On the subject of young players in a young season.
1. Virginia Tech takes 31 first-year players into Atlanta on Saturday to play two-time defending national champion Alabama. As associate head coach Shane Beamer told me on the ESPNU College Football Podcast Monday, the Hokie offense will start rookies at tailback, fullback and -- gulp -- left tackle. They will be trying to protect senior quarterback Logan Thomas from the best linebacker group in the game. That may not bode well for Saturday. But the long view in Blacksburg is getting rosier.
2. Southern Mississippi, after going 0-12 last season, will attempt to return to the living Saturday against Texas State. Todd Monken has a problem common to first-year head coaches -- teaching young players a new system. Monken will spread the field but his receivers are so inexperienced that the offense is hamstrung. Young receivers, he said Monday, “are better with the ball in their hands than they are at route running .They’re better if you can get the ball into their hands quickly.”
3. Monken’s concern is a reminder of the rule I first heard from UCF coach George O’Leary, that the farther away a player lines up from the ball, the quicker he can get on the field. Kentucky coach Mark Stoops, asked to name any new players that Wildcat fans will hear a lot about, named three freshmen: receivers Alex Montgomery and Ryan Timmons and defensive lineman Jason Hatcher. Stoops also named juco transfer Javess Blue. His position? Wide receiver.