- David M. Hale, College football
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Here's the basics:
"It didn't seem like Stanford was anything too special for the first half of last year. He was inconsistent, had bouts of drops (like all the receivers), making an occasional solid grab but never really taking command of a game. Then the Boston College game went to the second half. From there to the rest of the season, Stanford shined."
I don't know that “shined” is really the right word. Stanford had an incredible second half against BC, though Virginia Tech still lost that game. He had a big day the next week -- 7 catches, 107 yards and a TD — against a reeling Miami team in a win that salvaged some of Tech's season. After that though?
Against Maryland: 2 catches, 29 yards
Against UVA: 1 catch, 15 yards
Against UCLA: 3 catches, 34 yards
Indeed, his final three games accounted for the lowest amount of production during a three-game stretch Stanford had all year.
The BC and Miami games confirmed Stanford's potential, but they didn't exactly mark a turning of the tide. This is the problem for the Hokies' offense (and really, it has been for two years): There is talent in the receiving corps, but consistency has been non-existent.
Here's a look at the top returning receivers in the conference this year, based on 2013 yards:
1. Jamison Crowder (Duke), 1,360
2. Tyler Boyd (Pitt), 1,174
3. Rashad Greene (FSU), 1,128
4. DeVante Parker (Lou), 885
5. Quinshad Davis (UNC), 730
6. Willie Byrn (VT), 660
7. Demitri Knowles (VT), 641
8. Stanford (VT), 640
Of the top eight returning receivers, three play at Virginia Tech. That should be a real sign of encouragement for a passing game dealing with transition at the QB spot, but it's also worth pointing out that Byrn, Knowles and Stanford caught just 56 percent of their total targets last year. Overall, Virginia Tech finished ninth in the ACC in passing last year and 10th in completion percentage, despite what seems like a deep receiving corps.
Some of that can probably be blamed on the erratic aim of Logan Thomas, but the history of drops and bad routes among the Hokies' receivers is already well documented.
Byrn had his moments, including 100-yard games against UNC and Miami. He was also shut out against Alabama, had just 15 yards against Marshall and 26 in a loss to Duke.
Knowles had 99 yards against ECU and 101 against UVA. He was also limited to just two catches in six different games.
And yes, Stanford showed his potential against BC and Miami. He's only a redshirt sophomore, so the inconsistency the rest of the season was to be expected. But Virginia Tech is already well aware of potential. What the Hokies need from receivers now are consistently strong results.
Syracuse's returning starters on the offensive line probably shouldn't get too comfortable, writes The Post-Standard.
Virginia's Ant Harris is looking to finish his career with a bang in 2014, writes The Richmond Times-Dispatch.
Ticket prices in the secondary market have doubled from a year ago for Louisville, writes The Courier-Journal. The ACC is paying dividends already.
Former Patriots star Ben Watson is passing the torch to his younger brother this fall, as former NC State tight end Asa Watson signed as a free agent with the Pats, writes The Providence Journal.
The Orlando Sentinel has an interesting look at the love/hate relationship between Jameis Winston and his Alabama hometown.
Non-sports link of the day: For any of you children of the 1980s, here's the story of how “The Noid” disappeared from Domino's Pizza's advertising.
The Roanoke Times is counting down to ACC Kickoff by digging deeper into some of Virginia Tech's impact players, and today's installment features a look at receiver Josh Stanford.