Yesterday, the media gathered in Greensboro to interview (and eat ice cream with) ACC football players. The coaches speak today, and as it relates to the Hokies, day one of ACC Kickoff is always more candid. Coach Beamer has mastered the art of coach speak, and is anything but frank when engaging the media. The players are more apt to provide interesting news, like Logan Thomas hinting Andrew Miller will be sticking at right guard this fall.
Thomas was accompanied to Greensboro by Jack Tyler, and together they indirectly let on to some of the causes of the mess that was last season, gave insight on Beamer Co.'s cleanup process, and how they're conducting business going forward.
The following quotes from Tyler and Tyler validated the thoughts going through my head last fall for the team's shortcomings, and made me have an even better outlook on the future.
"Our offseason has to be tough... We have to have energy, excitement, focus. I think we've gotten away from that a little bit the last few years," Tyler said. "It's kind of been a little bit more laid back because we got complacent. We got so used to winning 10 games every year, we just thought it would happen and we learned last year that it's not just gonna roll out on a red carpet for us. We have to go get those 10 wins."
"Last year I think it was just leadership and lack of dedication. I don't think we brought enough energy, want-to to the practice field every day. I think everybody just got comfortable with what we were doing, and we just needed to shake it up."
"I really haven't held my tongue much lately. Y'all probably see I'm not all smiles and stuff like I used to be. I'm kind of on a mission to one thing, and that's to be better and win games, to be the best team we can possibly be."
"We needed it," Tyler said [referring to Thomas being more vocal]. "It was definitely necessary. Last year, I think that was one of the detriments to our team. We didn't have that senior leadership. We didn't have people making sure we were doing the right things and making sure we were working as hard as possible, making us fight through that extra conditioning, making us fight through our last reps in the weight room. We have that this year."
"We had that culture shock of having new coaches," he said. "So the expectations of Virginia Tech having a top-tier defense and a sub-par offense have changed. Those new coaches have brought in the mindset that we're not only going to have a great defense, we're going to have a great offense at Virginia Tech. I think we need that, that we're not just a defense anymore. We're a full team."
Before last season began, the optimist in me looked past 2012, to 2013, and grinned at the thought of all the juniors on defense, and Logan Thomas returning for their senior years. "That could be a special season," I thought. Furthermore, I rationalized 2012 wouldn't be a step back because many of the players projected to see the field either started or contributed in 2011. I overlooked, and took for granted, the strong senior leadership (both quantity and quality) Tech is usually fortunate to have, and assumed the starters would naturally transition into leadership roles. Even though those players themselves were probably banking on fourth- and fifth-year players to lead the way.
I refer to the program as Beamer Co. because of how I think of player development at Tech. It's an exception to the rule if Tech signs a recruit that ends up contributing as a freshman, or even the following year. And that's not a slight to the talent coming to Blacksburg either. Over the years, Beamer Co. has shown it prefers its young players, no matter how highly regarded in high school they were, to get acclimated to college, learn their position, undergo Gentryfication, and then roll off the belt into Lane as bigger, faster, stronger, and smarter players.
This factory-like approach for producing football players doesn't happen without leadership and commitment. Virginia Tech dominated the ACC because they out-worked, not out-talented their competition.
Unlike last season, the team sounds like they're dedicated to winning the offseason. And the new coaches have been a shot in the arm. Hopefully that leads to a rejuvenation of Tech's offense this season..
There are just 40 more days until kickoff.