexington.

dawggirl

August 13th, 2009
12:49 pm

<>

Um, speak for yourself, Tony. I knew it, and I lamented the fact that we were still ranked so high.

Anyway, I will be attending this Bama/Va Tech game, thanks to my Va Tech friend who gave me one of their many tickets in exchange for babysitting. Pretty much a win-win. My thoughts are: never count out the Hokies, especially when it comes to Beamer Ball.

While preseason injuries are bound to happen, I hate to see it happen to a team like this. There are so many other obnoxious fans of teams out there that deserve it.

I won’t be upset if Bama wins, since it’s good for the conference, but I always root for the underdog.

dawggirl

August 13th, 2009
12:50 pm

I was referring to Tony’s comment on the Bulldog Nation not wanting to hear about how we shouldn’t be ranked #1.

Kiffin's A Bozo

August 13th, 2009
1:02 pm

One man goes down, another must step up. Unfortunately, injuries are and will always be a part of football. This is why you recruit depth at each position. Last year, Ingram went down for Florida after being touted as being a major part of the upcoming season. Hernandez had to step up and “carry the rifle” when C I went down for the season in camp. Hernandez did, was a major player in the NC game and should be a top player this season as well. Gotta step up…

IM4BAMA

August 13th, 2009
1:06 pm

Sorry to hear about Evans Hokie Fans. It will still be a great game regardless.

Cuz in Minnesotta

August 13th, 2009
1:13 pm

I think Bama wins anyway. Don’t underestimate the play calling of Saint Nick. After a letdown versus Utah, his defense will have a big chip on their collective shoulders.

It seems that with the shutdown of CPJ’s offense in the bowl game would put some new wrinkles in their gameplan. CPJ is too good a coach not to adapt. I like Tech’s chances at winning the Coastal. It could happen. Barring injuries of course.

IM4BAMA

August 13th, 2009
1:14 pm

Tide Rising- I agree whole heartedly. I see three picks or two and a fumble when he get’s rocked by our linebackers. I think we completely overwhelm their offense and I think we will see balance with ours. I personally think we are going to make several big plays in the passing game now that we will have an accurate passer and with touch on the ball.

chris hanson

August 13th, 2009
1:16 pm

the muggings and robberies in atlanta are being committed by uga players or their friends or family members.

since they arent getting arrest in athens they have to be doing it somewhere.

every single time i host ‘to catch a preditor’ i am able to punk a bunch of uga fans. those dawg fans like their boys and girls young.

most of them wear mullets and chew tobacco like these guys…..

http://mbd.scout.com/mb.aspx?s=140&f=2938&t=4534694

[...] Everybody put your money on Bama over VT! Virginia Tech has lost their starting tailback and MVP of the Orange Bowl, Darren Evans.  Mr.College Football thinks this changes everything and I agree. Everybody put your money on Bama! [...]

Tide Rising

August 13th, 2009
1:30 pm

DawginLex,

We’re with ya. I think about 95% of us knew Lex was short for Lexington, Ky. What else could someone think it was short for? Lex Luther?

dawggirl,

Nothing wrong with pulling for the underdog, especially if they got you your tickets.

IM4BAMA,

Funny how everyone who has watched McElroy notices the same thing. That he has good accuracy and without a doubt he has better touch on the long ball than JP did. JP overthrew a lot of receivers last year. Mac seems to have more of an arc and touch on the long ball. I see the same thing with the dawgs also from last year to this year. Stafford had the cannon of an arm but like JP he often overthrew receivers. From what I’ve seen of Joe Cox its the same thing. He seems to have a little better touch on long balls.

Darrell Evans if you’re out there. Good luck with your rehab. I think everybody wishes you a full recovery.

What is it 23 days and counting?

KillCasualFan

August 13th, 2009
1:32 pm

Where was your article about OU’s Demarco Murray, the nations all-purpose yardage leader, missing last seasons BCS championship… must not fit into the myth of great “SEC defense”… It’s easy to look good in the SEC on defense when you only play 2 above-average QB’s each season… Has Utah scored again?

Question to all SEC mouth breathers … How is it logical to brag about the accomplishments of a rival school? 5-loss LSU fan bragging about the SEC winning a national championship, etc….. AMAZING

Otto

August 13th, 2009
1:47 pm

KillCasualFan, woops is that OU I hear dropping another BCS bowl?

How is it logical? You have up years and down years but even in a down year the SEC champ can win a National Title when given the chance. If you survive to become SEC champ the team will be ready to play for a title. You can not say that about many conferences.

Will

August 13th, 2009
1:51 pm

KillCasualFan,

Oklahoma sucks and so does everyone else in your wack-ass league. The proof of that will be on full display on ABC 9-5-2009, as my dogs kick the crap out of overrated Okie State. Meyer was just playing around with you boys at the BCS championship. They should have beaten you by 35.

Oklahoma will NEVER beat a SEC team to win a BCS.

Nachos

August 13th, 2009
1:52 pm

Alabama’s defense would of stopped him either way.

Gene Chizik? Are you kidding me ????

Tide Rising

August 13th, 2009
2:02 pm

KillCasualFan,

I will not blame Alabama’s sugar bowl loss on missing 2 O-lineman just as you probably shouldn’t blame OU’s loss to UF on one player not being there. Depth is part of what makes national title teams champions.

When you have numerous great Defenses qbs who otherwise would excel in other conferences tend to look very average against SEC caliber competition. Sam Bradford looked pretty average against UF in scoring 14 pts after scoring 60 in their previous 5 games against Big 12 competition. He would look that way every week if he was playing against SEC defenses.

Likewise, average sec qbs like JP Wilson whose offense managed 20 instead of 14 against the gators or Jevan Snead whose Ole Miss team put up 31 on the gators, or even LSU with its less than average qb which put up 21 on the gators, these qbs would look a lot better than “average” if they were playing against Big 12 defenses. As it is these average qbs all managed to have their team score more against the gators D than Sam Bradford and that supposedly prolific OU offense.

As for bama I know we played TT in the Cotton bowl in 06 and completely shut down the TT offense to the tune of 10 pts. Exactly when and how often have the big 12 defenses shut down the TT offense to the tune of 10 pts?

And let’s not even get into Ole Miss putting the whooping on TT or that other big time Big 12 offense Ok St getting shut down by a pac 10 defense.

Be honest about it. The big 12 is a solid conference but they are in no way on par with the sec and the primary reason is because the SEC plays defense. And as the old saying goes “Defense wins championships.”

Otto

August 13th, 2009
2:10 pm

Everyone likes to point to the NFL to determine is a QB is great or not. JP Wilson has signed in the NFL. Graham Harrell is now in the Canadian Football league maybe if he faced better defenses he would be prepared for the NFL.

Chuck Uga

August 13th, 2009
2:10 pm

Georgia Tech is not even close to being an ACC contender. Give me a break. No defense, no passing game and an offense that can easily be shut down with a solid, disciplined defense. 8-4 does not win the ACC, and that will be the best possible record to expect from Tech (which includes a guaranteed loss to Georgia).

DaPoet

August 13th, 2009
2:11 pm

VT is not set back a lot with this.. Calm down..
They have quite a few good guys in waiting.. Evans came in last year to play after the ’starter’ was injured..
Wilson is one helluva RB.. Can do multiple back flips without using his hands, won the triple jump at the Nike Indoor Nationals, 40yd in 4.28 seconds. Junior & Senior year in HS went for 3,842 yards and 52 TDs.. and his team won the state.

Last 5 years won 10+ games, Won the ACC 3x Beat many teams when they were in the top 25..

Lane is one of the hardest stadiums to play in. Period.

Its not end of the world. so no worries..

VT wont finish 3rdin the costal.. they will ocne again win Costal and more than likely the ACC.

Otto

August 13th, 2009
2:12 pm

8-4 can win the ACC. The UGA loss will not count against GT in the ACC.

HaLoDa

August 13th, 2009
2:17 pm

[QUOTE]stockman

August 13th, 2009
12:21 pm
VT sucks. They are way over ranked and this injury should put them towards #20. They will have somewhat of a good season, but everyone does every once in a while.
[Quote]

Soone of three teams to win 10+ games in the last 5 years is every once in a while?

Wow.. the haters come out..

Hokies have sold out their tickets.. and want more..

IM4BAMA

August 13th, 2009
2:18 pm

Tide Rising

You couldn’t have said it any better. These Big 12 guys and Pac 10 guys just can’t imagine what it would be like for their teams to face teams like these: Florida, Bama, LSU, Georgia, Ole Miss, and Tennessee with great defenses and physcial games week after week after week.

Tide Rising

August 13th, 2009
2:20 pm

Dapoet,

Sounds like the real deal. I figured VT was 3 deep at the tailback position so if we beat them hopefully there won’t be any excuses. If we lose I certainly won’t be making any excuses.

Incidentally, Bama had a tailback Jeramie Griffin who also tore his ACL today and is out for the season. He did play some last year but with 2 more highly rated freshman tailbacks coming he was expected to fall back to 6th or 7th string out of 7 tailbacks and maybe move to the fullback position.

Gen Neyland

August 13th, 2009
2:22 pm

KillCasualFan : 5 out of 11 BCSNchamps since 1998 and not losing in any NCG since 1998.

Tide Rising

August 13th, 2009
2:26 pm

IM4BAMA,

OTTO had a great point.

As Bama fans we have a hard time seeing JP Wilson who we all considered to be just an average at best qb making an NFL team but yet he’s on the Falcons roster. Meanwhile Graham Harrell who was a Heisman candidate and racked up all kinds of national and conference passing records at TT has been relegated to playing Canadian league football. Hard to believe but that pretty much says it all. It just means these Big 12 qbs are padding their numbers against truly horrific defenses.

Tide Rising

August 13th, 2009
2:30 pm

General Neyland,

I asked you before but didn’t see if you responded or not. Had to leave. But do you know anything about whether or not Bama and UT are moving to playing their games with both teams in their home colors whether the game is in Tuscaloosa or Knoxville?

Its been done a few times lately in other big rivalries like UCLA and USC. Having seen some colored pics of games way back when it just looks really cool to see Bama decked out in crimson and UT in their orange playing a game rather than one of the 2 teams being in all white.

Dave Ming Chang

August 13th, 2009
2:41 pm

So is this an attempt to highlight the possibility of GT becoming the new front runner to replace VT in the ACC Championship game?

What excuse will the BEES have if VT comes to the hive and steals their honey?

hmmm…..

You’ve got only about 90 something days left to use that lame <>.

Bob

August 13th, 2009
3:07 pm

The Bama/ VT matchup will be another blow-out by Alabama just like the Clemson game last year. I can’t figure out why ESPN Gameday chose to start the season again in Atlanta over GA VS OK State in Stillwater. It is a far more compelling matchup pitting the 2 best conferences that rarely play each other during the regular season.

Gen Neyland

August 13th, 2009
3:21 pm

Tide Rising : I remember answering you with a question mark on the matter. Don’t know. Wouldn’t it be looking rather Fall-ish if we both wore home uni’s..? The only rumble I’ve heard from Knoxville is the jersey may take on a different look, albeit I’m glad to note, same Orange…Also, regarding Harrell. Ole Miss exposed his weaknesses. He made poor throws all day long against them and the announcers noted he wasn’t showing to be NFL material. All in all, spot on.