French and I attended the open scrimmage this afternoon. We wanted to give you an accurate practice report as quickly as possible, hence the following stream of notes. Much of this was written at Texas Roadhouse on our phones, so appoligies in advance for any typos. If you have any specific questions, ask them in the comments and we'll be happy to answer them. If you attended pratice, please leave your thoughts. --Joe
1) 1st team offense ran either pistol or the shotgun almost 70 percent of the time. Pistol featured dual motion, usually with the tight end moving from a set position to a wingback (similar to Clemson's TE Dwayne Allen) and then the flanker motioning to either run or fake a sweep. Also, as the scrimmage moved to 1's vs 1's, the Hokies featured the fullback out of the pistol, starting in an offset I and then motioning to a wing.
2) The offensive pace is MUCH faster, featuring no huddle, and sprinting to the line out of a huddle and going on quick snap counts. The offense uses a tremendous amount of misdirection, and worked well to get quick hitting inside plays (veer, belly, and power.) Logan Thomas looked comfortable, although he wasn't showcased much in the running game. He did run three zone reads, keeping twice, but the runs had more counter action rather than straight ahead power, which I liked to see. They did not run speed option, but used the rocket sweep (motion behind the TB from the flanker) as the secondary option read.
3) The first team offensive line had an excellent scrimmage. Bruce Benedict looks like he has lost more than 30 pounds, and Vinston Painter is sculpted. Andrew Miller, Benedict, and Wang all were effective pulling and blocking in space, and the second effort was outstanding. This is an athletic BIG group of linemen who can really move, yet get movement inside. In pass pro, there were a couple of struggles, especially on the left side with Becton and Wang. Foster got two sacks blitzing the whip and the mike (see the blitz featuring Jack Tyler and Kyle Fuller in The "Blitz" French on the Bench). JGW got both sacks, and Kyle Fuller blitzed once from the field corner spot to force a sack.
I thought that Shuman, Via, Farris, and Gibson really stood out, with great point of attack blocking against the 1's and the 2's. Farris had several nice efforts getting movement on Derrick Hopkins inside. Gibson had a fantastic one armed throw technique knockdown block on a DE who stunted across his face. Shuman looked every bit the part as next year's starting left tackle.
This is a good, deep group. Communication and assignments will be the key. Don't be surprised at all if this group is much better, especially run blocking last year.
4) Ryan Malleck will be featured prominently. He was the exclusive #1 TE, and was used as both the tight end and the motion guy from the wing, very similar to how Clemson used Dwayne Allen. He caught passes on bootlegs, pulled to block on counter and power plays. Dunn had a catch, but it appears that his blocking isn't trusted enough to go with the ones.
5) Michael Holmes got most of the work with the ones. He is a patient runner, working off blocks and running hard. He had several nice runs early on, but he wasn't being fed carries like a workhorse back. He also seemed to be less noticeable as the scrimmage went on, except in pass protection where he was effective.
JC Coleman had limited snaps with the 1st team, but made the most of them. He ran two nice quick hitting off tackle plays. On one, Kyle Fuller met him in the hole for what should have been a 4 yard gain, but Coleman put a subtle cut on Fuller, leaving him on his behind, broke a tackle by Exum, then Corey Marshall, then finished the 52-yard run by going through Exum. Later, he had another quick gashing interior run gaining over 15 yards.
Trey Edmunds was used with the 2's and 3's (more 3's), but he looked the part of a traditional VT workhorse back. He ran from the I and ace (one back) but not from pistol. He had several nice carries and shows a knack for making a subtle cut on the interior. Even on plays where he got no blocking, he was able to gain positive yardage. I have to assume that he hasn't adjusted yet to the pistol and shotgun stuff (he doesn't fit that look either) and perhaps isn't ready for pass pro. When he was in and they passed, it was play action and he dove into the line.
Scales had a nice 10 yard run off tackle on the 1st carry of the scrimmage, and then wasn't noticable. Mangus wasn't noticeable on limited touches.
The Whips played well today. G-W ran with the ones, Ronny VanDyke with the twos. Tweedy worked with the third group. G-W played close to the line of scrimmage and was sent on a bunch of blitzes. Play on the QB wasn't live, but he had 2 or 3 "sacks". Vandyke is a glove in coverage, and really pops the ball carrier. It seems like Tweedy is an afterthought, but he made a nice tackle on special teams.
I was really impressed with Corey Fuller and Kevin Asante. Both worked with the first team. Logan had a knack for finding Fuller, who caught everything thrown his way. Asante got a lot of reps playing with all three teams. Tech is clearly scheming ways to quickly get him the ball, like on a screen, to let him use his speed in space. He's a deep threat, and showed it today too. The buzz around Stanford is justified. He looks like he's been practicing for three years, not three weeks. He ran good routes and caught a couple of balls. I would have liked to have seen him rep with ones, but he made the most of his opportunities. Davis and Roberts took a back seat to Fuller and Asante, but that was the point of this scrimmage. They blocked well on screens. Right now, top four receivers going into fall are: Coles, Roberts, Davis, Fuller, then Asante and Stanford. At least that's my opinion, and now I feel much better about the depth at receiver.
The defense was lackadaisical at the start of practice. Exum got beat a couple of times early, but made a really nice play on a ball in the back corner of the endzone. He located it, went up, and swatted it down for an incompletion. Early in practice Fuller got beat in coverage by Marcus Davis, but was able to recover enough to force the incompletion while falling down. Had Davis caught the ball, he would have housed it. He finished strong. James Gayle didn't participate. Bruce Taylor nabbed a nice interception. There doesn't appear to be any issues with his movement. Edwards didn't participate, but we knew that since he just had surgery to remove the screw from his knee. There were a couple of plays were both defensive ends were standing up, so just the two d-tackles were the down lineman. French had predicted that would be a look Foster would use to combat the spread.
Finally, Painter's body type, human skin over the batsuit.
Thanks to Mrs. French for getting this picture.
Leanest 309 pound lineman ever.