News and Views: Tech and Falcons’ rivals take a hit

You'll notice that nobody in this picture is on crutches.

You'll notice that nobody in this picture for Georgia Tech is on crutches. (Johnny Crawford/jcrawford@ajc.com)

Ever wonder how two teams fortunes can improve before they’ve even played their first games? Look no further than Georgia Tech and the Falcons. One just saw a conference opponent lose a running back. The other just saw a division opponent lose a wide receiver. Omens? News and Views follows:

♦ News: Virginia Tech tailback Darren Evans suffers a torn ACL in his left knee Tuesday. He’s out for the season.

Why should you care: Because that narrow gap that possibly existed between VaTech and GaTech may have just closed.

Views: Sometimes it’s difficult to gauge the impact of an injury at college football factories. Evans was only a freshman last year when he rushed for 1,265 yards and 11 touchdowns and was named offensive MVP of the Orange Bowl. He may be replaced by another freshman, Ryan Williams, who might turn out to be just as good. But at the very least it cuts into the Hokies’ depth. Georgia Tech coach Paul Johnson has been trying to keep his team grounded.  But expectations just went up a little bit more.

Shameless plug dept.: Later this morning, I’ll be posting my pre-season predictions on Tech’s season. Mark Bradley will be posting his predictions on Georgia. They’ll appear in print in an upcoming college preview section but the electronic world gets it first. (For what it’s worth, I made my Jackets picks, including the game against Virginia Tech, before Evans’ injury. But I’ll leave it unchanged because, I dunno, it gives me an excuse in case I’m wrong, which by the way almost never happens.)

The good news for Steve Smith was he didn't break his foot after he kicked his helmet.

The good news for Steve Smith after he wrecked his shoulder was he didn't break his foot when he kicked his helmet. (AP photo)

News: Carolina wide receiver Steve Smith suffers a significant shoulder injury at Panthers camp.

Why should you care: Only because he’s the best player on a Falcons’ division rival.

Views: Smith feared he broke his shoulder when he collided with a teammate in practice. He didn’t. He says he’ll be ready for the opener. But he’ll probably miss the rest of training camp and there’s a chance he’ll miss the entire preseason. That almost certainly will affect his timing. More importantly, this is another injury for a player whose time-lost has gone up while his production has gone down. He scored 12 touchdowns in 2005. He was down to six touchdowns last season. Smith’s a fearless player, but his body has been taking a beating. He just got less scary for the Falcons’ secondary.

70 comments Add your comment

Angus

August 12th, 2009
6:38 am

VT won’t change much – GT will still have to defend the QB draw on the ever-so-important 3 & 8 in the fourth. Last year, GT didn’t – we’ll see this year.

Steve Smith, on the other hand, has huge implications. He has to be able to stretch the field for the Panthers. Shoulder injury or not, you’d think he’s on the decline – hopefully, the Panthers are too.

A Realist

August 12th, 2009
6:43 am

Not that I want to see any player get hurt during the training camp and pre-season but the news about the Panthers’ Smith getting hurt does potentially help the Falcons. He has always been a strong force for Carolina and a burden to our secondary every time they play the Falcons. Smith is one hell-of-a wide-receiver and an impact player.

Alabama Jack

August 12th, 2009
6:46 am

Even though I am a Jacket through and through, I hope Evans is able to overcome his injury and return next year. He seems like a class act.

SimpleDawg

August 12th, 2009
7:48 am

Did you see Steve Smith kick his helmet after getting up from the hit? Same ol’ Stevie….raw emotion waiting to be unleashed. I wonder which Panther he’s going to beat the $#!+ out of this year?

Bank Walker, Texas Ranger

August 12th, 2009
7:54 am

Hopefully Jake D

BobbyGodd

August 12th, 2009
7:54 am

I truly believed that Tech would beat out VT with Evans and worried more over Miami and UNC. The lack of offensive firepower on VT would lead to several losses. Last year they were fortunate that Tech, Miami, and UNC all were basically playing Freshman and Sophomores. VT was mostly a veteran team and still only won the ACC due to tie breaks. This year would not be so kind.

Smith is a veteran that already knows the playbook and thus needs the preseason far less than other players. Indeed the injury may actually be a blessing for Carolina if he gets healthy by opening day. He want be so banged up to open the season. His production has largely declined because teams focus on his abilities. He is still a top notch receiver.

Mac

August 12th, 2009
7:55 am

Michael Vick will make up for the loss of Smith for the Panthers.

Jeff Schultz

August 12th, 2009
7:59 am

Angus – point taken on VT.

A realist – for a while there SSmith was my favorite player in NFL. Very Hines Ward like in his toughness.

Mac – That would surprise me (even though Carolina has been among rumored teams). Owner is weary of all the soap operas they’ve had to deal with in the past.

JACKETfan

August 12th, 2009
8:13 am

Im with Angus… its not Evans that would worry me from Va Tech, its defending against TT and the run threat… and VT’s defense has always been solid, so they may slow down GT’s offense a bit more than another team. Miami and FSU are games that worry me the most… Both are going to be very solid teams and both will be out for blood against us…

chuck

August 12th, 2009
8:17 am

VT should be fine with their crop of RBs. Hope he gets better soon. Go Jackets!

chuck

August 12th, 2009
8:17 am

BTW, shouldn’t Miami have been out for blood against us the last 4 times?

Wes

August 12th, 2009
8:19 am

Hasn’t GT always seemed to have trouble against mobile quarterbacks? I mean, I know every does. It just seems like they always find a way to just sneak out a win against Tech. I still remember being on the front row and staring straight into Woody Danztler’s eyes as he broke down our defense in OT to win in Atlanta.

Dwyer for H

August 12th, 2009
8:38 am

ouch Wes.. you had to remind me..

Paul

August 12th, 2009
8:40 am

The Smith injury is significant, but I believe Chris Houston is approaching extremely solid to elite CB level. Houston may begin shutting folks like Smith down this year.

79

August 12th, 2009
8:47 am

“Hasn’t GT always seemed to have trouble against mobile quarterbacks?”

Yep….starting with the very first of the “mobile” QB’s, Condredge Holloway…..here, for instance in 1973…

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=M0iFQRCMCKo

GT Alum

August 12th, 2009
8:50 am

Thanks for the reminder, Wes. I clearly remember the Woody left, Woody right, Woody up the middle games as well.. I hope our defense is reading all of this preseason coverage so that they can see how they are constantly getting disrespected in the media. I’m hopeful that they can take that as motivation. Maybe I’m drinking from the Tech fire hose, but I think the losses on the DL will be more than offset by our LB and DB play this year. Go jackets!

DamnGoodDawg

August 12th, 2009
9:01 am

Just when you think it couldn’t get any easier playing in the ACC….then, BOOM! November 28. I hope you kept your ring boxes. You’re gonna have to turn um back in. One 3 point fluke victory doeth not a dynasty make.

Brad in Jasper

August 12th, 2009
9:08 am

Don’t forget Harry Douglas. I don’t think it’s a stretch to say he was an impact player his rookie year, who knows for the upcoming what he could’ve done. We’ll all feel the injury bug before it’s over. Here’s hoping that everyone can stay healthy – Dawgs, Jackets, and Falcons.

Boss Hogg

August 12th, 2009
9:10 am

At least we didn’t RETIRE someones JERSEY (Theron Sapp) because we beat our arch rival.

Jeff Schultz

August 12th, 2009
9:19 am

JACKETFAN – VaTech’s defense is stout, always is. But in a way that’s why I think this injury is huge because losing a No. 1 TB makes a difference in a close game.

CHUCK – The “out for blood” stuff’s overrated. The question is, who has players. Miami hasn’t had them like in the past, but I think that’s changing now.

79 – That was an awesome run (even with mistackles).

Brad – I know but there’s a big difference between Steve Smith and a No. 3 receiver, which is what Harry Douglas is/was.

Volman

August 12th, 2009
9:19 am

What, Mr. Schultz…No Twitter updates from Johnny Dwyer? No text message conversations with Jaybo Shaw? This must pain you to have to write a Georgia Tech blog and not have any UGA in there.

Sun Tzu 7

August 12th, 2009
9:21 am

Based on what I saw happen in the playoffs when Arizona took away Steve Smith his injury could be huge.

What’s the record of INTs in a season? Delhomme could break it this season if he plays like he did against Arizona.

No Steve Smith means 8 in the box… and let’s not forget the Panthers already lost a HUGE part of their defense when they lost that DT for the season.

Jeff Schultz

August 12th, 2009
9:26 am

Volman — I realize it must pain you to finally accept that I’ve never had strong allegiances to either school. Fortunately, I’m a nice guy and won’t make you apologize. Peace out.

Sun — That DT is 6-5, 345 Maake Kemoeatu. You always hate to lose a lineman from Tonga.

GT Alum

August 12th, 2009
9:37 am

C’mon Schultz, we all know this “never had alegiances to either school” crap is garbage. It doesn’t take a rocket scientist to figure out where your allegiance is. Why are you doing the GT piece later this morning and Bradley doing the UGA piece? Shouldn’t it be the other way around??

midnite

August 12th, 2009
9:46 am

Sounds like Smith will be back before Oct. 11 matchup against Washington and Meangelo. Who could forget that 2007 home game with Carolina where Hall got 3 personal fouls on 1 freaking play running his mouth to SS and then went off on Petrino on the sidelines.

ernisTbass

August 12th, 2009
9:55 am

It was Mushin Mohammed that ate the Falcons lunch last year in Carolina, Smith doesn’t have to catch a lot of balls, just draw the defenders which he will because even at 80% you can’t ignore him. You got to sack Delhomme a couple times and none of the recievers will matter. Last year just as the rush got a hand on Jake he got a sloppy pass off to Mush and of he went. The rush has to put JD on his butt and he will self destruct even if Smith is 100%

Otto

August 12th, 2009
9:56 am

Bradley’s UGA predictions? He has posted those in the past and he really knows little about anything in Athens or the SEC. Please tell him to stick to writing about pro sports.

FALCONS SORRY

August 12th, 2009
9:56 am

CAROLINA PANTHERS! IF YOU NEED TO REPLACE YOUR LOST TEAM SPEED WHEN YOU LOSS STEVE SMITH I COULD THINK OF NO BETTER PERSON TO SAVE YOUR WHO SEASON IN THE TOUGH NFC SOUTH THAN MV7 HIM SELF! STEVE SMITH WAS A REAL GOOD PLAYER BUT YOU PEOPLE NOW HAVE A CHANCE TO GRAB UP THE GREAT PLAYER TO EVER STEP ON TO A FIELD IN HIS PRIME WHILE HE HOT! CAROLINA I HAVE NEVER LIKED YOU ALL ONE BIT BUT I CAN NOT BLAME ANY BODY FOR WANTING TO SNATCH UP A FUTURE HALL OF FAME QB THE SORRY FALCONS WERE TOO STUPID TO HOLD ON TO! QB! WR! RB! VICK CAN BE ANY THING YOU NEED HIM TO BE AND STILL SCORE 5 TIME A GAME! IF VICK SUIT UP FOR THE PANTHERS AND GET TO RUN ALL OVER THE FALCONS SIDE WAYS TWICE A YEAR THAT NO COUNT BLANK WILL BE CRYING IN HIS BAGLE LIKE A LITTLE SISSY GIRL! ALL YOU NFL TEAMS KNOW YOU WANT NUMBER 7 LEADING YOU TO THE PROMISE LAND! YOU ALL NEED TO QUIT BEING COWARDS AND WORRYING ABOUT WHAT PETA AND HATER NEWSPAPERS LIKE AJC WILL SAY ABOUT YOU AND GRAB THE CREAM OF THE CROP WHILE THE SUN STILL BRIGHT AND SHINEY!

Sammy

August 12th, 2009
10:00 am

Bud Foster’s defense is what will beat GT.

The Daver

August 12th, 2009
10:02 am

Mr. Schultz, with all this fawning over GT and VT in the ACC Coastal, does anybody remember that UNC absolutely dominated GT 28-7 last year and returns basically their entire starting defense? UNC also had VT down 2 touchdowns in the second half before losing their #1 QB to injury. I just think UNC and Butch Davis might be more of a factor than many people think.

DawgBite

August 12th, 2009
10:02 am

Boss Hogg

August 12th, 2009
9:10 am

At least we didn’t RETIRE someones JERSEY (Theron Sapp) because we beat our arch rival.

No dumbazz! You just gave the entire team rings.

collegeballfan

August 12th, 2009
10:04 am

I am less concerned about the VT QB & RB than the VT OL & DL.
Block & tackle, block & tackle.

Tokyo jacket

August 12th, 2009
10:07 am

Jeff, I actually agree with you. In a close game, the feeling you get in the pit of your stomach as an entire team is different when you’re handing it off to your second stringer in the 4th quarter than the confidence you feel when giving it to your stud RB. Also, I don’t think UM and UNC will be really competitive until mid-year. Even though we play at Tallahassee and Land Shark Stadium, I think the scheduling gods smiled down on us this year. We should be able to do some damage with this schedule.

Doug

August 12th, 2009
10:07 am

GT Alum

August 12th, 2009
8:50 am

Thanks for the reminder, Wes. I clearly remember the Woody left, Woody right, Woody up the middle games as well.. I hope our defense is reading all of this preseason coverage so that they can see how they are constantly getting disrespected in the media. I’m hopeful that they can take that as motivation. Maybe I’m drinking from the Tech fire hose, but I think the losses on the DL will be more than offset by our LB and DB play this year. Go jackets!

Maybe you should go check out a book on football 101 GT Alum. D line deficiencies only create more stress on LBs and DBs. Secondaries always look less effective and give up more when the D line doesn’t win the battle at the line of scrimmage. Elementary stuff GT alum. Stick to Dungeons and Dragons.

Oklahoma St 45 UGA 3

August 12th, 2009
10:08 am

My prediction for Georgia….. Only 2 wins.

King of Sandy Springs

August 12th, 2009
10:09 am

Right Angus,
I think Tech needs to worry about the refs more than Tyrod on the ever-so-important 3 & 8 in the fourth. LAME

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=RFTyMUn1woA

dagnabit

August 12th, 2009
10:11 am

Yeah carolina panthers, grab ole 8 and 8 michael v for us.

JacketSteve

August 12th, 2009
10:19 am

I remember a mobile QB that broke our hearts way before Danzler and Clemson. Charlie Ward and the fast break offense and their run to a Nat’l Title and Heisman the next season for Ward all started with his comeback at Grant Field.

About the VT game. That was lost when a mobile QB was hit INBOUNDS on a third and long play but was given a 15 yard penalty to move them into field goal position and win the game by 3.

Russ Minshew

August 12th, 2009
10:19 am

When does little league baseball start?

Gravy Train

August 12th, 2009
10:22 am

Jeff, funny how these guys forget the digs you tried to take at Coach Richt concerning DJ Shockley, his father, and some kind of clandestine agreement for playing time. I’m sure you’ll keep digging for dirt on Richt. Gotta get those web hits to justify your salary. I know it’s kind of intimidating being a scrawny five footer when you cover guys that actually play sports. I commend your courage, but your jealousy permiates through everything you write.

Jeff Schultz

August 12th, 2009
10:23 am

GT ALUM – I’ve written positive and negative columns on both schools. Feel free to check with Georgia fans for confirmation. But really, it doesn’t pay for me to debate you on this. Believe what you like.

MIDNITE – With one leg and a broken clavicle, Smith would still own D-Hall again.

ERNISTBASS – You’re right. Smith generally has torched the Saints more tha n the Falcons. He has something like 9 TDs against NO and 3 vs. Falcons. But he draws a lot of attention.

OTTO – I’ll let you communicate that to MB.

THE DAVER – Heels are going to struggle on offense.

OKLAHOMA ST – why do I get the feeling you’re a Tech fan?

King of Sandy Springs

August 12th, 2009
10:26 am

Wes,
Doesn’t every team have trouble against great mobile QB’s? Tyrod is no Woody. BTW, guess who was the OC for Clemons when Woody was there? It was Rich Rod. Pat White, too, seemed to give everybody problems.

gte268p

August 12th, 2009
10:27 am

It may still be a tough, close game between Tech and VT, but this injury at some point in the season very well might cause VT to lose a game to another team they likely would have won. That could actually be the difference at the end of the season, too.

juvenal

August 12th, 2009
10:35 am

as much as we admire 7 respect MB, it is kinda’ like the way you feel about SI-also, these gentlemen, by being impartial necessarily means they are not partial to one particular team, & not that by not being partial to your team they are therefore partial to your opponents…

Go tech

August 12th, 2009
10:39 am

Tokyo – I agree with you and Schultz re: Evans. VT just went from the known commodity of an OB MVP, 1000 yd rusher stud RB, to an unknown commodity. There is a good chance the backups may turn out to be just as good, but there is also a chance they may turn out to to be less than the starter. As much as you feel bad for Evans, probabilities say this improved VT’s opponents’ chances.

But I wholeheartedly disagree with you about the Jacket’s schedule. We have very difficult games all season long with the only breaks being Jax St. in the opener and a bye at the very end. We travel to two SEC opponents (SEC teams always say how difficult that is) and have UGA for a total of 3 SEC games OOC – yikes! Look at the Gators. They ONLY play weak teams OOC, and then only at home. This improves their finances to have more home games, and improves their chances at the NC with an easier schedule. They know what they’re doing (obviously) when it comes to scheduling up for a run at the NC. I think Tebow took one look at their 2009 schedule last year and said “Heck yeah, I’m coming back for a run at another NC” We could learn something from them in our scheduling, IMO.

Jeff Schultz

August 12th, 2009
10:44 am

GTE– Agreed. You said it better than I did. As you’ll see when my Tech season predix are posted, it didn’t change my bottom line on the Tech-Tech game but I wrestled with that game. (There’s a giveaway for you.) I still really like Hokies’ defense. But losing Evans has to hurt them at some point.

Juvenal — I navigated the off-ramps in that sentence and I think you’re right on the mark. :)

Jeff Schultz

August 12th, 2009
10:45 am

Oh jeez, did I just insert one of those lame smiley faces? Apologies all around.

Angus

August 12th, 2009
10:52 am

King of SS – not sure if you’re calling me or the refs lame, but anyway…

I want back and looked – it was actually the 3rd & 11 QB draw/scramble for 12 at the end of the 3rd when I threw my remote at the TV as I yelled, “of course he was running – he can’t throw it!!!!”

Yeah, that call was horrible.

Why can’t personal fouls be reviewed? Those calls are the costliest and seem to irritate fans the most when we get to see on TV how bad the call was. So the ACC agrees that a ref may miss a fumble call or out-of-bounds call, warranting a review, but not a 15 yard personal foul? I don’t get it.

45-42, bleah

August 12th, 2009
10:53 am

Hey, Schultzie, how good is VT’s offensive line? Are they top heavy with seniors and juniors, what kind of depth? If they are, wouldn’t that cause the kind of mismatches on the line of scrimmage that can help make a Freshman look like an ALL-ACC. If VT’s offensive line is young or injury depleted, then Tech’s chances for a win should go up.

Pole Smoker

August 12th, 2009
11:00 am

Let me tell you, Paul Johnson is a master at ball control in more ways then you can imagine!

GO JACKETS!!!!