2012 Spring Practice

Recruitsburg Recap

Even though the Maroon-White game was a washout (puns, puns, puns), Tech still addressed a lot of its needs for the 2013 cycle Saturday on its biggest recruiting day ever. Four of the six players that committed held UVa offers too (Charles Clark, Bucky Hodges, Parker Osterloh and Braxton Pfaff), so naturally this is appropriate.

Of course this from our very own VTBox. His giffing skills apparently know no bounds. Every frame above is absolutely glorious.

The Hokies could take as many as 6 offensive linemen this year, and they're off to a fantastic start by landing the top two o-line recruits in the state.

Osterloh, a 6-foot-7, 275-pound junior, committed this weekend while in Blacksburg for the Hokies' spring football game.

"I've always felt that Virginia Tech was a great fit for me, athletically and academically," said Osterloh, who is leaning toward a biology major and has been recruited as an offensive tackle. "I was very comfortable with the coaching staff."

Braxton Pfaff  a 6-5 290 tackle from Liberty Christian Academy in Lynchburg, will join Osterloh in Blacksburg. It was a toss up between Tech and UVa to land Pfaff. He was at Festivus last week and enjoyed his time, but lucky for us he picked Tech.

Maroon-White Game Live Blog

Box is running it, it starts at 4:00. Stay dry my friends.

Maroon-White Rosters

They're hot of the press, but were released as jumbo images so here is the maroon roster, and the white.

In past years the teams have been divided somewhat fair, but not this year. It's straight ones versus twos. I'm extremely happy the starting o-line is on the same team. I've griped before when they've been split up. Now we'll get a truer sense of how they look headed into August. However, it's not the truest sense. While our second team d-line is probably better than some starting units in the ACC, there's no denying that they're a step, albeit a tiny one, behind the starters, particularly at the 4th end and tackle positions. Also, I've heard all spring about quality battles between Painter and Gayle, and I'm disappointed I won't be able to see them go at it firsthand. Personally I prefer starters against starters, backups against backups, because I think it's the highest level of competition.

What I'm watching for at the Maroon-White Game

Editor's Note: Say hello to our newest writer, Brian Marcolini. He's a junior communications student at Tech. In 2010 he nearly got into a fight sticking up for Grant Noel, and he once fist bumped Deron Washington's mom.

Over the past three weeks, Hokie football has gone into full hype mode. As big of a Tech football addict as I am, I have been able to satisfy my addiction with two spring scrimmages, making me even more amped for this weekend's spring game. Unfortunately for most people making a trip to Blacksburg for a ninety-minute inter-squad scrimmage is virtually impossible (but if you actually could convince your significant other of its value... I highly admire you). However, this year's game will be broadcast on ESPN3.

Whether you're in Lane, or watching online, never fear. Here I am to let you know what you missed over the past two weeks, and what developments I'll be watching through a rail/tailgating induced haze on Saturday.


This is the Pistol

Since its debut this spring, most of us have been intrigued by the Pistol formation. Personally, I'm still haunted by JMU using it as a vessel for their option and power run game during their last trip to Blacksburg. As demonstrated by the Dukes in 2010, it's an extremely effective "modern" formation for many tried and true offensive plays and philosophies.

In Saturday's scrimmage Michael Holmes broke a little counter run out of it for a 60+ yard score. Let's break it down.

LT3 is lined up between center Andrew Miller and Michael Holmes. Dyrell is going to start moving across the formation before the ball is snapped.

Holmes takes a little counter step. At this point, it's extremely hard for the majority of defenders to key where the ball is going. This is more a benefit of the play than the formation. Logan could give the ball to Roberts on the sweep, hand it off to Holmes, or keep it himself.

The threat of Dyrell getting the ball on the sweep is going to hold the backside end (Tyrel Wilson) for an extra second, and prevent him from crashing down the line and making the play.

In the previous frame you can see Nick Becton pull around play side. He smothers Derek DiNardo, the edge is sealed tight.

First Scrimmage Thoughts

via Mike Barber

A defense dominate enough to make you feel nervous and insecure about the offense, that's Virginia Tech football in April. The headlines are usually the same this time of year. Avid fans know what the offense is working with right now —four new starters on the o-line, rookie tailbacks, veteran-ish receivers and tight ends— but I think we gloss over what that means. It's going to look ugly now. A flawless closing night performance doesn't come right after casting. There's rehearsal, and boy does this group ever need that. There's a lot of talent on offense, what remains to be seen is if they gel, and that doesn't happen overnight.

Misleading statistic that you've probably heard 100 times: 11 sacks in 85 plays. That was mostly the second- and third-team offense getting worked. It's also important to note the defense has their blitz package in.

Notes and Quotes From Yesterday's Practice

The Hokies held their fifth practice of spring yesterday which concluded with a closed 47 play mini-scrimmage. The Frankinator described it as, "ragged," but not lacking in effort. "I think what you have to really be pleased with is the effort and how we worked against each other and our aggressiveness in full speed work. As long as you have effort, we'll get better and that's the important thing."

Michael Holmes was a shining star of the scrimmage and was singled out by Coach Beamer, "The guy who you kind of notice a couple times is Michael Holmes." "He's got good moves, power and speed. He's a guy you kind of notice."

It sounds like J.C. Coleman is enjoying his fill of HokieClubs from West End, "Almost up to my goal weight of 190. At 183 right now. #hypee !" And the Gentrification has only just begun.

The Frankinator mentioned Ethan Keyserling as, "the guy who has been punting well," and Michael Branthover as, "the better guy at field goal." However, the kicking game is still a work in progress. Keyserling had punts of just 37 and 29 yards in the mini-scrimmage. Branthover had a punt of 33 yards, made and missed field goals of 32 and 37 yard respectively. Conor Goulding missed a 32-yard attempt.

Notes From Tech's Second Spring Practice

Here's a brief summary from yesterday's practice. There's not much substance here because it was pretty routine on the field. The Hokies went out in full pads for the first time this morning at 10:45.

2012 signee Drew Harris took in his first Hokies practice.

And Mike Vick is still helping to recruit kids to Tech. Video is via Hayley Salyer.

If Harris is a healthy 220-225 pounds come August, oh boy, the competition at tailback is going to heat up this summer. Harris, J.C. Coleman and Trey Edmunds were all highly rated running backs from the 2012 recruiting cycle and each one brings something a little different to the table.

Three 2013 targets were also at practice: defensive back Kendall Fuller, offensive lineman Braxton Pfaff, and quarterback Bucky Hodges. Hodges now holds ten offers, and says regarding favorites, "I don't know. I'm wide open right now". While at Tech yesterday he tweeted, "Good visit so far".

Notes and Quotes From Tech's First Day of Spring Practice

It doesn't seem like Logan Thomas is really concerned about replacing Wilson, Coale, Boykin, #DRAGERBOMB, or four senior o-linemen. He was doling out compliments and reassurances about the new faces in the huddle.

  • "Those guys will be just fine," Thomas said. "They have one of the best coaches out there in coach Newsome. He'll get them right, get their minds right and they'll be ready to go when that time comes. Of course there's going to be some learning, but I think they'll be just fine."
  • "We've got some experience out wide in our receiving core, and they'll use their knowledge and let the young guys know."
  • "I think he's [Holmes] a lot like Ryan Williams, in comparison," Thomas said. "He's got great lateral movement, and he’s got good quickness straight ahead. He'll make you miss more than he'll run over you."
  • "Also, the backfield, they've got me back there, so if they've got questions they can ask me."

I like that reserved swagger, LT3 is confident in his abilities, and only critical of himself, because he knows he can be better.

Thoughts after Digesting the "Spring Outlook"

BREAKING: SPRING PRACTICE STARTS TODAY. HokieSports.com posted the "Spring Outlook" yesterday. It contains good information from the coaches about what to expect this spring. My thoughts follow, please leave your's below. Football season, if only for a month, is here.

Offensive Line

The coaches are depending on Nick Becton, "coaches want him to be the catalyst for the offensive line," and Vinston Painter, "a key part of Tech's plan along the offensive front," to bookend an inexperienced group. I'm probably reading into things, but it's curious that Michael Via is listed as the third center. I know he's injured, but other players, Bruce, Hop, G-W, etc... are in the order you'd expect them to be.

Brent Benedict is the starter at right guard for now, but the position is "wide open". As I said before, I think the favorites are Benedict and Laurence Gibson, but I wouldn't count out backup left guard Matt Arkema or backup center Caleb Farris.

Coach Newsome makes a great point, "Competing every day against a defensive line that has all its players back will help us." Unlike the last few years, I hope we see ones versus ones in the Maroon-White game so we have a more realistic understanding of where the o-line is at.

Notes Before the start of Spring Practice

Spring practice begins this Wednesday. Once the pads start popping we'll be able to talk more Xs and Os, until then it's more bookkeeping.

BeamerBall.com announced James Hopper's football career is over. He's taking a medical redshirt and will student coach in the secondary this spring, then transition to a graduate assistant this fall. Future head coach at Virginia Tech in 2060, best of luck James.

With BRUUUUUUCE, Tariq, and Telvion (permanently) out, there will be a lot of inexperienced, yet promising players along with new-to-the-position defenders getting the majority of reps at Mike and Backer. Derek DiNardo (Whip/Rover/Safety) and Josh Trimble (Rover) will mover over to Backer. Chase Williams, who's finally healthy, is going to rep at both Backer and Mike. Brian Laiti will have an opportunity to distinguish himself at Mike. I hope we get to watch Jack Tyler and Chase Williams on the field at the same time. They could be the linebacking tandem of the not so distance future, and it would be great to see their on-the-field chemistry.

Hokies Have a New Look Secondary this Spring

Andy Bitter caught up with Torrian Gray who dropped some knowledge regarding the starting secondary this spring, a move "that gives us our best four."

Antone Exum will move from rover to corner. That's a bit of a shock to me. In my mind, Exum staying at rover was the one given in the defensive backfield. Bud Foster had confirmed as much back in February.

"At the safety spot when we looked at our cut-ups, when 'Tone was just able to go out and play, he was unbelievable," Gray said. "When things moved around for him, sometimes it slowed him down. We just want to kind of see if he can do it, 'Hey, you're out here on No. 1 and just play ball.'

"We think it's something worth looking into to see what he can give us out there."

"I'm trying to free your mind, Neo." -- Morpheus

Questions That I Hope Are Answered During Spring Ball

1. Will Vinston Painter step up?

Tackle Vinston Painter is 6-6 303. He was a 4-star recruit. He benches 430, cleans 336, front squats 500 and runs a 4.8 40. Physically, I don't think you could want anything more in an offensive lineman. However, the senior has yet to earn meaningful playing time. If Painter can get it together to have a Cris Hill like final season, it would go a long way to solidifying the depth along the o-line.

2. How will the abundance of D-line talent be used?

Defensive line is arguably the deepest position on the roster. Tackles Derrick Hopkins, Luther Maddy, Corey Marshall and Antoine Hopkins along with ends James Gayle, J.R. Collins, Tyrel Wilson and Zack McCray round out an athletic and battle tested two-deep. The coaches are also very high on Dadi Nicolas and Kris Harley who redshirted at end and tackle respectively in 2011. However, they all can't be on the field at once.