Scrimmage Two Analysis and 2011 Outlook

Editor's Note: Bumped to the front because it's flat out fantastic analysis.

Scrimmage Two is in the books. And the only thing hotter than the sun’s reflection off the West stands’ metal bleachers was David Wilson.  Number Four is something special. Going to wax nostalgic here but I’m glad he’s continuing the line of talented Hokies who’ve worn that number. My freshman year (2007) I bought a 4 jersey in honor of Eddie Royal and now Wilson is representing it well. I know you’ve all read and heard about his playful antics so forgive me for piling on. Full speed front flips during drills, barking like a dog at his teammates for five solid minutes, and singing at the top of his lungs are regular occurrences during practice. Through the two scrimmages he’s looked downright unstoppable. All of his carries have come against the second team defense but watching him drag Detrick Bonner five plus yards after getting popped once already gives you the feeling it doesn’t matter what string is out there. You can watch his 40 yard touchdown run on Hokiesports. He just simply burned everyone around the corner. Wilson led the team last year in all purpose yards with 1,437 (110.5/gm), as the third string running back. He didn’t return any kickoffs in the second scrimmage but I wonder if Beamer just wanted to see how Tony Gregory and Demitri Knowles would do back there. I’ll get to them later.  I think if Wilson touches the ball at least 20 times a game in some capacity he will account for 2,000-2,500 yards.

On to the quarterback. Logan Thomas didn’t have a great scrimmage. Over threw some deep routes, under threw a wide open post route, and floated a ball into a non existent seam down the middle that Eddie Whitley intercepted. He seemed to be throwing off his back foot a lot and wasn’t handling blitz pressure well early on. On a positive note, later in the scrimmage he showed some elusiveness that resulted in the plays being blown dead. We’re due for some growing pains with him this season. The four opening games should be easy enough to get him settled in though. I think we’ll see a heavy dose of the run (crazy right?) with Wilson, Josh Oglesby, and even true freshman Michael Holmes.

Holmes seems to run a little hesitant at times while trying to pick a hole but I’m starting to wonder if that’s just his style. If you watch his high school highlights he doesn’t really try to burn it up field so much as pick the right spots and get tough yards. He took all of the goal line snaps during the good on good plays and looked fine for a true freshman. Another year of getting stronger and he’ll be a solid compliment/power back.

Oglesby didn’t have much room to run today, taking some carries up the middle. He fumbled on the goal line after getting rocked by James Gayle. However, Oglesby continues to blow up blitzing line backers in pass protection. That will be his biggest asset this year.

I doubt we see much of Tony Gregory. While he has the speed, his lower body isn’t strong enough to shake off the first hit. He was in for the goal line set of one offense vs. two defense and got stood up at the goal line with a full head of steam. He also fumbled. After Kyle Fuller picked up the fumble Logan Thomas delivered a pretty heavy tackle on him. It was good to see some fire from Thomas in what seemed to be a pretty laid back scrimmage effort wise.

However, two guys who weren’t laid back were Gayle and J.R. Collins. On two occasions the men in the yellow jerseys went down hard thanks to the D-Ends. Gayle blew by his blocker and ignored Mark Leal’s yellow jersey, popping him good for a sack. He walked away with his hands up seemingly telling everyone, “sorry guys I’m just ready to go.” Later in the scrimmage on a Thomas scramble Collins laid a heavy shoulder to his back sending him down. It’s easy to see that those guys are just itching to explode.

I continue to be thoroughly impressed with fullback Joey Phillips. He’s catching balls in the flat, making people miss, and then lowering a shoulder at the end of his runs. While Tech rarely utilizes full backs and tight ends for anything other than blocking it will be interesting to see if Phillips and Chris Drager catch some balls this year. In both scrimmages Drager has found a Danny Coale like hole in the defense, scoring a touchdown in the second scrimmage.

The first team linebackers had a solid day, as Telvion Clark led all tacklers with eight. I paid most of my attention to Jeron Gouveia-Winslow when the first team defense was on the field. In what’s typical of his whip spot he dropped into coverage on most plays but was never targeted. He came in free on a blitz once and had to respect the play action fake to Oglesby and was promptly up-ended. It was a quiet scrimmage for G-W (besides whiffing a tackle on Jayron Hosley while covering a punt but even the FBI couldn’t catch Hosley if they were the first one down the field). Per usual the secondary looked solid. These guys are simply really talented. Receivers were rarely open and they came up well in support on runs and short dump offs.

The receivers didn’t do anything special in the scrimmage, catching some short passes and screens. Boykin had a 10 yard pick up off a screen. We already know what we’re going to get out of the veterans. I think it would be beneficial to redshirt Dyrell Roberts. It’s not that he isn’t ready to play because he looks great and added some size. Just with Boykin, Coale, Marcus Davis, and then the tight ends and running backs catching balls I don’t see him reaching his full potential this year. Once all of the seniors are gone next year Thomas is going to need big time targets and Roberts can be that man. Then we could see Roberts, Davis, D.J. Coles, Knowles, E.L. Smiling, and the freshmen (Joel Caleb?) as the receiving corps in 2012.

I was very impressed with the punting today. Scott Demler looked solid and Michael Branthover was a pleasant surprise, booming some kicks. No need to worry about that spot any more. However, I am continually worried about place kicking. Cody Journell struggled badly early on. He drove a 50+ yard attempt into the line and then miss hit a 40+ yarder reminiscent of the same kick he missed in the first scrimmage. He recovered later nailing some attempts but I’m just uncomfortable with him trying kicks more than 40 yards out. We all know Justin Myer has the leg but will he convince Beamer to give him a shot with some longer kicks in games? The last two weeks of camp will tell. I wonder if we’ll see a repeat of the Boise St. game where Beamer just elected to go for it on fourth down if the field goal was long (hey, Boykin ended up shaking his man in the flat and walked in for a touchdown so maybe it’s not a bad idea). One last note about special teams is Hosley firing off the end of the line to easily block a short field goal. He’s a playmaker, but you already knew that.

The offensive line abused the second team defense while opening up some eighteen-wheeler sufficient gaps for Wilson to explode through. Give him an inch and he’ll take a touchdown.

I saved Leal for last because I’m excited about him. He led the second team offense against the first team defense and moved the ball. They had zero success running the ball but he was able to do it with his legs and arm. I don’t know whether to be concerned about this from a defensive standpoint or applaud Leal but he had some big gains with his legs today, sneaky fast. On deeper patterns the middle of the field was left wide open for Leal to scramble. This concerns me because App. St.’s quarterback DeAndre Presley can run. But there’s still two weeks to prepare and I’m confidant Foster will have them ready to spy.

So there’s a quick 1400 word stream of consciousness analysis from me. I apologize if it was a little negative at times but I saw what I saw. What do you guys think about everything?

Comments

On last note

Why were people hating on the MVs? I saw some negativity on The Twitter about them which was off putting. They do a great job creating atmosphere and are thoroughly tuned into the game. Great job, band.

lol #newhoos

They're probably hating on the trumpet section. I know about half of them personally and they can be pretty obnoxious...but in a good way :)

No pressure, no diamonds.

seriously though the color guard is one of my absolute favorite things. they go to town on those hand motions.

lol #newhoos

My Observations

1. David Wilson breaks the first tackle nearly every time. I think there was one time in the entire scrimmage that he didn't create some yards after first contact. On his touchdown run, Wilson ran a sweep to the left, shook off one defender and bolted 40 yards down the sideline untouched for a TD. The kid has speed and he's starting to become more friendly with contact, easily breaking some tackles.

2. Logan Thomas didn't have his best stuff today. On the pick by Whitley, LT3 had Danny Coale open (as is always the case), but he under threw him and Whitley was able to swoop in and intercept the pass. I agree with Joe that a big part of his game will be designed runs, which you obviously can't do if all the defender has to do is 1-hand touch. There was one triple option-style play with Mark Leal that saw Leal keeping the ball before being touched.

3. The defense appears to be far ahead of the offense at this point. The first-team D looked pretty good for the opener in two weeks. Officially, there were 10 sacks, but again that's just 1-hand touch. Still, though, J.R. Collins and James Gayle were always around the backfield causing havoc.

4. On special teams, Journell had a 54-yard attempt blocked and then pushed a 45-yard try wayyyyy right. However, he did recover to make his final two kicks, of 40 and 25 yards respectively. Also, newcomer Michael Branthover was pretty stout at punter, booming multiple balls with a tight, high spiral. Probable starter Scott Demler didn't look bad, but Branthover had a pretty good day.

5. Thanks for the support of the MVs. I saw some of the negativity as well and was kind of shocked at it. As a member of the MV's, we were invited by Coach Beamer to come out and play at this scrimmage. I had heard mostly positive remarks except for a couple mentions on twitter. Even Beamer made a point to mention the band when red zone drills started in front of the North End Zone.

Aside from that, let's get this season rolling already! Less than 14 days!

It's a Miracle in Blacksburg...TYROD DID IT MIKEY!!! TYROD DID IT!!!

Flow

It's also more challenging for the offense to get a rhythm with such a limited number of plays and personnel changing in and out. Our best offensive game last year was against FSU in the ACC Championship, and we ran 71 offensive plays. Of the 96 plays today he first team offense ran at most half.

I bet the new packages, plays and schemes go in during these final two weeks when no one is around to see it.

Great points as always Kevin, I saw the hate for the MVs too, I don't get it either.

About Holmes

I watched all of his high school tapes and I found that is typical of him. I'm not really high on his game after watching said tape, because he does way to many things before he hits the hole and gets north. That IS just his style. He's a bigger and slower version of Mike Imoh. Here's my analysis of him. He's #23 on my list.

http://www.gobblercountry.com/2011/2/2/1969751/national-signing-day-virg...

About Holmes

But he wasn't coached by a renowned collegiate staff like we have here at VT. You have to give him a chance. He hasn't taken a meaningul snap and has only been practicing for a little over a week. Give the kid a little bit of a break here. I trust our coaching staff enough that I believe they seen enough of him that they have confidence in his play. They offered him a scholarship so thats enough for me.

Well we aren't crucifying him, just saying his style might need to be tweaked. I trust our coaching staff too but just because you put on a Tech jersey doesn't mean I'm going be an unconditional apologist for you. You still have to earn it on the field. Not every recruit pans out (read: Hill, Chris).

lol #newhoos

Yeah, I'm just talking about right now

About what he's doing on the field NOW. He's not decisive enough NOW. The future? Who knows. We'll see. I'm just more comfortable with a guy like Gregory who's seen meaningful snaps and who DOES get upfield out there now, because a guy that does what Holmes is doing now is not likely to succeed (read Josh Oglesby early on, and now I'm a HUGE fan of him).

nicely done

thanks.

David Wilson

I got a chance to attend the scrimmage yesterday (Section 14, Row N) and had just finished up an engagement shoot with a couple, so I brought my camera into the game with me. I managed to snap this photo of David Wilson...wait for it...taking snaps.

What do you think the odds are that we see a little wild turkey this season, what with Logan Thomas being a little shaky off the starting block?

Who really knows but I doubt we see it. Although it's not a terrible idea if David can throw the ball at all. We all know Logan can catch so yeah I'd like to see it but it's all speculation at this point.

lol #newhoos

I'd rather see Oglesby behind center

And Wilson on the outside, as the Wildcat usually requires a power runner inside. Although, I've never been against putting Marcus Davis back there. If you'll remember, he started his Tech career back there and was a QB in high school.

This was a tremendous summary of the scrimmage and I appreciate you taking the time to run it. A couple of quick thoughts:

1) I still think that the biggest issue this year will be the defensive line depth. I feel like the starting 4 will be disruptive, but in order to allow Gayle to really pressure off the corner, the Hopkins brothers must play with high motor and command double teams. I don't question the Hopkins brothers ability to do that for 75% of the game. It is difficult maintain a high level at defensive tackle without getting the occasional breather, and right now, the only guy who may be able to give them one that has the trust of the coaching staff is a true freshman. That doesn't bode well. I am less worried about the backups at DE, especially with Zach McCray. Despite being underwhelming in practice, I see him as a high talent guy whose talent will shine once he gets on the field after struggling early to pick up scheme. *SEE BRUCE TAYLOR

2) I think everyone agrees that David Wilson is positioned to be a star this season. At the end of last year, he needed improvement in two areas: 1) seeing the initial hole 2) making one cut to get the hole. Those weakness caused him to take some big hits. If he hasn't improved in those areas, then his durability comes into question. I love Oglesby, but he would be the worst RB to start a game at VT since Lamont Pegues if Wilson goes down. The depth isn't there. If Wilson is better at making one cut and hitting the hole quickly, then I anticipate a dark-horse run at the Heisman. Nevertheless, I really wish Darren Evans was still a Hokie. They complimented eachother perfectly. Dear Shane Beamer. Star tailback needs to be the top non-DT/QB position in recruiting with any scholarships you have left.

3) I hope Logan Thomas comes around. I thought the Cam Newton comparisons were unfair, but he has a very similar skill set to Josh Freeman when he first arrived at Kansas State. Logan has to be able to get the ball out quickly and take advantage of the Hokies great skill at WR. This will open up the running game for Wilson.

4) The offensive line has to dominate early this season. I am really tired of seeing veteran groups struggle until they hit the meat of the ACC schedule.

Viva El Guapo

LT is a question mark

QB play is always critical. I don't want to put too much on his shoulders for a first year starter. If he efficiently manages the game with few turnovers I will be happy. Not expecting a Heisman year, just a decent year. I don't expect him to be a hero.

I hope I am pleasantly surprised but expect there will be some bumps in the road.

I think the D will be better and hope they are great again. I temper my expectations knowing more can go wrong than go right.

#Hokies

No QB is perfect

He is also playing against the Bud Foster D. I expect he will throw some picks during the year. Hopefully it will not impact the outcome of any game.

#Hokies

If only....

North EndZone were 2 stories high of student bleechers... With ample guard railings to protect against intoxication