Well, it was terrific to meet may @TheKeyPlay posters for the first time, and we revelled in the rapid fire announcements of commitments that hopefully have given us bookends to the offensive line and the next great Hokie quarterback, but I was very eager to see the Hokies run their new offensive philosophy. I wanted this post to go one of two ways.
The post that I, and I would hope each of you, hoped that I would write would go something like this: The Hokies have turned a corner and are working hard to establish an identity that the 2012 Hokie offense will be (insert identity: "hit you in the mouth with power and quick hitting veer option football that forces opponents on their heels;" "dictate the pace of the game by using superior athleticism on the edge to stretch the defense, giving the new running back corps space inside to do damage;" "featuring a new look offensive line that combines superior athleticism with perhaps the most intimidating size and strength we have seen since..." The presence of a Shane Beamer gave me hope... but still my confidence quaked. Even conversations with people who had attended the public scrimmages couldn't cofirm that the Hokies were establishing last year's spread and building on it, or putting in the full 6-7 play package needed to successfully run the pistol. What would they show?
My poisonous pen dripped blood on my notebook as I watched warmups. My mind harkened back to years of observation told me that we would see a scrimmage where the Hokie offense looked like a team grasping for some bread and butter identity. One series would be "let's make Logan look like an NFL QB." The next series would be "we have little running backs, so lets try this pistol thing to see if we can get them to the corner," followed by "well gosh darn, those Clemson boys really bamboozled our defense with all that motion, counter movement, and playaction. Plus we know Logan isn't as fat as the Tajh." Even as Logan Thomas effortlessly (remember when some portly blogger said he had the tools to be the best VT passing QB of our lifetime?) zipped lazerbeams into the waiting hands of a young receiving corps in warmups, I hoped that I would be wrong.
Then, the skys opened up and we went home left with the satisfaction of a great recruiting day, but the daunting prospect of not knowing for another few months.
So, until someone can send me some video of the scrimmages, I am left with the following thoughts.
1) Brent Benedict and Vinston Painter will make for the most physically imposing right side of an offensive line that I can recall the Hokies having in eons. I have no idea how well each will perform, but if they can match their strength with leg drive, the read option veer to the right side will see defensive tackles in the laps of linebackers. Meanwhile, by all accounts David Wang had a terrific spring and will be counted on along with Andrew Miller to pull and block in space. Wang looked TINY compared to Painter and Benedict. If I were a carnival barker and Wang stepped up, I would say 5'9, 265. The coaches love him, but can he handle the big eagle weak nose tackles in ACC play? If not, will Laurence Gibson go back to left guard? And, where does Michael Via fit? I would be stunned if Via doesn't start somewhere, but it may be a scenario where he isn't the guy who gets meaningful snaps.
Also, on the offensive line front, Matt Arkema was taking snaps at center during warmup. A young guy learning multiple positions is an effective way to win the coach's attention, so I am not suprised he was a camp award winner.
2) While the rosters said otherwise, Eric Martin was dressed in a white uniform, with Ryan Malleck and Randall Dunn dressed in maroon with the #1's. I have said all along that Malleck has the best skillset to match Chris Dragers ability to block and be a threat in the passing game, and he is physically much bigger than last year (in which he was wasted as a non-redshirt who barely played.) Don't be stunned if you see Malleck as the tight end, with Dunn as a motioning H-back when the Hokies run the spread with intent to run the football.
3) In perhaps the best news, I have seen several NFL QBs throwing in warmups over the years, and I can't think of a better release than Logan Thomas. He appears to have shortened his motion, and the ball just exploded out of his hands without the long extended wind up. It was effortless (which is a change after the Tyrod Hitch, the Glennon Ouch, and the Vick Pick). I am 100% convinced that we will see an absolutely breathtaking season in the passing game, and Logan to DJ Coles will be a tandem for the record books.
4) I didn't see the corners, but I think WR depth will be an issue. Roberts, Davis, and Coles all have histories of nagging injuries. I just can't buy Corey Fuller as a credible WR threat in the ACC, and Knowles may have jets, but he is, shall we say, slight of build. Besides identity and establishing a consistent inside running game, the biggest goal for the offense is establishing a safety blanket receiver for Logan Thomas. Guessing by the ammount of work he has gotten, the coaches want Randall Dunn to be that guy from the H-back slot, but Dunn has always been a half speed All-American who hasn't been able to make big plays in meaningful moments during game situations. It is his position to lose. Davis, Roberts, and Coles (and Caleb) are all your prototypical, physical outside guy who can stretch the field and win battles for balls with smaller corners. The need to get that safety blanket in place to really pressure the defense.
I'd love to get some dialogue (and a copy of the spring films.) What questions will haunt and hopes enthrall you over the summer months before Labor Day's kickoff against the Ramblin Rec?