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.)
♦ 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.