Emptying the Notebook: Wednesday Morning Media Session 8/20

Scot Loeffler, Stacy Searels, Shane Beamer, Travon McMillian, Trey Edmunds, and Chris Durkin spoke with the media this morning.

When the news of Braxton Miller's injury became official, many Virginia Tech fans exhaled a short sigh of relief. It's an unfortunate injury for a talented player. With Miller sidelined not only will Tech have one less Buckeye weapon to stop, but projected quarterback J.T. Barrett will only have one game of experience, his first start, before facing a defense designed to obliterate quarterbacks.

While the optimism is understandable, there is one thing that I personally want to say: settle down. A lot of things need to happen between now and September 6th for Tech to come out of Columbus with a victory, one of the biggest being the ability to move the football. After today's media session, it seems like the offense is taking a step in the right direction.

There were three big takeaways from today:

1. The Wild Turkey package sounds like it could actually be a thing.

Today was the first time I've seen freshman quarterback Chris Durkin in person, and the initial observation is that he's a big dude. I know that when you hear the words "big dude" right next to "Hokie quarterback" you probably think Logan Thomas. While I understand that's where your mind probably takes you, it's not the same at all.

The best way I can describe Durkin is that if I had to choose a guy to run through a 20-foot block of ice, it would be him. He's thick and looks like he's just ready to destroy someone at a moment's notice.

While it's pretty obvious that Durkin won't play quarterback this year, getting on the field isn't out of the question. The Wild Turkey is something that has come up a lot during offensive interviews, and his name has been thrown around a lot.

"That was kind of the offense that we ran in high school, was a lot of wildcat stuff, and a lot of passing off that Wildcat package. So I think coming in here, doing it for four years in high school, I feel comfortable doing the Wildcat package here," Durkin said. "Coach Loeffler knows what he wants to do with that, knows the guys he wants to put in there. We've got faith in him that he's going to do that right thing when it comes to that."

Like most things on this offense, however, it doesn't sound like much has been decided about who will be in the package this season.

"I don't know, it's all up to coach. It's a battle at the wildcat position, at the quarterback position, and you know we're all just grinding it out every single day to see who can get that spot."

Durkin said that three guys have been working out of the that role in practice, and they are him, Bucky Hodges and Brenden Motley.

That's a little surprising because Motley hasn't been a name that has surfaced much in the Wild Turkey discussion. Scot Loeffler didn't have much to say about the formation today, but hearing Motley's name thrown out there did make me think of something that Loeffler said on Saturday after the scrimmage.

"It's [Motley's injury] is disappointing. You know, we're 10 or 11 days into this deal and being out so long...Mot's going to have a role and Mot's going to be...he's so much improved too.

"We're going to work with him and try to bring him along as fast as we possibly can. But being out for so long, it's just a really unfortunate situation for him, something that's completely out of his control."

I know a lot of that is simply feeling badly for a guy that gets hurt, but if Loeffler and Frank Beamer have basically admitted that Motley isn't in the running for the starting job, what role is he going to have? Now he could just mean a role as a valuable backup, but maybe it could be as Wild Turkey quarterback?

I wouldn't be shocked if that was the case.

2. Whether or not Trey Edmunds is as healthy as he says he is, the running backs will be much deeper than last season.

While much of the focus has been on the freshman backs, arguably the most important question is whether or not Edmunds is back all the way from that gruesome broken leg that he suffered against Virginia last November. Frank Beamer insinuated on Tech Talk Live that Edmunds wasn't quite back from the injury yet, so Trey was asked, is he still a little gimpy?

"At times. If I had to say as a whole, I'd say I'm more on the back ready side than I am not being ready," Edmunds said. "I guess at times it is a little gimpy, as he said, but I feel like I'm ready and I'm ready to go."

One would wonder then, how taking some hits against Tech's defense in practice would go. On that note, Trey thinks it's going pretty well.

"Oh most definitely. Going against our defense you're going to take hits, you're going to take lots of hits. So you know it was definitely good, I was happy to get out to the line of scrimmage and just get hit and get back up, get hit and get back up again. It definitely was a feeling of comfort."

Now for the part that will make everyone wring their hands. When asked about the running back rotation and what he planned to do with his guys, Shane Beamer let everyone know that the process was still ongoing, but that he's prepared to have a lot of guys available for carries.

"You could conceivably dress six. We'll make some decisions on those guys. I know as soon as I say that, all of our fans will melt down the message boards about the fact that we're playing six tailbacks. That may be the case, may not be the case. Each guy kind of has a unique skill set and there's ways, if we do play Travon [McMillian], that we want to get him the ball. There's ways if Shai plays, we want to get him the ball.

"And I think we've got to go into each game and figure out what each guy does well and things like that. So we're not going to come out of the William and Mary game or come out of the Ohio State game and say 'only these two guys have played, and they have played every snap of the game'. I'm sorry, but we're going to get other guys in the game. Some guys are better on third down. Some guys are better at running pass routes than other guys, some guys you trust more in protection than other guys. So we want to do what each guy does well.

"But yes, I know the big question. We're going to have it narrowed down as to who our primary ball carriers are. But there's other guys that we want to get involved in different ways as well, as we go week to week."

That may not be exactly what most of you want to hear, but think about it this way: last year, there were times that both Edmunds and J.C. Coleman were dinged up and there was a big dropoff between those two and the next group of players. This year, Tech's going into the season with two backs (Edmunds and McKenzie) coming off major injuries and another (Marshawn Williams) coming off surgery that he had in late July. If the running game is really going to improve they're going to need, you know, healthy running backs.

3. It seems like Travon McMillian will be a factor.

McMillian said that there were three main guys who are in the mix for kick return duties, with him, J.C. Coleman and Deon Newsome, and it seems like McMillian's speed could be very versatile for the team.

"I think the transition to running back is going to help the team," McMillian said. "Using my speed to get across the edge and everything, it's going pretty well.

"They're going to also line me up at receiver, get mismatches and things like that."

Both Loeffler and Shane Beamer have seen the versatility, and hinted that there could be some playing time in his immediate future.

"We'll see where that goes. He's got explosion, he's got speed," Loeffler said. "If he plays on special teams, which I know he will, we'll obviously have a role for him on offense so we're not wasting a year."

Beamer was a little more even, giving the freshman praise, but still not promising contribution this year.

"He has a unique skill set on offense and does a lot of things really well.

"He's got a knack for making people miss, and he's good in space. Can he help us on special teams? That's what we're trying to find out. You know, if he's going to play four plays a game on offense to try to get him in space, but he's not helping us on special teams, we're not going to play him. He needs to show that he can help us on special teams and that he can continue to come along and help us on offense. He's another one that that Friday scrimmage will be big for, and let's see where he is."

Two slightly differing takes, but if you read between the lines it seems like McMillian is going to be a contributor for Tech this season.

A few other notes:

It sounds like Stacy Searels is pretty comfortable with 4/5ths of his line, with Laurence Gibson at left tackle, Caleb Farris at center, Augie Conte at right guard and Jonathan McLaughlin at right tackle. Searles said that David Wang, Wyatt Teller and Alston Smith are all vying to start at left guard.

The big news last Friday was that Mark Shuman would be retiring from football after tearing his meniscus. Who will step in an replace him as the swing tackle is a big question now, but Searles spoke highly of a few guys, converted defensive tackle Wade Hansen in particular.

"I'm really pleased with Wade, He's a natural competition, which you like that first of all. And he has good feet, he's got good hands. When he's not thinking, he's a lot better as a player. He's trying to grasp our offense, on the first day you just throw him out there and say 'block that guy' and he naturally does it, then I start coaching him up and it goes to crap [laughs]. I just told him 'do what you can naturally do,' but the kid's going to be a good player, he's a competitor."

On Saturday it sounded like the offense was able to hit a few long runs, so I asked Searles what he saw from his line during the scrimmage.

"Saturday I was excited about it. We did some things, of course it's a live situation, but we did some things that we hadn't been able to accomplish through camp or even the spring. I think the backs were running extremely hard, and the harder they run, the more confidence our guys get up front. It all sort of feeds off each other, and I think that's what they did in that scrimmage."

If anything, that sounds like a positive development.

Contact the editor about this post anytime by phone: (703) 646-1931 or mail: 3057 Nutley St Suite 633, Fairfax, Virginia 22031.

Comments

6 RBs = 20 touchdowns

3 Wildcat QBs = 7 touchdowns

8 true freshmen playing = 9 touchdowns

Winning every game this season = PRICELESS

but what = pussy touchdowns?

"I'm high on Juice and ready to stick it in!" Whit Babcock

I don't know, but one thing's for sure...you can't deny them!

As far as this site is concerned:

I see someone clearly doesn't understand the running joke...

Is that per game or per season? Per season it doesn't thrill me.

But I am so on board with scoring 216 points a game.

Pretty sure Bud could hold just about anyone else to 215 points or less.

*per quarter

I don't understand the wildcat. We have a very limited number of plays. We have a handful, or more, of good tailbacks. Why would you want to take a running play away from them? I understand having an extra blocker, but if that is such an advantage, why not run only the wildcat?

its nonsensical. Retire the stupid wildcat or commit to it entirely.

out of curiosity, what does committing to to the wild turkey entirely entail?

Drinking a whole lot of this.

2

Somewhere on this site there is a picture of shot glasses spelling out VT with a bottle of WT in the background. It's the Wild Turkey formation.

#Hokies

I have a picture somewhere of a bunch of Wild Turkey 101 airplane bottles in "VT" formation

Flowers, Harris, Chancellor, Carmichael, Whitley, Hosley, Fuller, Exum

Very "Loaded" question...

Pain is Temporary
Chicks Dig Scars
Glory is Forever
Let's Go Hokies!!

Because with that package we can get the following on the field:

Bucky, Cline, Mallet, Redman, Edmunds, McMillian, Caleb 2 WR's and your pick at QB ( durkin, motley,brewer)

The main thing with wild turkey is being able to line up pre snap and identify where you have the best matchup.. then attack it.

"I'm high on Juice and ready to stick it in!" Whit Babcock

Retire the stupid wildcat or commit to it entirely.

Eh... that a bit like saying "retire the shotgun or commit to it entirely".

The Wild Turkey is just a formation/personnel grouping... just like any other formation. It's effectiveness is determined by the quality of athlete and the quality of coaching (execution). I'm not saying that I would use the Wild Turkey this year, but I do think it's possible the coaching staff finds an effective way to utilize the formation.

for one thing, VT has very inexperienced QBs, if they can get a few offensive plays from different formations/personnel then VT can still have a variety of offense for other teams to prepare for without it all being on one inexperienced QB

See Duke's short yardage package this past year and then reconsider what you're saying here.

The Brandon Connette Special.

No, I *don't* want to go to the SEC. Why do you ask?

so your saying we shouldnt run any reverses or hand offs to WRs either? having good tailbacks means squat if a defense can key in on just them. although im not a fan of tim tebow he almost exclusivly ran wild cat his 1st year in gainesville with chris leak being the primary qb and they were a pretty dang good team and tebow made some pretty dang good plays.

tebow passing stats his fr year
Year School Conf Class Pos G Cmp Att Pct Yds Y/A AY/A TD Int Rate
*2006 Florida SEC QB 14 22 33 66.7 358 10.8 12.5 5 1 201.7
tebow rushing stats his fr year
Year School Conf Class Pos G Att Yds Avg TD
*2006 Florida SEC QB 14 89 469 5.3 8

wasnt lefty a part of this team???

#Bapn ain't EZ

Wanna win put boobie in! Let boobie spin coach!

Jump pass anyone?

someone explain to me the point of the jump pass?

"I promise you I will keep getting back up as long as you keep pushing forward." -Michael Brewer
"That kid you're talking to right there, I think he played his nuts off! And you can quote me on that shit!" -Bud Foster

It looks like a sell out run play from the wildcat. Forces the LBs and safeties to attack and we drop someone in behind them and the jump is to get height on the pass without throwing it over the target's head.

If we had Tim Tebow, it would make sense. We don't.

Considering all scrimmages are closed, we have no idea what we have. We didn't see much of the Wild Turkey in the Spring, but it's obviously been a focus this fall. I've said it before, but if you're idea of the Wild Turkey is doing what we did with Boone every time it's used, you're have the wrong expectation. We have people back there who are fully capable of running or passing. That's the element that can catch teams off guard. It's a formation just like an Ace, Shotgun, Pistol, or I. It's not a specific play and that's what our team has been installing this Fall. Our offense never has been a team to run exclusively out of one formation which is why we often are labeled as a "multiple offense" team. That's just how it is given our style of play.

And if you show it one time in a game, every team after that has to prepare for it. Bucky would be extremely useful just in the sense that you can throw Brewer/Leal in a WR slot, have two other WR's and still another TE on the field. That's a hard adjustment for any defense to cope with on the fly, on the 3 yard line, with the game on the line. Confusion, and extra prep time. That's the wildcat. I don't see the offense being based on it, but it's a wrinkle. Motley and Durkin who can both throw, or run, more for a defense to think about.

I think of it as a Jumbo-Jumbo package.
Imagine 5 lineman +3 TE plus Rogers, Wiliams and Durkin.

From that we can just push the scrum across the line, Durkin take it with Rogers and Williams lead, toss to a TE or toss to the fast WR crossing the back of the endzone because the safeties sold out on the run and left the middle of the back line if the endzone empty.

It's not a bad idea and runs out of a basic 3TE set so, other than a change in QB, not that much extra to learn.

Danny caught that ball.

Friends don't let 5 star friends commit to UVA.

I have inside info. - Whit

I always love this angle. Time is very, very, limited in college football. Having extra wrinkles - effective things - just causes more headaches for your opponents. You dictate to other teams how they must budget their time.

Sanctions, blockades, dropping propaganda leaflets, whatever it takes...It's total war out there.
risk

A picture is worth a thousand words. A gif is worth a million.

It doesn't matter to me what the formation is or which players are running it. If it moves the chains and scores TD's then I'm going to be happy. Anything will be better then what we have watched over the last two season's. GO HOKIES!

Touchdown Tech - Bill Roth

This 1000%. We need to get back to ball control offense, holding on to the rock and giving our D a break every now and then. I mean F&F will score at least 4 or 5 TD's this year but our O has to do something... ;)

Damn the Man! Save the Empire!

'01, Bravo Company, Hokies, Midshipmen, Lakers, Dodgers, Nationals, da Raiders.

The offense's ability to eat up clock this year will be very key to our success. The Defense is great, but depth at the DL and LB is a bit thin and inexperienced after the 1st string. Also, our 1st string D-line is undersized and its effectiveness is built on speed, so against big OLs we need these guys to be 100% in the 4th quarter. Therefore, the D needs to be on the field less then last year. The offensive scheme has to be able to do this. Accountability!

Pain is Temporary
Chicks Dig Scars
Glory is Forever
Let's Go Hokies!!

Or giving us enough that we can afford to get the less experienced defenders in the game for meaningful snaps, without having to worry too much about the consequences if they get picked on.


-What we do is, if we need that extra push, you know what we do? -Put it up to fully dipped? -Fully dipped. Exactly. It's dork magic.

Really hoping that Shane doesn't go over board with a running back rotation. I'd hate to think that plays could be predicted based on which running back was in the game.

I understand having a stable of running backs in case someone goes down or is still limited from their injury. But I still believe that we should have no more than 3 primary backs in the game (until garbage time if we every get to that this year) with 2 of them being the main workhorses and the third coming in for change of pace or whatever.

If you don't want to recruit clowns, don't run a clown show.

I'm not going to be that worried about it.
Looks like Edmunds is going to have to take it easy for a while so, limited reps for him, he's already redshirted so, we're not burning his.

2 RBs back for kick and punt returns.
I bet we play who is 100% and let the other guys heal. We have a good mix of players.
I suspect we may redshirt one guy that's not 100% at season start but I don't see 3 rotating RBs each game except for special packages such as goal line/short yardage and taking reps as WR/FB/HB.

Danny caught that ball.

Friends don't let 5 star friends commit to UVA.

I have inside info. - Whit

I agree with Egbert.

Also, If we keep a gaggle of RBs (is that what you call a group of them?) in uniform this year, then I think we redshirt some QBs this year. We've got lots of weapons for the Wild Turkey (if used), so Freshman QBs will be redshirted. Only makes sense...

Pain is Temporary
Chicks Dig Scars
Glory is Forever
Let's Go Hokies!!

I believe Mot is defintiely the number three and they want him ready to step in at a moments notice.

#Hokies

You know what? I'm starting to think that Wade Hansen will be a good player for us.

I think he's a transfer walk-on, no? At 21 years old, he's already been in another program, transferred to ours, and sounds like he's working out. Maturity + effort + experience + taking a chance at a transfer to play D1 ball = Hokie.

This. I really like what he had to say about being a walk-on and just being proud to be part of the team. Seems like he'll do anything he can to try and help the team and you can't ask for a whole lot more than that.

in Fuller we trust

I agree. The coaches seem to have figured out where he can help the most. And he seems to be willing to put the work in.

I'll jump in here, too. Looks to be a great asset to the team with that simply awesome, genuine attitude, and is almost a guaranteed of success later in life. Who wouldn't love to have a guy like that in your work environment?
Instant hire, right there...we'll figure out what you can do later. Good stuff.

A picture is worth a thousand words. A gif is worth a million.

Instant hire, right there...we'll figure out what you can do later.

Could not have said it better

Well we actually have Wild Turkey QBs who CAN throw the ball...it's not just a run only formation anymore necessarily

Don't take success for granted, once you do failure will follow and hurt that much more