GT Film Review: Hokies Unveil their New Offense

Editor's Note: We're going to try to bring you the very best reviews of the games this season found anywhere online. The embedded YouTube video is the complete game, condensed with all commercials removed courtesy of Dozer. It has been coded to start and stop at the times being referenced. If that doesn't work, the time referenced in the play is listed below. --Joe

Welcome to our first film review of the 2012 season. The Hokies came into their opener against Georgia Tech preaching a new attitude on offense after prominently featuring the no huddle, spread, and pistol in preseason scrimmages. Georgia Tech, with Al Groh's 3-4 defense missing several key cogs and lacking depth, seemed like the perfect opponent for a breakout offensive performance after years of struggling in nationally televised openers. By the third quarter, it seemed as if those lofty aspirations had gone up in smoke as the Hokie offense repeatedly stalled against the Yellow Jacket defense.

I know that, watching at game speed, the list of culprits was long, with epithets directed at the usual suspects of O'Cainspring and the offensive line, as well as the wide receivers inability to get separation. Even our own Heisman hopeful drew some ire as I watched from home. Then, when the stakes were at their highest, the offense scored 16 points on three consecutive drives that the Hokies absolutely had to have it, with Logan making impressive throw after throw to get the comeback win. I went to bed foggy, thankful for the win, and looking for a blood transfusion.

Imagine my surprise when I watched the film, and realized that almost none of my initial assumptions were accurate. The offensive line wasn't dominant, but for the most part achieved at least a stalemate up front. I saw very few missed assignments. While the offensive system is still a hodgepodge of different formations and fundamental elements, the play calling utilized a true system approach, with appropriate counters being in place to keep the defense off balance. Also, we saw the coaches utilizing multiple formations and personnel groupings on each series. The wide receivers have some issues, especially with getting separation, and if there is a fair criticism of the coaches and the receivers, it is the lack of vertical passing attempts to prevent the Georgia Tech safeties from crowding the line of scrimmage. When Thomas hit Knowles deep, it wrecked Al Groh's entire defensive concept. For the most part, we saw the same offense against Georgia Tech that we were so excited about in scrimmages. So, what really went wrong?

When Logan Thomas said he played, "like garbage," we looked at his lack of accuracy, which resulted from a complete breakdown of his mechanics in the pocket. Upon review of the film, it became apparent that Logan Thomas was the primary reason that the offense stalled starting with the D.J. Coles injury right up until the Cody Journell missed field goal drive late in the game, and accuracy wasn't the only problem.

The first major issue that appeared on film was a failure by Logan during his pre-snap read to recognize blitzes by Georgia Tech and audible into a better play. After the first-half Georgia Tech touchdown, the Hokies repeatedly ran right into the teeth of a zone blitz. Here are a couple of examples:

Following GT's first-half touchdown, the Hokies were able to regain field position with a solid throw to Marcus Davis on a slant and several nice Michael Holmes runs. A couple of short plays left the Hokies with a manageable third-and-four, just outside of field goal range. Mike O'Cain called a speed option to the wide side, a play that was very effective, although rarely used last year.

8:20–8:33

At the 8:24 mark of the video, Logan completes his pre-snap reads and looks for the snap. At that moment, both the strong side safety AND the strong side inside linebacker come flying to the line on a blitz. There are 5 seconds on the play clock, so there is very little time to audible, but an opposite or fire call (meaning: instead they could have changed the play and ran a zone read to the weak side, or Logan could have ran up the interior without a line adjustment.) Also, the tight end motion should have probably tipped Logan that there was some kind of zone blitz.

At 8:27, you can see the outside linebacker stunt inside. Normally he would be the option man, but Nick Becton is forced to absorb him.

The safety takes the outside lane, and Ryan Malleck desperately tries to get a body on him (which he probably shouldn't do given that he has a veer release and he should get the back side linebacker trailing the play, who ends up making the tackle). At this point, the blitzing inside linebacker coming through the outside gap and probably should be treated as the option man. Logan probably should put his head down and accept that it is a loss play, but he does a very dangerous pitch that Michael Holmes gets a marginal gain on.

Time management became the challenge. Getting the snap off right as the play clock winded down allowed the defense to time their blitz and get an advantage off the ball.

The second issue that derailed the Hokies offense in the critical second quarter was a series of poor reads by Logan on the read option. Here, Logan's failure to read a blitz in his pre-snap read is compounded by not making the correct read on the option man.

9:32–9:38

After completing a pass to Corey Fuller to put the Hokies in terrific field position again. The play is the belly read, the same one that torched the Hurricanes in 2011. Here, Logan snaps the ball with 24 seconds on the play clock, so there is time to audible even though it is not necessary.
Logan is looking at the center, and the safety and the outside linebacker (who is lined up like a nickel corner on the slot) both start creeping towards the line of scrimmage.

Meanwhile, O'Cain is trying to break a tendency of running to the tight end, so Malleck has not motioned over to be in position to handle the blitz. The play is a true zone read, with zone blocking up front and no pulling guard. When Logan and Holmes reach their mesh point, Logan reads the defense and decides to give the ball to Holmes. Bad decision.

With the benefit of replay, looking at the 9:34 mark we can see that the Yellow Jackets have two blitzers, unblocked, flying into a direct line with Holmes assigned path on the play.

At the same time, we have six blockers (OL and the TE) to account for the three defensive linemen and the two inside linebackers, and the playside inside backer is moving away from the center of the field. The correct read is to keep and run right off the left guard's butt.

At this point the problem is compounded by very unaggressive offensive line play. At the 9:35 mark of the video, the ball is at the mesh point, yet only one offensive lineman (Nick Becton) is on the positive side of the line of scrimmage.

David Wang allows the right defensive end (who is lined up inside eye of Painter) to stunt completely across his face and get up field, which is UNACCEPTABLE in a zone blocking play.

Freezing at 9:36, we see that Becton has completely demolished the right inside linebacker, and Andrew Miller and Michael Via have delivered an effective combination block on the nose tackle, with Miller moving on to the left inside linebacker.

If Wang gets a head on the DE, there is a MONSTER hole for Logan to run in. Also, that the rogue left inside linebacker is now double teamed. Logan's poor read, coupled with a poor effort by Wang, turns a terrific playcall that had the potential for a 10+ yard power smash by Logan into a 4 yard loss for Holmes, a terrible down and distance situation, and they are now out of field goal range.

Finally, Logan's mechanics and decision making seemed to fall apart as his frustration grew. To close out the drive, the Hokies call a waggle play that Logan had tremendous success with at the end of last year, especially against the Yellow Jackets.

9:48–10:00

Logan rolls to his left, but despite getting no pressure, he fails to set his feet. Meanwhile, Marcus Davis has beaten the GT corner deep on a double move. Logan under throws the ball by 10 yards (or he overthrew the out route by Fuller) and a sure touchdown turns into a net punt of 15 yards.

I really think part of the problem was all the moving parts and pre-snap responsibilities of the new offense. In the first half, each play had motion after motion, and I think Logan got a bit overwhelmed. As second half got underway, the Hokie coaching staff simplified the game plan and called more of the bread and butter play calls, then Logan became more comfortable, and he looked much sharper. He even looked better during the poor series in the third quarter. Roberts and Davis just dropped balls. Then, when Logan hit the deep ball to Knowles, the Yellow Jacket safeties were forced out of their shallow zones, and the slants and curls started to open up.

The good news for Logan Thomas is that all these problems are correctable. I think the coaching staff can help him by limiting some of the pre-snap movement to allow him to focus on the defense. Also, he needs to work on his body language that allowed Georgia Tech to time their blitzes so well. When his head focuses on the center, that is a green light for the blitz. He doesn't see the adjustment once he looks at center. He needs to be sharper with his reads, and that is often a by-product of no-contact practices where there is no physical reminder of a mistake on an option read. Mechanics will come with trust in the new receivers. We saw it start to develop with Fuller and Davis. Roberts has to be better.

As I said in my opening, the offensive staff shouldn't take the beating that we thought they deserved when the final whistle blew. The pistol worked well. When Logan didn't make a poor read, the GT linebackers were on their heels reading the play, allowing the offensive line to get angles. Holmes and Coleman both ran well (again, with the exception of being run right into a blitz) on both quick hitting interior power plays and the counter option from the pistol that we highlighted on French on the Bench. Play action from the pistol and gun was a bit shaky, and Logan has to look beyond that first read in the flat. While I still like having one offensive philosophy, the coaches effectively ran a system where one play served as an effective counter to the next, and, they mixed personnel groups on each series rather than coming out and running I all series until 3rd-and-long.

Offensive Formations per Drive in First-Half

Drive Pistol Gun I Ace NO HUDDLE
1 X XXX XX   *
2 XX XXXXXXXXX XXX   **
3 XX XX X    
4 XXXX X X    
5 XX XX      
6   XXX      
7   XXX XX    
1st Half Totals 11 23 9 0 3

Hokie Offensive Formations per Drive in Second-Half

Drive Pistol Gun I Ace NO HUDDLE
1 X XX XXX    
2 XX XXX XXXXXX   **
3   X X X  
4   XXXXX     **
5 OT     XXX X  
2nd Half Totals 3 11 13 2 4
Game Totals 14 34 22 2 7

Of course, there is room for improvement. What are the areas where the coaches can help their offensive players?

The pistol was well utilized, but we didn't see the uptempo pace of the offense and the no huddle nearly as frequently as we saw in scrimmages. That pace gets defenses on their heels and prevents changing of personnel groupings, and it simplifies the playbook down to the top "bread and butter plays." It is no coincidence that Logan Thomas has looked better in the 2 minute offense, as those are the best passing plays in the playbook that he is comfortable with. O'Cain may have stayed away from the no-huddle in an effort to control time of possession, but I expect to see much more no huddle against Austin Peay, even if the Hokies use a vanilla game plan.

Also, the Hokies went to no huddle at strange times. Outside of the two minute drill, it seemed like every time the Hokies went no huddle, it was following a bad play that put them in awkward down and distance. I am unsure of what they were looking to accomplish with that strategy.

Any option that features Logan as a runner must start with him moving towards the line of scrimmage. Logan Thomas is a great player, but if he isn't moving forward at the mesh point, his first step is too slow to get going to be much of a threat. He is perhaps the best power running QB in college football. Don't take him out of his comfort zone.

Offensive line coaches must emphasize leg drive and head position more. The offensive line had very few busts, but very few times were they dominant against what is regarded as a so-so defensive front. I spent a significant amount of time in my film study focusing on why the Hokies got so little movement.

First, leg drive. David Wang is going to be my example here. He is a magnificent pulling guard, and usually has the best body position when blocking. But, he goes through stretches where when he makes contact, his feet completely stop moving. Wang will even HOP to get himself into blocking position, but those feet are stone dead. The hardest part of playing offensive line is keeping your feet chopping upon contact. Being able to create movement up front is crucial to play to the strengths of the running backs.

Second, all of the linemen tend to block with their palms and their head up and centered in the chest instead of getting their head across to the play side. This prevents them from effectively scooping the back side. With both tackles being critical to the effectiveness of the read option, working on effectively scooping the back side pursuit is a critical area of improvement.

They must effectively utilize Michael Holmes and J.C. Coleman. The two combined for 17 carries against Georgia Tech, while Logan Thomas really carried the rushing load early. Perhaps some of those first few licks had a hand in the shaky start throwing the ball. Holmes and Coleman both looked better running straight ahead with subtle sharp cuts off blocks than using pure speed to get outside. The pistol veer dive was OK, but the counter was fantastic, and the sprint draw and straight power from the I and the ace formation both produced 4-12 yard runs. They must get work early, and while they are not as explosive as David Wilson, they are good enough to allow play action to facilitate big plays in the passing game.

Perhaps most critical, Mike O'Cain must take more shots down field. This team does not have the playmakers to get big broken plays, and Al Groh knew that. Throughout the second and third quarters, GT had their safeties flying forward. Every single DB was within 7 yards of the line of scrimmage, yet the passes were slants, curls, and screens inside that 7 yard box. That makes for a bunch of crowded, dangerous throws. Once Knowles beat GT for the deep touchdown (off play action from the I no less), Georgia Tech loosened their coverage and the underneath routes became open for the game tying drive. Dyrell and Marcus are talented enough that they should be able to win some battles on go routes, yet I counted just two (the bad underthrow to Davis and the give-up waggle on third-and-long in the second) before the Knowles dagger. Stretch that defense out.

The great news about all these problems is that they are all easily correctable with repetition and attention to detail. I don't think there is any way this offense can be as explosive as last season, but I think that the tools are there to be a dominant time of possession group that can control a game and dictate to the defense. Once the read plays get better timing and the kinks up front get worked out, I think this group will be a much better short-yardage, goal line, and red zone team. I expect a more vanilla game plan, with a ton of focus being put on the base offense and running back production. If this offense can come out and get up huge early without resorting to their "ACC game offense," we can expect great dividends later in the season. This will also be a terrific opportunity for Coleman and Holmes to prove that they can get 25-30 carries a game, and the young receivers and linemen can get some much needed game experience to improve depth.

*Yes, I did not touch on the defense. I think the consensus is that the defensive front seven had a tremendous game, and both Kyle Fuller and Kyshone Jarrett were excellent in the secondary. I will address some small red flags in the comment section focused on 1) the lack of a four man rush late in the game; 2) Antone Exum in run support; 3) linebackers and pass coverage.

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Comments

I for one saw no need to run any sort of hurry-up offense against GT, until we were behind in the 4th-quarter. Anyone watching, especially those of us there saw how tired our D was looking towards the end. I for one was disappointed we didn't employ the HBs more in the running game, for whatever reason. GT's ball hog offense controlled the clock effectively, as they have in the past.
That being said, I can see how a fast-paced will help us out in the future. It will be interesting to see how it develops the rest of the season. The real benefit of our September schedule are four teams we really should have the upper hand on. Then comes a brutal October 6th game against Carolina and the stretch against Clemson, Miami, and FSU (YIKES!).

But from what I saw last night, we have a strong and able defense that can keep us in the fight.

Please, can we not lose to a Pitt team that lost to Youngstown State?

I support Coach Frank Beamer.

VT '10, Born & Raised in the 804. Hokies, Keydets, Army Black Knights, NY Giants, NY Rangers, and ATL Braves.

See, that is a misconception of the no-huddle and the pistol. Both can be used as a ball control offense. The purpose of the no huddle when it isn't used in 2 minute situations is to get to the line to prevent the defense from changing personnel and limiting the defensive coordinator's ability to send in exotic defenses. The offense can then use the entire playclock to get the play off (with the only downside being the wear and tear on the offensive line needing to stay in their stance that long.)

Let's say for a moment that the Hokies used more no huddle against Georgia Tech, and they were able to extend drives. 10-12 play drives keep Georgia Tech off the field. The problem in the 2nd and 3rd quarters was a failure to extend drives.

Viva El Guapo

Thanks

French, you're awesome as usual. Thanks for helping Hokie Nation up their football IQ.
So with the hurry up, I understand that part about limiting the D's chance to adjust plays and personnel. But getting the offense lined up quicker also helps out the QB read the defense, is that right? So with the read options we'll be running more this season it would help him predict the defensive scheme or adjust the play then, right? For example: like the one you broke down where LT3 misread and should've seen the blitz and kept it and gone right.

It can. The downside to the no-huddle, from a former lineman's perspective, is the amount of time you are down in a stance. The longer you are in the stance, the less explosive you are coming out of it. Linemen love to get up in a stance quickly, go on set, and catch the defensive line off guard.

Viva El Guapo

Defensive Breakdown: Exum, and Linebackers in Coverage

The Hokies took away almost all aspects of the Georgia Tech running game. Rather than selling out on the dive and pitchman and letting the QB get yardage, the Hokies controlled the dive with the defensive tackles and the back side linebacker (forcing Paul Johnson to use wider splits, which made for easier run blitzes at momentum swing moments), and then the ends and play-side linebackers handled the quarterback and the pitch man. Option? Didn't work. Counter option? Didn't work. Dive? Got a couple of 5-7 yard runs, but contained. The only play that was successful in the running game was the quick pitch.

One of our posters noted that Paul Johnson would utilize quick pitch more this season to take the Hokies out of last year's defensive strategy. Boy, did he nail that. Georgia Tech ran repeatedly, with success, and almost exclusively to the boundary with Antone Exum as the target. Antone was fine in pass coverage when called upon, but he was absolutely putrid in run support. Let's examine his technique:

http://youtu.be/5iHQLyUTAPk?t=14m23s

Here, the wide receiver squares up to Exum on an option stalk block, who closes aggressively while being making sure he protects from breaking outside. At the moment of contact, Exum and his blocker are at 38 yard line, while the back is 8 yards away (four yards behind the line of scrimmage.) By the time the running back has closed the distance, Exum is STILL engaged with the blocker. There is no violent hand movement to shed the block, of a wide receiver! Torrian Gray will not accept that effort.

On that run, Exum started with good technique, but against a kick out block by a wingback, his technique completely went to hell. Here we have the first Georgia Tech touchdown run.
http://youtu.be/5iHQLyUTAPk?t=6m49s

Exum has to play outside in, because he knows he has safety support on the inside. As he closes, he should make himself small, leading in with the inside shoulder and squeezing inside while keeping his outside shoulder free. Instead, he turns his pads, facing the blocker. When taking on a kick out block, my coaches called turning your pads to the blocker "opening the barn door" and "painting a target on your chest." Exum made the block easier by giving the GT back a larger target, and then he made the problem worse by "jumping" wider and upfield. This widens the hole, taking away Keyshone Jarrett's angle. Jarrett overcompensated to the outside, leaving a cutback lane between him and Jack Tyler. A couple of poor tackles later, and the Yellow Jackets are back in the game.

One final worry about the defense. Late in the game, the Hokies stuck with their 4-3 alignment against the Georgia Tech against the Yellow Jacket pistol. Foster used Gouvia Winslow and Taylor as his blitzers, leaving Jack Tyler in man coverage. Tyler had one hell of a game, but he was beaten easily on two crossing routes, including the final Georgia Tech touchdown. JGW is an outstanding blitzer, but all three of those guys are excellent blitzers, and by the nature of the position, you would expect Foster to use JGW as the cover guy in that position. That tells me that he doesn't think JGW can cover either.

The Hokies were able to manage a win in this matchup against a poor passing team, but the Hokies can't afford to play three linebackers who are poor in pass coverage against good spread teams and expect to win. That leaves Foster with a couple of options.

1) Go nickle and play Manning or Fuller in the slot, either with JGW replacing Taylor or Tyler or JGW having a seat.

2) Van Dyke getting work over JGW in the slot.

3) Van Dyke covers the slot, and JGW moves to backer with Taylor moving to whip.

I am not sure what happens, but I would be stunned if we see that threesome against a good passing team.

Viva El Guapo

Linebackers in coverage

Your commentary sounds great and is well thought out but you should take a lesson from Andy Bitter's recent blog where Coach Cav finally reveals that JGW was not the defender being beat on the Boise State winning TD even though every picture and on TV it looked that way. The players won't say and in fact they are instructed by staff not to even pay attention to what the press and you bloggers write. Those that know who was truly beat on a play based on the defense called not what you think you saw on TV won't say you will never know it unless a coach FINALLY tells you what actually happened. Bud Foster alluded to it in post game interviews and pointed out that they executed the package called incorrectly but did not say who executed improperly just said "the kids" You can analyze film from a TV presentation all you want you don't have the full picture on plays like that. But I will tell you this Jack Tyler was not beat on that scoring play at the end of the game, and you will never know who was....... so if that's true and it is your speculation on who plays and what Foster's options are are also off base and incomplete in their analysis.

I had a similar discussion with a twitter follower last night. I wasn't just referencing the touchdown (Tyler also was beaten to the flat on the first 1st half completion when he ran into JGW and was beaten on another crossing route late in the game.)

Now, on the touchdown, Tyler was playing a short zone. His responsibility is similar to a robber coverage, in that he is supposed to read the QB's eyes and play just underneath the shallowest crossing route. Derrick Bonner played soft man coverage on the receiver that scored the touchdown. I can't verify it because our copy of the film that we have pulled these clips from doesn't show it, but it appears that Bonner was about to run into a pick, and took a deeper angle, which freed up the receiver. Still, of the three available options for coverage, Tyler is the worst of the 3 in coverage going back to his first start against going back to the Georgia Tech game. The revelation that Taylor was hurt clears it up a little, but up you would like to see your whip, who is supposed to be a secondary linebacker hybird, used more in coverage than your big middle linebacker. What is indisputable is that, based on two scrimmages, this game, and past opportunities to watch these three linebackers, they are all excellent blitzers and good against the run, and I think even they would tell you that coverage is the worst part of their game.

As for my other assertions, I have made it clear from the first day of writing this column for The Key Play that these are my observations. I am not a professional journalist and have no aspirations of being a "noted football blogger." I have no insider information, and have never claimed to. I watch the game, then review the film, and I apply my knowledge about football to write observations and analysis for the benefit of the members of the community who perhaps are not as familiar with the jingoism of the game and have only been inundated with the dull cliches of the latest Four Letter Network analyst. When I don't have a firm grip on a defesive concept that I observe, I reach out to former team mates who are now coaching and get their input.. After writing, I enjoy the back and forth with other members of this community. That is why I take the 3-4 hours a week to review the film and offer the comments. I will be the first to tell you when I am wrong (note that Foster's defense did not use the same philosophy defensively as last year to stop the option, which I wrote about in my preview column for the game.)

Viva El Guapo

some good stuff

How long did this take you?

I am a fast typer, but going back and marking the video for adding the clips and work-related writing.

Viva El Guapo

Yeoman effort!

Kudos to French!

Take the shortest route to the ball and arrive in bad humor.

Kudos to Joe and Billdozer for the video and stills, otherwise it would be pure babble!

Viva El Guapo

wow

fantastic write up. I re-watched the game last night and watch LT as he was making reads and noticed that once he moved to the center to make his snap he never moved his head again. I think we may not move completely to vanilla this week against the Govs in order to try to get LT more comfortable with the plays, but when we play Pitt we will definitely see more conservative play calling again.

"I don't know what a Hokie is, but God is one of them.' So I'm going with God. I'm going with Virginia Tech." Lee Corso Aug 23, 2000

http://www.thekeyplay.com

Thanks for the break down

French, great read. I have been reading your stuff all preseason as well. You have definitely given me a much better understanding on the game and how it is played. Please keep it up

A new season...new hope

Outstanding work

Not complaining but why you guys aren't charging $10 a month is beyond me. I'd cancel TSL in a heartbeat if it meant still getting your content for the same total price.

Instead of paying us $10 a month, tell other Hokies about the site. That's worth more to us.

And, if you see me at a

Please, share with friends, alums, and fans. Being able to have this back and forth discussion makes the writing fun!

Viva El Guapo

actually

I believe Joe works for RAILS. So if you see him at tots, feel free to pay the man.

I am always drunk when I make my videos.

Looking at the speed option play again, if Logan had time, a great audible against that blitz would be to a Y dump. Conceptually, it is similar to the Eric Martin touchdown catch.

Each lineman comes off to the inside gap aggressively just like a run. The QB and the tailback both move two steps in a manner just like the speed option. The tight end executes a veer release ( a. step with your left foot to the left, turning your torso to face the sideline b. take a short stride with your right foot, plant, and then turn straight up field). That width gets the tight end an extra yard away from the back side linebacker.

The QB takes his two steps like he is running the speed option, and then gently floats the ball over the blitzing linebacker and safety. The back side linebacker, play side corner (who is occupied with a receiver) and the remaining safety are well out of range to make any play. A simple throw (veer high school teams use this as a primary passing play) results in a 10-15 yard gain.

Viva El Guapo

French do you

Do you think with coles out we could see JC in the slot some and utilize him in motion out of the pistol? He's got to be on the field more than a handful of plays a game

UVA: Jefferson's biggest mistake

@pbowman6

Great pickup. I think Coleman defintely needs more touches, and there was at least one play where they ran the counter pistol with Coleman as the motion man and Holmes had a really nice run.

I would try to get 30-33 carries between Holmes and Coleman this week, with th mix being around 20 for Holmes and 10-13 for Coleman. 2-3 of those should be on the jet sweep motion so teams have film of him getting the ball in that set. That will force ACC defenses to account for him, which eliminates one back side pursuit defender when Holmes or Thomas carries.

Viva El Guapo

Great read as always

French..I'm trying to get some hokies over on hoopla to subsidize their hoopla with some tkp..I think some of them have..speaking of Eric Martin, I read earlier that he won't be returning next season. It sounds like our issues were due to execution and that we've definitely switched offensive philosophies to a fair degree. Pistol/spreadsheet-gun with some I here to stay?

Regarding defense, Rvd must play against spreads and I think fuller moves to nickel...question is..what's gonna give?

I'm not sure if I misunderstood the statement, but Martin is listed as a senior this season... French and I watched the first public scrimmage together, and we both noticed Ryan Malleck was used as a TE/H-back in a similar manner as Clemson used Dwayne Allen, so I do think it's fair to say they want a versatile guy (at least for now).

In the past (see Cody Grimm) the Hokies didn't remove the whip against 4 and 5 WR sets. With DB depth such a big question mark, and knowing that Taylor, Tyler, and JGW are not great cover guys, I am curious as to how Foster will play spread teams.

Will he play young DB's with the nickel (which I assume will have Fuller move to the slot and Manning play the field corner) with the whip coming out? Will he keep JGW in and pull Tyler or Taylor? or will he let the whip play on the slot and keep Fuller at corner (a possibility given how unhappy the staff was with Manning over and over again in the scrimmages.)

If the whip stays in the game to cover the slot, I am not sure how Foster doesn't play RVD. In all the scrimmages, RVD covered the slot, and in all those snaps, he was only beaten one time going against the 1st team offense. Meanwhile, JGW usually blitzed and when he did cover, he was dropping into zones and not covering man.

Viva El Guapo

"[T]he offensive system is still a hodgepodge of different formations and fundamental elements..."

Is it?

From what I saw we're basically using the same personnel across three formations, which the exception being we sub in a FB for the third WR in I Form and sub in a TE for the FB in Ace. This seems way more cohesive than what we saw circa 2006-2009, where we were throwing six and seven looks at opposing Ds every game.

You break down Xs and Os way, way better than I do (or anyone else I've ever read anywhere on a Hokie blog does), so you understand the nuances between Gun, Pistol, and I Form (well, we all should understand the difference between Gun and I, but y'know...) better than most. But it seems like we're basing this year's offense around the same nucleus of players with very little substitution (besides the normal rotation through the depth chart throughout the game to keep everyone fresh for the 4th quarter), and the offense builds on itself as the game goes on.

And really, just a freaking amazing breakdown.

While the personnel on the field changed very little, the fundamentals for each formation's version of the running game are very different. It caused some confusion.

Out of the pistol, the Hokies ran almost exclusive zone blocking. For zone blocking, you get a gap assignment and the first person who makes contact, you center your helmet and maintain contact driving to the play side. While you don

Out of the gun (which was the primary formation) we saw saw lots of veer blocking, which requires a series of combination blocks play side with scoop blocking backside. It is essentially man blocking, and when Logan is the primary ball carrier, they include pulling the guard and kicking out the end while optioing a linebacker (almost like a belly option from a wing-t). The I formation and ace formation is almost exclusively man blocking, which requires sight adjustments and a variety of line calls setting up getting appropriate head position and creating specific lanes.

It is a world of difference for the guys up front, and it shows against top defensive guys.

Viva El Guapo

I think that's why I like your analysis so much better than others'. You base your analysis from the ground up on what the O line is doing, while everyone else (myself included) focuses on what the skill positions are doing.

Really A+ work, French.

Great Write-up

Well done! I thoroughly enjoyed this. I'll be coming back for more.