Spring Look In: Pittsburgh

Since the Frank Beamer era, Pitt has been a familiar opponent of the Hokies. Beginning this season, the Virginia Tech–Pittsburgh series will continue on a permanent basis as conference and division foes. Second-year head coach Paul Chryst and The Panthers will look to improve on an up-and-down 2012 campaign that included 6 wins, a bowl appearance, near upset of Notre Dame, inexplicable loss to Youngstown State, and dominating win against Virginia Tech.

In his first season, Chryst inherited a capable quarterback, Tino Sunseri, and talented backfield, Ray Graham and freshman sensation Rushel Shell. None of the three will return in 2013. Sunseri and Graham were seniors, and Shell had California dreams (transfered to UCLA) after friction with the coaching staff.

Shell's decision — based partially on coaches' criticisms of Shell — reached a critical stage March 22 when he was hurt and pulled himself from practice

The College Football League?

When Nick Saban talks, people listen. A mic consistently in the face is a byproduct of winning national championship rings for half his fingers. (That is correct by 3rd grade standards, when we all were giddy to learn the thumb technically wasn't a finger. Or by Alabama standards, where they awarded Saban a commemorative 5th ring for the thumb.)

As your may or may not know, the Big Ten is working toward eliminating I-AA games from its team's schedules. Saban was asked his thoughts on the Southeastern Conference possibly doing the same eventually.

"I'm for five conferences — everybody playing everybody in those five conferences," the Alabama coach said Thursday night before speaking at a Crimson Caravan stop. "That's what I'm for, so it might be 70 teams, and everybody's got to play 'em. …"

Seventy is a number that's divided evenly by 5. Of the five power conferences, the SEC, B1G, and ACC have, or will soon have, 14 full-time members. The Big 12 is chilling with 10 and the Pac-12 doesn't dig misnomers. These are probably the leagues Saban is talking about, and perhaps in his scenario the latter two move to 14 teams (14 * 5 = 70).

Home and Home series with Michigan

Editor's Note: Thanks to 757Hokey for starting this thread in the forum. --Joe

The following is from the official HokieSports.com release.

Virginia Tech and the University of Michigan announced Thursday that they have agreed to a home-and-home football series that will be played during the 2020 and 2021 seasons. The agreement calls for the Hokies and Wolverines to play in Ann Arbor, Mich., on Sept. 19, 2020, and meet the following season in Blacksburg on Sept. 11, 2021.

Spring Look In: North Carolina

Offensively last season, North Carolina was a juggernaut. The Heels set school records for points per game (40.6), and total points (487). Those marks were good enough for second in the ACC, and eighth nationally in scoring offense. Larry Fedora wants to dictate tempo, stress a defense, and run 80-85 plays a game. Regarding the spring game, Fedora said, "Offensively, I thought our tempo was just very, very average, to say the least. I didn't think there was anything special about it." Although, he basically said the same thing after the 2012 spring game.

Accurate passer Bryn Renner (65.40% in 2012) returns for his final go-around with 25 career starts under his belt. Renner completed 16 of 27 passes for 216 yards, 3 touchdowns, and a pick during UNC's spring game. Before that, Renner was so-so in the team's final scrimmage leading up to the spring game, "Renner had three overthrows on open guys and was picked off twice. He looked good on timing routes and made a couple of pretty throws in tough situations — e.g. dropping that one in to Davis."

2013 Spring Game: The Progression of the Passing Game

The most heavily scrutinized Virginia Tech player when the Hokies take the field against Alabama on August 31st will be quarterback Logan Thomas. Logan suffered through a debilitating 2012 campaign where he took a physical pounding, never fully established trust with his receivers outside of Corey Fuller, and completely lost the touch and accuracy that made him look like a bonafide first day NFL draft pick towards the end of the 2011 season. Scot Loeffler was tasked not only with re-establishing the Virginia Tech lunch pail mentality on the offensive side of the football, but also rebuilding Logan Thomas as a quarterback.

Those efforts produced mixed results in the spring. In two scrimmages, Thomas had some struggles in the face of a heavy pass rush and a limited playbook. In one scrimmage, he looked dynamite throwing deep skinny posts, fades, and bootlegs. The spring game, against the back up secondary and basic defenses, appeared to be a vehicle to give Logan a dominant performance and build confidence for the build up to the Tide.

Travon McMillian Commits to Virginia Tech

Travon McMillian gave his verbal pledge to the Hokies during a press conference at his high school, C. D. Hylton in Woodbridge, this afternoon (via TechSideline.com). McMillian visited the Hokies for both junior day and the spring game. Travon plays quarterback, however both Rivals and 247 both list him as an athlete. At the beginning of April, he named his top 5 as: Virginia Tech, Virginia, California, Stanford and Georgia Tech. The 6-0, 190-pound junior picked Virginia Tech over Georgia Tech and Cal, and he held other offers from Auburn, N.C. State, UNC, and UVa among other schools.

This is what McMillian told WaPo's Preston Williams last Friday about the recruiting process.

"I talked to my parents about it and a lot of new schools are coming in," McMillian said. "I feel like those three schools give me the best academics and football. That's why I want to make my decision now. I don't think I should wait.

2013 Spring Game: Offensive Line Film Review

Run the football. Those three words will define the 2013 Virginia Tech season. The Hokies will win if they can run the ball effectively over 30 times a game. Running the football will set up play action, and play action will give the Hokies the opportunity for big gains. Running the football will allow the defense to be aggressive on limited snaps, rather than being forced to stay on the field for long stretches. Running the football will lead to victories. I made the trek down interstate 81 for one reason. I wanted to see the Hokies run the football.

Perhaps for me, nothing was more disappointing than the inability of the offense to run the football against the second- and third-team defensive groupings. I didn't expect them to be a well-oiled machine. It requires strict adherence to simple blocking rules, but with that simplicity comes a feel that can only be developed through experience. What is the precise moment when you should peel off a down linemen to go to the second level? These things take time. Nevertheless, when your top five offensive linemen go against your 6th-12th best defensive linemen, you expect the top offensive line to win those battles. Why didn't it happen on Saturday?

Losing The Spring Game: A Naked Eye French on The Bench

I am really at a loss for words folks. The Hokie Spring Game format was designed to reinvigorate the fan base as an electric demonstration of power. The first team defense would run roughshod over the second team offense, and the offense was loaded up with every potential contributor and would light up what amounted to the 3rd team defense with the exception of the linebackers and corners, sendings the faithful home happy and selling the remaining season tickets for a weak home schedule.

Gut Reactions: Maroon (Orange)-White Game

Editor's Note: If you remember these posts from during the season, these are my initial thoughts of what I just watched without the benefit of film. French will most likely have a film review completed by the end of the week. Until then, leave your thoughts below. --Joe

Like during the 2012 season, Logan Thomas was inconsistent Saturday afternoon. Overall, 16 for 29 (55%) for 214 yards is serviceable, but his 3 interceptions were all bad decisions. (Although Josh Stanford took the blame for both pick-sixes.) An offense that wants to play it close to the vest by running the ball, can't afford turnovers. On many plays, Thomas fixated on a single receiver instead of working through his progressions, and he threw a fast ball that should have been a touch pass to Holmes out of the backfield. After hearing and reading about how sharp LT3 looked in the second open scrimmage, it's disappointing to watch him struggle in front of fans looking for encouragement.

It wasn't all bad, he tossed some pretty balls too, the big gainer to Stanford comes to mind. I still believe Thomas has the physical tools, and I'm hopeful that as he continues to work on his own and with Loeffler this summer he will improve.

C.J. Reavis Commits to Virginia Tech

As reported by Rivals.com, 4-star recruit C.J. Reavis has given his verbal pledge to the Hokies. The 6-2, 200-pound safety picked the Hokies over Tennessee. He held additional offers from Virginia, Nebraska, Oklahoma, West Virginia, Wisconsin, among many more. Yeah, his recruitment really exploded over the last few months. Tech's Thomas Dale connection, and the tireless effort of Shane Beamer helped the Hokies' cause here.

Here's what he told Rivals.com Jason Stamm after committing.

"It feels great to be a Hokie," Reavis text messaged HokieHaven.com. "Like it's a dream come true. I've always wanted to play football on a big stage and win championships & what better way to do that than in your home state."

Here's what his coach Kevin Tucker said on April 8th.

"I'm getting phone calls every day," Tucker said.

Tennessee and Vanderbilt also recently made offers. Reavis' list includes Ohio State, Michigan, Virginia, Virginia Tech, North Carolina, Maryland and Georgia Tech.

Maroon (Orange)-White Game Talking Points

On Saturday the glorious day known as Spring Game will be here. Spring Game Day is a day of warm weather foolishness, drunken debauchery and hopefully a little football...and that's just for the alumni.

Spring Game day is a holiday unlike any other, signifying the start of a new football season while somberly reminding you that actual football isn't here another four months and change. While that is a depressing thought, on Saturday the helmets will crash, touchdowns will (hopefully) be scored and the parking lots will be littered with more beer cans, liquor bottles and boxes of wine than at a joint party thrown by Marshall Henderson and Johnny Manziel.

While this weekend will be mostly fun and games, and by games I mean corn hole in BOTS (Bottom of the Stairs...if you get it, you get it), it will also be a significant measure of progress made by the team in the past month or so. Every single position group has questions of some sort, and will be looked for to answer the call of the coaches.

We've talked a lot about the new coaches, so I won't say much more than this: it will be a different type of Tech team on the sideline this season, and hopefully that will be noticeable from the stands on Saturday.

Your ACC Football/Game of Thrones Mashup

Editor's Note: Bumped to the front because I love this show (haven't read the books) and it's an amazing effort by Wartooh.

Season Three of Game of Thrones is well underway and the Virginia Tech Spring Game is this Saturday. Let's stretch some analogies! As the ACC expands its ranks to 14 teams this season, we find more than a few parallels.

House Targaryen - Virginia Tech

Words: Fire and Bud

French on the Bench: Progress is Slow, But Sure

We are now over two weeks into the new era of Virginia Tech football, and the changes in identity that we hoped to see are starting to take. At the same time, reading the comments here and on social media, there seems to be an some apprehension about the continued struggles to run the football, especially in the red zone. I have spent the last two weeks reviewing what little bit of film I have access to, reading commentary from the beat writers, posters here, and speaking on the phone with people who attended the scrimmage whose football acumen I respect. I want to share some of the observations I have had and perhaps touch on some things that have not received much ink over the last two weeks.

Unleashing Hell- The Bud Foster Defense

2013 Spring Practice: Second Open Scrimmage

So we've been here before, the second public scrimmage, last before the ever-important Maroon—White game. The public had already seen the team play once, but it was very vanilla. A lot of form correction, coaches yelling and missed plays (basically, everything you expect from the first scrimmage).

Traditionally the second scrimmage looks exactly like the first one. Same corrections of the same mistakes, and almost no progress shown, which is usually a concern. Let's just say that that was not the case today. Don't get me wrong, plenty of mistakes were made—with expletive laden coaching rants following them—but they were not the same as the first scrimmage on Monday. There were many less fundamental problems, especially on offense.

From the mouth of offensive coordinator Scot Loeffler:

"I saw some improvement," offensive coordinator Scot Loeffler said. "But we had too many balls on the ground. We've got to stop fumbling the ball (two lost fumbles). We've got to catch the ball (four drops). On short yardage, we need to improve. On third-and-2, when we’re down there, we had to pull the ball and run a naked bootleg with Logan (the 3-yard TD run). That's not our mentality. We're going to line up and knock people off the ball and run the ball in the end zone. So that needs to improve.

Spring Practice 2013: First Open Scrimmage, More Observations

Hold on, wait a second. I'm trying to contain my excitement...can't...stop...smiling...IT'S OFFICIALLY FOOTBALL SEASON AGAIN!

Yesterday I went out to watch some classic spring football, a Tech vs. Tech scrimmage that wetted my unquenchable thirst for Hokie football, a thirst that last year's debacle of a season couldn't even quench.

I heard everything that everyone else had. The new coaches were energized, focused on the little things and have quickly become media darlings, much different than their predecessors. While that is great, I still wanted to see it. I wanted to see the progress Logan Thomas was making under Scot Loeffler and that the entire offensive line was making under Jeff Grimes.

I came away from the scrimmage with many different thoughts about the offense, most of it good.

Logan Thomas: I know the thing that stuck out to everyone on Twitter was that he threw two interceptions. To me, that's not a huge concern right now. He looked more relaxed in the pocket, and if he missed a throw he would actually come out the next pass and correct his mistake. His pocket footwork is already a little cleaner than it was last season. It's early, but I expect him to improve, at least to the median, from a disappointing 2012.

2013 Spring Practice: First Open Scrimmage

This is an open thread for now, but Brian, Mike, and Andrew are at the game and this post will be updated once the scrimmage is over. If you're at the scrimmage, take advantage of our mobile redesign and leave any comments below.

The takes from Brian, Mike, and Andrew follow. Without the benefit of the film, these open scrimmages are hard to cover. My hope is three sets of eyes provide a good feel for what happened in Lane today.

Scrimmage #1 Notes by Brian Marcolini (marcolini11)

There are always a few things that stand out in a scrimmage that carry on into the regular season. For example, last spring Dadi Nicolas looked like a star on the third team. I mean he couldn’t be blocked. I thought that it was just because he was playing against a freshman tackle...but there just becomes a point in time where it is OBVIOUS that a guy is good, no matter who he’s lined up against. A couple people that added to their "Nicolas Stock":

There Were This Many Fans at UVa's Spring Game

I was unable to track down an official attendance number, but UVa spring game jokes will continue for another year. More grabs are here and here. Thanks, 'Hoos. If you're interested in reading actual football things about the scrimmage, a few writers were among the masses at Scott Stadium.

From Mark Giannotto's recap, UVa's new offense was a bit of a mess.

But Saturday's spring game only confirmed that the Cavaliers will need to solve many of the same problems that ailed them during last year's 4-8 campaign. In a defense-dominated scrimmage that featured 14 sacks and three safeties, Virginia proved its quarterback situation remains in flux, especially with an offensive line that couldn't open up holes in the running game.

Even the final score, with the Orange team besting the Blue team, 18-15, added to the intrigue because backup quarterback Greyson Lambert accounted for two Orange-squad touchdown drives, compared with just one orchestrated by No. 1 option David Watford.

Phillip Sims remains UVa's third string QB.

Kalen McCain Commits to Virginia Tech

As first reported (tweeted) by Jason Pughe, Virginia Tech received its fifth verbal commitment of the 2014 recruiting cycle, 6'1", 175-pound defensive back Kalen McCain of Hillside High School in Durham, North Carolina. According to Rivals.com, McCain had other offers from Georgia Tech, Louisville, and North Carolina State. Virginia Tech has made scholarship offers to two other Hillside juniors: RB Donte Thomas-Williams and WR Trevion Thompson. Both Rivals and 247Sports rank McCain as a 3-star prospect.

Chris Hadersbeck is the defensive backs coach at Hillside.

Jason Stamm of Rivals.com spoke to McCain after he committed.

The Week That Was: The Ed Rush Dilemma

The biggest news this week (even bigger than the Kevin Ware injury, which is another discussion for another time) was CBSSports.com college basketball writer Jeff Goodman's story that Ed Rush, the head of Pac-12 basketball officials, offered rewards to his referees if they gave technical fouls to Arizona head coach Sean Miller.

Rush, according to a source within the Pac-12 officiating group, told a group of referees on the Thursday of the Pac-12 tournament in Las Vegas that he would give them $5,000 or a trip to Cancun if they either "rang him up" or "ran him," meaning hit Miller with a technical or toss him out of the game. Rush then reiterated during a Friday morning meeting, according to one referee in attendance, that officials should take similar action against Miller if he did anything on Friday in the Pac-12 semifinals against UCLA.