VT's Johnson moving on minus Erick Green

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VT's Johnson moving on minus Erick Green

Leading up to and after the NBA Draft, CSNwashington spoke with several of the local college basketball coaches for their take on certain prospects, but also to discuss the 2013-14 season. After catching up with Georgetown's John Thompson III and *George Mason's Paul Hewitt, today's Q&A is with Virginia Tech's James Johnson.  

Last month, Johnson, who is entering his second year as the Hokies head coach, shared his analysis on various ACC players in the draft. That included his now former high-scoring guard, Erick Green

  • How do you go about replacing a player like Green who led the country in scoring and produced in many different ways for the team last season?

James Johnson: "We have two seniors in Cadarian Raines and Jarell Eddie. They will make an impact. You're never going to replace a guy who led the nation in scoring, but I think we did a pretty good job of recruiting with the guys we have coming in. And I think we have some guys already in the program that will help.

"Hopefully Jarell Eddie can help, improve over the [past year] on the offensive end, help us put the ball in the hole. Raines, we'll be looking for him to help with the scoring load, up his (6.6) points per game average, maybe getting into double digits. Then we have a young man who sat out last year, Adam Smith, who transferred from UNC Wilmington. As a freshman, he had big games. UNC Wilmington played two ACC teams and he had big games, [23] against Maryland in one, 32 [against Wake Forest] in another. I don't know if we're looking for those types of numbers, but he's capable of producing those types of numbers in certain games.

"I think we'll be a little more balanced. C.J. Barksdale averaged I think 10 and 6 over his last 10 ACC games. We're looking at him stepping up. Marshall Wood, a freshman last year, broke his foot. We look forward to him helping us out. He can stretch the floor. He can shoot.

"Then we've got some incoming freshman, especially a couple of guards in particular, Malik Mueller, a 6-foot-3 guard out of Germany. A couple of years ago, he won the MVP of the Jordan Brand Classic. Then we have a kid, Ben Emelogu, who led his team to the state championship game down in Texas. Expecting him to shoot the ball and really put it in the hole. ...His high schools numbers don't really indicate what he can do as far as putting the ball in the basket. They were a very balanced team (several D-I prospects)."

  • How did you get a kid from Germany to come to Virginia Tech?

Johnson: "We watched [Mueller] on tape, at the Jordan Brand Classic. Kurt Kanaskie, my assistant, his son played overseas, in Germany for a while. Just connections, talking to people, looking under rocks. We've got to dig under rocks to find those kind of guys."

  • Granted it's a ways before fall practice, but o you have a sense of a starting lineup right now?

Johnson: "With six* freshmen and one transfer, the lineup is open. They have to compete for a position right now. That's the way I'm approaching it now."

* (now five without Clark)

  • Earlier when talking about the draft prospects, you mention liking the way Raines played against Maryland center Alex Len last season. Could he take another step and be a surprise in the conference next season?

Johnson: "I don't know about a surprise in the conference, but I think he can take a better step forward. Last year was his first as a starter, first year as being kind of a go-to guy inside. He had to kind of learn that role. I think he became comfortable with that and next year take it a step further.

"Eddie is [now] a senior who's had some big games, but we're looking for a little bit more consistency out of him."

College Football Playoff projections: Let's not overthink this

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College Football Playoff projections: Let's not overthink this

Did Penn State play their way into the playoff? Michigan has to be in, right? Did Ohio State fall out of top four? Will Washington hang on?

Following all the action on Saturday, there was plenty of debate over who the top four teams should be. Most of the questions surround what to do with the three Big Ten teams contenders.

Ohio State and Michigan are clearly two of the best teams in the country, but neither of them won their division. That honor went to Penn State who also won the conference championship on Saturday, the same Penn State team who beat Ohio State but who also lost twice this season.

For the first time since the College Football Playoff started, there is a real, genuine debate over who the top four will be.

But not really.

SEE THE FINAL COLLEGE FOOTBALL PLAYOFF PROJECTION HERE

If you're just asking who the committee will put into the playoff, the committee actually tipped its hand last week with its rankings:

  1. Alabama
  2. Ohio State
  3. Clemson
  4. Washington
  5. Michigan
  6. Wisconsin
  7. Penn State

For everyone saying Michigan should be in the top four, well, they weren't in the top four last week, they didn't play this week, none of the four teams ahead of them did anything to hurt their respective resumes, so what makes anyone out there think the Wolverines are suddenly going to vault into the top four? It's not going to happen.

If Penn State were to make the playoff, it wouldn't be over Washington or Clemson who were already ranked ahead of the Nittany Lions and also won their respective conferences on Saturday. Neither team did anything to hurt themselves, so Penn State won't vault over them. Could they jump Ohio State who they beat head-to-head? That seems doubtful considering the committee declared the Buckeyes the second-best team in the country on Tuesday. That tells me the committee sees them as "unequivocally" one the top teams.

So debate away. When it comes to college football, that's what makes it so fun. But really, there's not that much to debate about. The committee showed last week who they thought the four best teams were and there's no reason to think that will change based on what we saw Saturday.

Find out who will make this year's playoff here with the final College Football Playoff projections.

Hokies can't contain Deshaun Watson in ACC Championship game loss

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USA Today Sports

Hokies can't contain Deshaun Watson in ACC Championship game loss

ORLANDO, Fla. -- Deshaun Watson bolstered his Heisman Trophy candidacy by passing for three touchdowns and running for two more to lead third-ranked Clemson to a 42-35 victory over No. 19 Virginia Tech in the Atlantic Coast Conference championship game Saturday night.

Winning consecutive league titles for the first time in 28 years likely will send the Tigers (12-1, No. 3 CFP) back to the four-team College Football Playoff for the second straight year, providing Watson with an opportunity to resolve unfinished business from last January, when his team lost to Alabama in the national championship game.

The Clemson star completed 23 of 34 passes for 288 yards, including TDs of 21 and 10 yards to Jordan Leggett and 15 yards to Hunter Renfrow for a 42-28 lead midway through the fourth quarter. He also rushed for 85 yards on 17 attempts for the Tigers. They've won back-to-back ACC titles for the first time since winning three straight from 1986-88.

Watson's Virginia Tech counterpart, Jerod Evans, was just as impressive. The 6-foot-3, 238-pound ran for two touchdowns and rallied the Hokies from a 21-point deficit to make it close at the end.

The Hokies (9-4, No. 23 CFP) scored on three straight possessions, trimming what was once a 35-14 deficit to seven points on Evans' 5-yard run early in the fourth quarter and Cam Phillips' 26-yard TD reception with just under 6 minutes remaining.

Virginia Tech got the ball back with a chance to force overtime. Evans drove his team to the Clemson 23, where the drive stalled when Tigers cornerback Cordrea Tankersley intercepted a pass on fourth-and-6.