Pound the Rock, Progress in the Running Game

As I wrote throughout the summer, Alabama presented an opportunity for Virginia Tech to demonstrate a commitment to improved offensive line play and an effective running game. How the Hokies would fare rushing against a traditionally stout Alabama defense was a great mystery all year. The first team offense struggled to run the football during the spring game, and they didn't run it during open public scrimmages in fall camp. However, the mandate from Coach Frank Beamer this offseason was clear: the Hokies must run the football.

Fast forward to 9:30PM on Saturday night. Trey Edmunds became the first Hokie running back to break the 100-yard mark (132) in his debut since Shyrone Stith (119), and despite laments by the Crimson Tide about their performance, Alabama is much better than the 1996 Akron Zips. Tech's o-line demonstrated solid assignment football throughout the game. The unit had significantly improved fundamental footwork, contact/aiming points, and they remained engaged on blocks. The rushing yardage beyond the Edmunds touchdown run wasn't Earth shattering, but Virginia Tech consistently found themselves in much more manageable 3rd-and-4 type situations versus the 3rd-and-11s that plagued the team last year.

As for the methodology, I, unlike many who were excited by visions of spread formations and read option, wasn't particularly thrilled with the approach Scot Loeffler took early in the football game. Loeffler utilized a variety of spread looks, and repeatedly faked variations of the dive play while attacking the edge with Thomas and D.J. Coles as a receiver. Instinctually, it felt like an admission of defeat. "We WANT to be a power running team, but we can't push around THIS opponent, so let's go out of character and trick them." It smelled like the same old nonsense; an offense that was trying to be too varied, and as result, bad at everything they tried to do. Anyone who was around me during the first two offensive series of the game knew I wasn't a happy camper.

The film tells a very different story. Instead of the old O'Cainspring playbook where plays were run without logical reads, counter plays, or alignment variations, I quickly discovered that, while the early efforts to attack the edge with the option were poorly executed, they forced the Alabama defense to defend the whole field, which allowed more favorable numbers matchups on the interior to run the dive. Let's take a look at two plays early in the game.

On the game's first offensive snap, the Hokies ran a straight veer triple option from a spread formation, with D.J. Coles aligned as a slot back to the play side almost as deep as the tailback.

The veer is a simple play. The offensive line outnumbers defenders to the inside. One player is left unblocked. The quarterback options that player. On a triple option veer, two players are left unblocked. First, the quarterback has to read dive or keep, and then the second option read is keep or pitch on the second unblocked defender. Let's watch the play develop.

00:00:12–00:00:20

If you freeze the play at the 14 second mark, you will notice that there has been a MAJOR breakdown in Alabama's defense. The defensive end gets caught in between taking the dive and the quarterback and the outside linebacker (who appears to be coming on a run blitz) also takes the quarterback. When Logan Thomas commits to pitching the ball to D.J. Coles, there is a huge cushion between Coles and the nearest defender up the field.

At this critical moment, the execution of the play begins to break down. Laurence Gibson doesn't get enough of C.J. Mosley at linebacker. Knowles cuts the safety, but Ha Ha Clinton-Dix gets off the ground and closes down the space rapidly. And, perhaps most frustrating, D.J. Coles was incredibly tentative and slow attacking the line of scrimmage. A play that began with so much promise ends with a one-yard gain.

Despite the lack of effectiveness, Loeffler came back to different variations of the play on the first couple of drives. Each time, the play was essentially ineffective, but over on the sidelines, those Alabama linebacker coaches were FUMING MAD about the breakdown of option assignments on that first play. From that moment forward, the outside linebackers and safeties of Alabama must respect the pitch as a threat, which keeps them from crashing inside on the dive. That creates additional space that helps the dive become more successful as the game moves forward.

As the first half progressed, Loeffler kept the offense relatively simple. He ran several variations of the read option, including the veer and the cross-buck, but he did it from a variety of formations. Unlike O'Cainspring, it was very challenging to identify where the ball was going based on formation, even though the Hokies were running variations of the same play over and over again.

On Edmunds touchdown, Loeffler surprised the defense with two new wrinkles. First, he called an an odd offensive alignment with the left tackle eligible (if he had an eligible number) and Demitri Knowles in the right slot as an ineligible receiver. As you can see, four men are on the line of scrimmage to the right of center, while only two are to the left.

This alignment was necessary to get 7-men on the line of scrimmage (otherwise it is an illegal formation), allowing Loeffler to spring his second surprise on the Alabama defense. Instead of running a veer triple option, Loeffler flexed tight end Darius Redman behind the line of scrimmage and used him like a pulling guard to kick out the first defender who shows on the dive.

Loeffler is now running a true "fullback trap" triple option made famous by Nebraska in the 70's, 80's, and 90's from a spread formation. And unlike that first veer pitch, the Hokies execute magnificently.

00:05:40–00:05:52

At the snap, the Alabama defensive end reads his keys and determines that a running play will likely be a veer, and that Laurence Gibson will attempt to bypass him and block inside linebacker C.J. Mosley. Accordingly, the end attempts to cross Gibson's face to the inside gap, cutting off Gibson from the linebacker. In actuality, it sets up Gibson's block perfectly, and Gibson drives the defensive end all the way inside. Andrew Miller blocks gap down to the linebacker on the weak side of the play and eats up Trey DePriest. David Wang, Caleb Farris, and Jonathan McLaughlin effectively seal off the back side.

At the moment of the mesh point with Edmunds and Thomas, you see the effect of the keepers and pitches earlier in the game.

Gibson has driven the end inside. All-American C.J. Mosley is coming up to take the dive, but defensive back Jarrick Williams is staying wide to respect the threat of a quarterback keeper or a pitch. At this moment, if Mosley does not defeat Redman's trap block and make the play, nobody else is in position to strop Edmunds.

On cue Mosley steps into the gap to take the dive, and Redman comes across and traps him effectively enough to keep his body in between Mosley and Edmunds. This creates a beautiful lane for Edmunds to explode through with nothing but endzone in sight.

Trey Edmunds superior athleticism finishes the job. This is the very definition of perfect execution in any football coach's dictionary.

As the game progressed, Loeffler continued to utilize variations of the read option from different formations, with the trap play continuing to surprise Alabama defenders. Later in the game, Loeffler ran the trap play and Edmunds bent the run back against a four-man front, with David Wang getting very nice push on the inside linebacker.

00:09:33–00:09:39

As the trap started to make those ends and linebackers wary, the veer read option began to loosen up. Here, Trey Edmunds has a nice power run on the veer.

00:08:12–00:08:19

Note, Edmunds is attacking the line of scrimmage, getting forward push in small space, and the offensive line is staying engaged with their blocks and keeping their feet moving until the whistle blows. This is outstanding compete level. Throughout the game, even when I saw busted assignments, the offensive line didn't stop and look at the development of the play. Instead, they sought out the nearest defender and attempted to get a hat on hat until the whistle. That kind of effort is the foundation of an excellent running game.

As enthusiastic as I am about the debut of the Jeff Grimes' offensive line, there is always room for improvement. Each lineman had at least one breakdown in pass protection (the most glaring being Miller's whiff on Ed Stinson on the dreadful 3rd-and-1 rollout pass call in the 2nd quarter when the Hokies were running the ball very effectively.) However, the line only yielded a single sack to a unit that averaged 2.5 last season.

Also, Grimes crew sometimes struggled to get proper leverage on outside stretch zones from the pistol and spread sets.

00:10:51–00:10:58

Here, Caleb Farris doesn't reach the three-technique tackle with his initial step, and as the tackle initiates contact, his feet freeze for just a brief moment. David Wang steps play side to scoop the three-technique if he comes inside, but when he goes outside Farris, Wang freezes up for just a moment and can't get to the play side linebacker on the second level. Both mistakes are certainly fixable and the result of a lack of experience and timing in this system. The tackle's push up the field caught both off guard, and that is going to happen over the course of a game. This kind of error was the exception, versus the norm that we saw last season.

Based on the film, this is the new normal under Jeff Grimes. The Hokies are backed up against the end zone, and turn to the inside zone to get some breathing room.

00:13:06–00:13:10

Wang takes a terrific first step, gets his head across the nose tackle to the play side, then lodges his back shoulder into the nose, and drives him with great active feet several yards to the right. Farris takes a hard step to the play side from his left guard spot, and then explodes into the second level. He gets right into the pads of the inside linebacker. There is a monster hole for Edmunds to explode into, and Trey finishes the run by pushing the pile forward for a little extra. If this is how the Hokies will continue to run the ball, the ACC will hate playing Virginia Tech.

One final thought on the running game. Do you think that C.J. Mosley thinks that Trey Edmunds is good?

00:16:58–00:17:05

Posterized.

Given the quality of the opponents and the poor execution of the passing attack, the offensive line and running game was about as good as we could have hoped for. Virginia Tech was in more 3rd-and-manageable situations than I can recall against any quality opponent last season. Even the plays that were not perfectly executed often saw great effort by the offensive line and tremendous push from Edmunds that resulted in positive gains, which kept the Hokies out of less than favorable down and distance situations.

Western Carolina will give the starting group an opportunity to continue to improve cohesion and establish some of the zone stretch and inside zone plays from pro formations, and hopefully they will work on utilizing some slightly wider splits to allow more natural seams on the inside through formation. It should also give Grimes the opportunity to give some of the backup offensive linemen like Augie Conte and Wyatt Teller and opportunity to gain some experience in case they will need to be called upon in the meat of the ACC schedule as result of injury. The ground attack was an aspect of the Saturday's contest where I saw true improvement. Let's hope that this offensive line group continues to deliver this kind of performance, improves their cohesion, and if so, expect Virginia Tech to have a very strong running game this season.

Comments

Question. You say that Edmunds is one of only two Tech RBs to have over 100 yards in his debut but didn't David Wilson get over 100 yards against Marshall which was his first game? Or did he play against Alabama the week before?

In Sam Rogers we trust.

Good Question, but I remember DW4 getting stop for minimal yards versus Bama in 09. Then again my memory may have been awash by spirits.

"This is really a lovely horse, I once rode her mother." - Ted Walsh

Yes, there are many reasons for hope this season. In all likelihood, we've played our toughest game and opponent for the year. Now we just need to iron out the wrinkles, and can't take any games off.

The U invented Swag, but UVA invented Smug.

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

Yeah we tend to play to the level of our opponents, so hopefully that changes and we play every game like we did against Alabama. Except for the receivers.

Two epic goatees. Two epic coaches. Tip of the Spear and The Lunchpail. GRIMES&FOSTER.

...marks the spot?
Treasure Map

The U invented Swag, but UVA invented Smug.

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

Thanks French, great review. I too thought we were being "too cute" to start the game. I was pretty frustrated that it took as long as it did for Edmunds to get a carry. But then I remembered a quote from Loeffler about how Alabama is prone to mistakes in the first game of the season due to the complexity of their defense. I'm thinking he was going out of his way to exploit that.

Not the bagman VT deserves, but the bagman VT needs right now.

So are you pro or against the zone read plays? I was personally critical of its use in the game. Between the first two drives and the play were trey got spun around because Logan kept his hands in there too long. I didn't see it being overly effective. Does it just need more polishing and there is potential, or should we just stick with an old school run game and develop an identity?.. Thanks French for you expert analysis that helps those of us with a football iq lower than London's.

I'm also curious to hear French's take here, more with respect to Logan's decision making on the reads in the game. I remember feeling during the game like he kept making the wrong reads. Just went back and re-watched and felt like there were a few plays where he made incorrect reads, but not nearly as many as I thought while watching the game live. He just seemed a little hesitant to me.

Exactly. Not to say we should simplify the playbook, but like last year I don't want to try every offensive tactic and not be good at any one. Is this one too many?

No, this is actually an incredibly simple play set. They basically ran four running plays from the shotgun/pistol, but they did it out of a multitude of formations and each served as a counter to eachother. Last season, they were running tons of plays, but each formation screamed "I AM RUNNING THIS!" Example: Twins left I right = bubble screen or a counter dive (fullback goes one way, tailback goes the other way.) Ace formation two tight ends right meant the wide power stretch. No bootleg. No straight dive. No counter. Just the stretch. It made them easy to defend.

This was fewer running plays, but the defense is more confused because they can do multiple things from each formation.

Viva El Guapo

Logan will make a few bad reads, but the real problem is that he isn't explosive so when he keeps the ball, we rarely see runs greater than a few yards. It was like when UNC was running the read option against USC. Renner would make the correct read and keep it, but you're still left wondering wtf.

I don't think he is a natural at running the option. But, that isn't news. The Hokies have not had a QB comfortable at reading and pitching since Michael Vick there. (And no, Tyrod and Marcus were not good at running the option. They were good at scrambling and running QB draws.) He isn't always going to make the correct read, and that wasn't helped last year where it seemed like they ran inverted veer but were not running option (QB keep all the way.)

He will get more comfortable, but he isn't quick enough on the bootleg and the straight veer to be a big threat. He just has to be as quick and physical as he can to make the defense pay attention to him, and that will open up other things.

For the record, I think that you will see Coleman and Mangus in that pitch role. The wide receivers were not effective and if they continue to be used in that role, the defense will collapse inside just like the Tide did in the second half.

Viva El Guapo

As far as guys with a good reputation for running, I'd disagree. Druck and Clark were both better at the natural feel for when to keep or pitch although slower.

Viva El Guapo

This is a tough question. I am not a huge fan of the spread, not because it does or doesn't work, but because every coach is jumping on that bandwagon and if you are late to the table, you will never execute it as well as the innovators. Also, defenses are getting smaller and smaller, and I think if a team can figure out a way to play Stanford-style offense with elite execution, coupled with SEC caliber talent, that team will be the next powerhouse team because none of today's defenses are designed to compete with that kind of size and power. The Hokies may already be the first team to figure out how to stop the spread, as they played really well against Clemson last season using this attacking umbrella scheme (where they were dominated when they ran a read and react 4-2-5 bend but don't break look in 2011.)

Nevertheless, widely accepted offensive systems all will work if executed properly. If some coach created the scheme and recruited to it, teams could bring back the Pro-T, the straight T, and the wing T and with buy in and execution, it would be effective. Hell, a bunch of the stuff Chad Morris does at Clemson is straight out of the old Single-Wing/Wing T playbook, with some triple option (using the WR screen as the 3rd option) mixed in.

Now, given how well the Hokies ran from a pro-set, I bet the coaches wish they had featured it more early, but don't worry. The Hokies will be in the I and ace formations running inside and outside zone a ton this week.

Viva El Guapo

Just to tack on to your comment It looked like in the last 5 minutes of the 4th when both teams were in burn time mode Leal and the offense seemed to be running some proset and the blocking looked pretty good and we got pretty good yardage from that. I am assuming it was Bama 2nd d against Hokie 2nd o. I wonder if next week Hokie 1st o doesnt run more power I.

So you think overall Scott L did a good job in his first game, given the talent level and the depth he was given?

Awesome analysis. Been eagerly waiting to see what you thought.

Thanks.

I am super excited to watch edmunds in the future.

Chick Patty w/ Cheese

I'm actually shocked that Edmunds didn't just bust a nut and collapse to the turf when he saw how big that hole was. All kidding aside, I'm feeling great about the O-Line and can't wait to see us against Western Carolina where we should get back to our old ways of just imposing our will. And as usual, awesome right up French.

Great write up. While this focused on running what is your take on Logan running the play action. It didn't strike me like he was trying hard to fake the hand-off and really sell the play action, but then again maybe a hard fake isn't what's needed to get the safeties to delay.

Logan is still a work in progress. He hasn't had a real QB coach until January. Loeffler has work ahead of him. I am a stickler on play fakes, and I think they can make an offense much more difficult to defend, but Logan's biggest issue continues to be mechanical breakdowns. I will discuss them more in the Western Carolina preview, but when he takes the snap, and when he gets a little pressure in the pocket, he has a real bad habit of dropping the ball below shoulder level to move in the pocket. This takes the ball out of throwing position, and if he sees a receiver open up, he needs an extra split second to bring the ball back up to his ear and make the throw. Against good corners, that second allows them to recover. It cost the Hokies Saturday night, as you will learn in our Western Carolina preview.

Viva El Guapo

Gotcha. I am used to watching RG3 who is fantastic at play fakes so I couldn't tell if Logan was lazy or if Loeffler has more work to do (glad it's more work and not the latter). I agree though, when pressure came I thought he prematurely panicked. Thank you

I wouldn't say "panic" is the right word. When he moved, his arm dropped. Try running a 10 yard spring holding a football with your right hand and your left hand across your chest bracing the ball in a throwing position. It isn't natural, as when your legs move, your arms want to drop and pump. It is something to work on, but he isn't a stiff.

The wide receivers were terrible, but with everyone else pounding them, I wanted to focus on the positives.

Viva El Guapo

Tell you what, French. If the OL continue to mature and jell, using the WCU game as a final tune up, they should be scary good when we hit the November slate. Edmunds is completely a big time player.

Shane biggest task right now is deciding on who is #2 at tailback to spell Edmunds, could be Magnus right now, but I'm holding off until I see the WCU game.

I was incredibly frustrated at the opening drive, the next two drive, before Edmunds busted loose for that incredible touchdown run. After reading your review, I think I owe Loeffler an apology. He clearly knows what he is doing.

I support Logan Thomas and make no apologies for it.

It almost feels like we could go to a bit of A-Back, B-Back with Caleb backing up Trey and JCC/Mangus as the smaller back.....replacing Willie Byrn as that pitch man...

That is exactly what I expect, although Coleman will get reps at the tailback position too.

For this week, I hope they can get up early while keeping Edmunds under 15 carries, and then split series with Mangus and Caleb. There is no reason to play Coleman unless he is 100 percent, and since he stayed home against Bama I am guessing he still needs some healing.

Viva El Guapo

French - I heard all the chatter about how the offense was too "cutesy" to start the game, but I agree with your assessment that the option and pitch work early on helped established the between the tackle veer game.

Several things broke down in the very first Hokie play from scrimmage - - Demetri didn't maintain his block, DJ was a bit tentative, and Gibson didn't seal the linebacker inside - - but that play was drawn up beautifully and forced the linebackers to respect the pitch all night. I think that play goes for big time yardage against most ACC opponents.

I think as a fan base HokieNation is inherently skeptical of the offense - - be patient everyone. Loefller and Grimes know what they are doing. This offense is cohesive - - things we do early will set up plays later in the game. If we are lucky enough to have these coaches for a few years I think we're just beginning a very fun ride.

Agreed 100%. Poor execution can make even a perfect play look silly

I miss Stick it In

Also, you guys, look at this film. That was the best offensive line performance VT has had in several years, against the most talented front 7 in college football. Let's clean up the WR play and LETS GO HOKIES.

On TTL, DJ Coles says he feels back to 100% and that his knee didn't bother him during the game.

The U invented Swag, but UVA invented Smug.

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

Well, he just sounded like an actual OC. Pretty much touched on everything we already knew.

The U invented Swag, but UVA invented Smug.

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

Exum is his usual self.

The U invented Swag, but UVA invented Smug.

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

Exum is saying he is hopeful of being back for the Marshall game. i would be surprised, to be honest, but I guess stranger things have happened.

7pm EST, but streaming it online could be difficult, because IMG Sports has syndication rights. I'm listening to it on 910AM here in Richmond.

The U invented Swag, but UVA invented Smug.

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

French thanks for the write up...I learned a whole bunch from the first section about how Loeffler used the option read to confuse the defense...It makes me feel very hopeful that we now have an offensive coach atleast good enough to game plan around taking away and opponents strengths and can execute other offenses as needed.

Great write up- really enjoyed it and psyched for this weekend.

Man i love this stuff!
I'm actually feeling better about our O-Line this year, and therefore our running attack. I really like what our new coaching staff is doing with this team.

On Edmunds TD run, isn't Clinton-Dix coming hard on the pitch man? You can see him moving hard to his left in the "Daylight is Beautiful" blow up. Was that his assignment or residue to the first series with DJC on the pitch?

Without Clinton-Dix taking himself out of position, it looks like that's a 15-yd run and not a 76 yarder.

This isn't great, right? From TSL's Tech Talk notes:

Tech started the game running triple option. Tech gave the illusion of running the triple option on the touchdown run, but it was a handoff all the way. That helped the play develop, and Edmunds was able to split it. There were a couple of read errors as far as keeping the ball or giving it up, and thats something theyll clean up.

I'm not sure I like the sound of faux-triple option. If you're going to succeed at the triple option, shouldn't you run it with all options open? Or is it normal for an option to be committed to one outcome from the start? I think of Nesbitt running the dive over and over again.

If it keeps getting us yardage and TD's, I don't care if we run a wishbone.

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

Whether you like the sound of it or not, it went for a 79 yard touchdown run. Loefller > CDS7C

I'm not trying to be snarky, just wondering if it was an actual option or not.

The Edmunds touchdown was a counter to a triple option. That is a good thing. A good offensive game plan includes counters against tendencies; making the defense think one thing is coming, then hitting them with something else. To the defense, especially one that has seen the triple option happen in the game already, their keys tell them option. (That's why we highlighted the option paths in the play diagram.) However, now those false keys, and are what set up the crucial block on the trap man, which is what spring Edmunds.

These are good things.

Gotcha. So Edmunds didn't score on a triple option. It was just a dive out of triple option look.

Like the fake end around springing KJ on the long run against Pitt in '03. It was obviously not an option to run the end around, it just held the safety.

Which relates to my initial point, that Clinton-Dix was moving towards the Triple Option like he did the first series, which is what gives Edmunds the extra 60 yards.

I really like the way they're throwing curve balls and showing some imagination on offense.

The U invented Swag, but UVA invented Smug.

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

I like how they're doing it without slamming their heads into a wall like a drunk baby with a bucket on his head. Yeah, I'm looking at you, WR pass from the Clemson game last year.

That made me laugh.
But, then I thought how much truth there was to your comment and now I am sad for last year.

Man.. I missed so much on the boards ... trying to catch up

Everyone has said so much already. My reiteration...
Receivers: Timid. Did not attack the ball. Scared to run routes through defensive zones. And as French exhibits plainly, simply without a clear understanding of our Offense and where to line up on the ball.
OL: A world of difference from last year. I shudder to think how badly this Alabama team would have manhandled us in 2012. They looked very good.
Edmunds: A beast. A true RB. Ryan Williams had vision but no true speed. Evans had power but limited vision and no speed. Wilson had speed and power but limited vision... Trey looks to have them all and he is only a freshman. Loving it.

OL and Edmunds together will result in this all year long:

dRYFP3KotE.gif

The only thing I can think of to say that has not been said, or maybe it has since I have not had chance to read every comment on every thread, is that the scenario of at VT team that has a flat out dominate Defense with an Offense that looks to come on more and more as the season goes along, really sounds like a Hokie team.

Yeah, we all want the Offense to put 100's of points on the board but really, so much is new with them and for what they did well they looked really good. Other things need time with good coaching and player development. I'm good with that and can see Offensive dominance in our future... finally

Sucks to lose any game. Not accepting a loss. But I am very happy with what my choppy, behind the great firewall, online streamed game showed me about the potential of this team this year. Looking forward to see what the team brings next week when it can open the offense a bit more and experiment.

Oh, one final thing, Kris Harley not traveling or playing gives me the major Sads. I wish Wiles would put him in a game day situation and see if that is what drives him to succeed. Sometimes a kid just needs to be playing and not practicing to be good. I always thought this was Harley to a tee. I feel for the kid...

Agree with this. Whatever you want to call it the O is definitely not ocainspring. This was the first real game experience with it against one of the best Ds in the land. I think we showed up to play and did well. I am very hopeful. The next two games should show how far it will go .

#BRINGTHEHAMMER? #MACKTRUCKOFFENSE?

In Beamer & Co. We Trust #Livefor32 #DecadeofDominance

As always, great analysis.

My one concern with the Edmunds TD run: The formation has a WR covered up. Now this is on tape, defenses should be looking for the covered up receiver and and know a run play is coming. It will be interesting to see if Loeffler keeps using formations that limit your passing ability. Of course, VT did run that one pass with 9 men on the line (2 ineligible receivers)...

This scenario brings up the question. Do you think Loeffler will continue to use a formation that signifies 100% run now that the element of surprise is gone? Or do you think he will develop passing plays with covered up receivers, essentially playing 10 on 11?

Well, it does make a secondary option tricky on play action, but if Knowles doesn't go downfield you can certainly run it, ESPECIALLY if other teams think they won't pass from it. Knowles just has to stay behind the line, and that can be accomplished by faking a screen action. Here is a rough example.

Your slot receiver takes a step back and goes flat to the sidelines behind the line of scrimmage. QB fakes the dive and takes one step to the option side, and then backs up to throw. The primary route is a stop (faking the option stalk block) and then going on a straight nine (go route) deep. He has checkdowns to the tight end, who fakes the trap block and goes to the flat. The dive man can run an out, but chances are he will get hit on the dive fake.

Viva El Guapo

This would be a pretty good play, especially if the CB and safeties are charging in at the snap. I was thinking a bubble screen would be the only passing play, but a bubble screen would be of no benefit, since the safety and CB should be charging in. I like your play much better, except I might have the TE to try and sneak behind the LBs on a drag route. The slot receiver though, wouldn't he have to be behind the QB (backwards pass) in order to legally receive the ball? I think it's illegal touching, if not.

I guess another alternative you could have the QB option right, and have the covered WR crack on the linebacker. Then it becomes an option pass, but again one would have to account for the safeties that would charge at the snap (maybe even creep up before the snap). Maybe the pitchman takes on the safety.

Yep, they could not throw to Knowles from this formation, but he has to be on the line because they need three guys in the backfield to run the trap and have the fake trap action. Alabama didn't seem to recognize that the slot guy was ineligible (hence the safety staying deep instead of coming up in run support) so it is possible that you could sneak the tight end behind that safety if he jumps the screen fake.

Viva El Guapo

I think I would like to see our current offense...but in hurry up mode. It seems like we have much better schematics this go round but i'm concerned our offense is too dependent on talent and playmakers which I fear we lack (especially at wr).

I watched Washington run a similar triple option look we used with a screen option which is similar to what Clemson does, and just like Clemson but unlike us, they run it in hurry up which I feel catches the defense off guard. They destroyed Boise st running one play 3 times in a row.

Few years ago I made an off remark (a little out of sarcasm), saying that since our play calling was so damn simple and we had tyrods legs, we might as well run the hurry up. People didn't seem to agree maybe due to nostalgia and now even Bill Belichik runs a hurry up offense; it doesn't have to be in spread. The ODU coach mentioned somewhere that he has like 10 plays in his entire book with only 2 running plays; I think we all know how effective his offense is.

I feel we have the right parts to still run a power - run based - offense, but in hurry up mode we have a chance to break open more of those Trey Edmunds runs or create separation with our speedy but underskilled receivers catching the defense off guard...

...also I believe that what's plaguing LT3 is he is thinking too much. He walked in on 3rd and long in his 1st appearance and threw a strike to Dany Coale. He then struggled for his 1st 5 games and once the weight of the world was lifted off his shoulders after a dismal performance against Clemson he showed up the next week with the game of his life. He has always performed better in his 2min offense which obviously is in hurry up.

The combination of proper offensive coaching (which i believe we finally have) from our line to the play design to Logan's mechanics, coupled with hurry up I think could be special.

I'll admit I tend to speculate quite a bit but I think there's something there...I'd like to know what ya'll think...

Minority Report.

Interesting idea. Don't give LT time to think because it trips him up. That really isn't that unusual. Given time, most of us will start to doubt our decisions. With practice and lots of experience read and react works very well.

I love the idea of hurry up, option looks with good counter plays thrown in (PA, designed inside runs off of a triple option look). I think this would work well to catch the defense off guard.
I also like the idea of getting a mismatch by putting Caleb in at H-back and working him as a pass threat against a LB or an option threat against a Nickle and hurry up to the line to keep the defense from changing personnel.
P.s. Ify Scrapp Jackson, is that you??

What's Important Now?
The Lunchpail. The Hammer. BeamerBall.
Deal some damage boys

Hey french, you said:

The rushing yardage beyond the Edmunds touchdown run wasn't Earth shattering, but Virginia Tech consistently found themselves in much more manageable 3rd-and-4 type situations versus the 3rd-and-11s that plagued the team last year.

I have bad news: the stats don't really support this.

I pulled up the stats from the Bama game, as well as the stats from last year. In 2012, we averaged 17.6 3rd downs per game. In the Bama game, we had 19 3rd downs. In 2012, an average of 5.9 of those 3rd downs were 4 yards or less. In the Bama game, we had 6 3rd downs of 4 yards or less.

Here's a look at the distribution:

Unfortunately we really didn't find ourselves in a better position on 3rd down on Saturday as compared to last season. :-/

I will tip my hat to you, but I think those stats don't tell the full story. I looked at those six drives that ended up as 3rd and 10 or more. The final three drives that finished in 3rd and 10 featured two or three incomplete passes, and Edmunds only got a handful of carries sprinkled in. It was a bi-product of the situation. The Hokies couldn't connect on passes, and Alabama stacked up on the dive and ignored the threat of play action or the pitch.

The first two 3rd and longs were the first two drives, where Edmunds didn't get a single carry.

When the game was competative and the Hokies were working to establish the run with Edmunds, they were in 3rd and managable every series.

3rd drive: 3rd and 4
4th drive: TD
5th drive: INT on 2nd and 7
6th drive: 3rd and 6 (incomplete on 1st, 4 yard run on second)
7th drive: 3rd and 1 (9 yard run on 2nd down, dreadful rollout on 3rd and 1)
8th drive: 3rd and 1 and 3rd and 4 (then Logan took a delay of game)
9th drive: 3rd and 7 (two minute drill)
10th drive : 3rd and 5

If you look closely, each one of those drives that ended with a punt was preceeded by an incomplete pass. They were getting managable situations, but they failed utterly on 3rd down conversions in the passing game.

Viva El Guapo

I'd be more interested to see the 3rd down breakdown per game, than an average across the season to see if there are any outlier games in which we had really good position on 3rd downs.