Logan Thomas and Kyle Fuller at ACC Kickoff

Logan Thomas and Kyle Fuller represnted Virginia Tech at ACC Football Kickoff, the conference's preseason media event, in Greensboro, North Carolina Sunday. I didn't attend in person, but I watched the live stream and followed along on Twitter. This is what piqued my interest.

LT3 nonchalantly talking about trucking defenders en route to six. "Put a left shoulder down on somebody." I'm giddy.

Thomas noted the offensive line's improvement over the course of spring practice.

"Throughout the spring, they have gotten better and better every single week," Thomas said. "Every single scrimmage, you could see the difference. The last scrimmage that we had, the defense was sending the house at us. We were picking it up, we were able to get the ball out of my hand quick, picking up big gains. That's what you want to see and that's what we were doing."

Seeing the light come on for those guys, so to speak, gave him a jolt of excitement.

Cody Journell Reinstated

The release from HokieSports.com is to the point.

Virginia Tech Director of Athletics Jim Weaver announced Friday that Cody Journell has been reinstated to the Hokie football program, effective immediately.

"Cody has fulfilled all of the obligations in conjunction with his suspension and is back as an active member of the team," Weaver said.

The redshirt junior from Ripplemead, Va., made 14-of-17 field goals last year and 43-of-44 extra points in his first year as the starting placekicker.

Journell was the lone bright spot of the kicking game last season. No placekicker stood out during spring ball and because of his consistency last season I have to believe he'll eventually regain the starters job. Hopefully he stays out of trouble off the field. I feel a lot better about our chances in close games now.

2014 TE/DE Xavier Burke Commits to Virginia Tech

As reported by Douglas Doughty, Xavier Burke (Brunswick) has committed to the Hokies. That's Tech's 4th commitment for the 2014 cycle. He attended Virginia Tech's one-day camp last Saturday, and had to have made an impression on the coaches. Rivals.com has him listed at 6-3, 247. I'm unable to find a highlight film, or very much useful information.

The Brunswick Times-Gazette wrote about him last August, "Burke was one of the top tight ends in the Southside District last season and has soft hands to go along with his 6-4 height." It also looks like he played a little quarterback last season, and was an All-Region I Honorable Mention.

2014 WR/DB Javon Harrison Commits to Virginia Tech

As reported by Katherine Smith, Javon (Lakeland, Florida) joins Vincent Mihota (DE) Marshawn Williams (RB) as Tech's third commitment for the class of 2014 . In case you forget, the year is 2012. According to Smith's report, Javon was in Blacksburg last Saturday and attended Tech's one-day camp.

"I [HS coach Irving Strickland] talked with him and he just said he fell in love with the town, the coaches and what they have to offer academically,'' Strickland said. "I asked him if he was sure and he said after talking with him mom and his brothers, he knew it was the right place for him."

Harrison had been a standout receiver for the Red Devils, and one of the tops in Polk County, but he wants to play cornerback in college. Strickland said Virginia Tech provides an opportunity for Harrison to play that position and possibly earn some early playing time.

"Wherever he plays, they are getting a good one,'' Strickland said.

Javon also held a Michigan offer.

French on the Bench: Bud Foster's Gap Defense Part II

The Gap Defense: When Gaps Go Wrong.

Thanks everyone for the great comments and questions on my first edition of "French on the Bench". Many of you asked what causes the defense to be ineffective against different teams, and it is very difficult to address all the reasons because of the different styles of offense. So, I will take a moment to look at the new Clemson offense and try to explain why the Hokies struggled against it last year.

Clemson runs the Urban Meyer spread, a version of the old Single Wing. The Single Wing is predicated on motion, misdirection, play-action, and forcing a defense to commit, and then going somewhere else with the football. It uses a very small number of plays, but each play serves as a direct counter to the others.

Clemson's base bread and butter play for their offense is the buck sweep. It looks similar to an old power sweep, but it is meant to be a kick out play that creates a seam off the tackle. The quarterback bootlegs off the hand-off, which serves as a counter action that must be accounted for (as Tech defended it with the stud end).


2012 Virginia Tech Football Trailer

Leading up to kickoff each season friend of the site BilldozerVT chops, compiles, and scores a trailer video. Like those before it, this year's is absolutely fantastic. Also, this season Bill's going to help out a bit around here and provide us video for to enhance our pre and postgame analysis. Thank you for all of your hard work Bill!

The Hokies kickoff in 48 days.

French on the Bench: Bud Foster's Gap Defense Part I

French on the Bench is a new series of posts that will take a closer look at the theory, fundamentals, and scheme of Tech's offense and defense. It kicks off by detailing the inner workings of the Bud Foster Gap Defense that has baffled most of the ACC over the last 8 years. My most recent columns can now be found on the right sidebar. -- French

The Hokie Gap defense rose from the ashes of the famed "Hokie Attack" 8 man front of the 1990's. When Foster developed the concept for the Gap Defense, he looked to solve two problems. First, how do they maintain the aggressive variability of the Wide Tackle Six, but second, he wanted to stop the growing use of one back multiple receiver offenses from the West Coast to the Spread. Foster used a simple solution. He retained the terminology and many of the blitz schemes of the Attack Defense, and then moved the rover position back to that of a traditional strong safety. To the uneducated eye, the defense features two ends, two tackles, three linebackers, two safeties, and two corners just like a traditional NFL style 4-3, but Foster turns the 4-3 concept on its ear.

Brandon Facyson Commits to Virginia Tech

According to Keith Niebuhr of 247Sports WR/DB Brandon Facyson (Newnan, Georgia) is the second player to commit to the Hokies at Tech's one-day camp.

Brandon held a bunch of I-A offers including: Georgia Tech, Wake Forest, North Carolina, Louisville, South Florida, and Mississippi State. Ultimately he picked the Hokies over the Bees.

Mr. Facyson feels that it will come down to a two team race between Georgia Tech and Virginia Tech. "It probably will be a two school race but we have the rest of the summer before he makes that decision. I know he likes both schools very much and I feel that it will come down to those two in the long run."

"I feel he will be a strong player this season. He's a great athlete and has really stayed in shape with track and is a life guard for the summer." The 6' 2 1/2"-190 Facyson is still growing. "He should be in great shape when he heads off to college."

Brandon boasts a 3.9 GPA and wants to be a heart surgeon.

Tight End (OL) Kyle Chung Commits to Virginia Tech

According to TSL, "At VT's football camp. Just got the word that Kyle Chung committed this morning," the Hokies landed a commitment from another legacy Saturday morning when Kyle Chung (Ponte Vedra, Florida) verballed at Tech's one-day camp. Kyle's father was Hokie great Eugene Chung (offensive tackle 1988-91). Tech offered Kyle at the end of May.

Arkansas, Georgia Tech, Virginia, Maryland, Arkansas State and Temple among others offered the rising 6-4 250 pound junior.

Rambling about the O-Line (Again)

Of all the positions on the team I'm the most critical of the o-line. I played offensive line in high school so I think I have an idea of what it would take to play it on college (I definitely don't), and when I'm watching a game in Lane it's easiest to spot a big guy lumbering after a defender that's slipped by, rather than a running back that missed the hole. During Curt Newsome's first few seasons at Tech (first season was 2006) his o-lines were a dreadful part of a dysfunctional offense. Newsome's lines have gotten progressively better as Tech recruited more athletic players for his "zone blocking" scheme. In 2009 and '10 they turned a corner, and 2011 was the best unit he put on the field (t-22nd nationally with 17 sacks allowed, and 23rd with 198.71 yards per game). Last year's starting five featured four seniors, and now with players being recruited to fit his system, I'm cautiously optimistic Newsome will be able to reload, not rebuild.

As I wrote back in March, Tech isn't depending on four fresh faces.

Hokie Tracks are on Standby

Here's Monday's edition of Hokie Tracks a little early because I'm delayed at the airport and decided that writing a post on my iPhone would be a good idea. Apologies in advance for any typos. Real quick, here are a few site updates. If you haven't noticed yet I tweaked the layout of the site for the better, I think. More layout changes are coming, most of which will focus on a better designed forum. By the way, you can now hover over topics to get a preview of the post inside. A primary goal of this site is to make it the best Hokies community online. If you haven't registered yet, please consider doing so and join the conversation. If you are registered, but have kept quiet, post a link, picture, or start a discussion in the forum. Thank you all for making this place great! As always, any feedback on how to improve is appreciated.

Happy 4th of July

Happy Independence Day y'all! As tradition around here dictates, sack master Bruce Smith accompanies the flag. He's smiling at you, because he's going to eat you.

Imagine this guy in a hot dog eating contest?

Freedom isn't free, so the most appreciative thank you to all the women and men who serve(d) America.

Enjoy eating hot dogs, steaks, cheeseburgers, BBQ, bacon, chili, potato salad, macaroni salad, macaroni and cheese, and whatever else you and your's are preparing until your stomach explodes. Try not to lose any appendages while operating fireworks. Keep it safe on the roads too, don't drink and drive.

It's July, but Here Are a lot of Words About Pitt

This season Virginia Tech will resume playing former Big East foe Pittsburgh. Pitt will be a non-conference road game for Tech in 2012. Moving forward, it's unknown whether Pitt will fulfill the return trip of a home-and-home in 2013, or the Panthers will be ACC members leaving the Hokies likely to head back to Pennsylvania for the second year in a row. As a student I saw the Panthers "upset" the Hokies three straight seasons before Tech joined the ACC. I still can't get over Kevin Jones running wild in 2003 (241 yards, 4 TDs!) only to be bested by Rod Rutherford (and Larry Fitzgerald). I’m anxious for a chance at redemption.

Much like Tech, Pitt's traditionally been a run-first, defensive-minded team, because of which they've historically matched up well against the Hokies. Of the 11 games between the two, 4 have been decided by 7 points or less, and there have only been 3 games decided by 3 or more touchdowns.

The Playoff

The powers that be, conference commissioners and presidents, approved a playoff Tuesday. Finally. Hooray!

Here are my thoughts on the details that are known.

The semifinals will rotate among six bowls. Three games will be played on New Year's Eve, three on New Year's Day. The selection committee will pick all the teams for the six bowls, but because of the bowl tie-ins they will be obligated to take the champions from the SEC, Big 12, Big Ten, Pac-12 and ACC. The championship will be held the first Monday six or more days after the semis—"Championship Monday". Regarding New Year's Day Big 12 commissioner Chuck Neinas said, "We're gonna take it back for college football". They did, but they've also occupied New Year's Eve. Like many of you, I've juggled watching the Peach Bowl and celebrating the new year. It doesn't work well, especially when Tech loses. Come 2014, New Year's Eve and Day will be a two-day, all-day, football holiday. Step aside family and friends.

Dadi Nicolas Suspended Indefinitely

Andy Bitter reports Dadi Nicolas is, "suspended indefinitely following arrest last week," and, "will remain suspended until charges are dropped or resolved. AD Jim Weaver will make reinstatement decision."

According to the Montgomery County General District Court public records, Nicolas was charged with "PRINCIPLE 2ND DEGREE - GRND LARCENY: >=$200 NOT PERSN" under VA Code § 18.2-95.

§ 18.2-95. Grand larceny defined; how punished.

Any person who (i) commits larceny from the person of another of money or other thing of value of $5 or more, (ii) commits simple larceny not from the person of another of goods and chattels of the value of $200 or more, or (iii) commits simple larceny not from the person of another of any firearm, regardless of the firearm's value, shall be guilty of grand larceny, punishable by imprisonment in a state correctional facility for not less than one nor more than twenty years or, in the discretion of the jury or court trying the case without a jury, be confined in jail for a period not exceeding twelve months or fined not more than $2,500, either or both.

Nick Dew and Theron Norman No Longer on the Team

Andy Bitter confirms a bit of chatter that had been making its way around the Interwebs for a little while now.

Dew was a 4-star recruit from Virginia Beach that a lot of Hokies had high hopes for. He played 14 snaps at Whip when Tweedy went out with an ankle injury against Boston College. With both Tweedy and G-W out against Duke, UNC and UVa, Dew played just 15 out of 188 defensive snaps. The coaches opted for more Nickel looks / playing Kyle Fuller at Whip. The writing on the wall was when Dew was listed 4th on the spring depth chart at Whip, behind newcomer Ronny Vandyke. Not only does a player have to be athletic enough to cover the field and make tackle after tackle at Whip, but Bud Foster needs to trust him. It's a bit of thinking man's position, where decisions need to happen instantaneously. It's a hard position to recruit for, and play well.

Theron Norman played just 11 snaps in 2011, and finished buried on the spring depth chart behind Kyshoen Jarrett/Detrick Bonner and Boye Aromire.

A Look Back to the famed Hokie Wide Tackle Six Defense and How It Influenced The Current Hokie Scheme

As some of you may remember, Virginia Tech rose to prominence in the early 90's on the back of elite special teams, a grind-it-out conservative offense, a state of the art weight training program, and most significantly, on the back of a radical defensive approach that took recruits that nobody wanted and turned them loose like the dogs of war on opposing defenses.

Derrick Hopkins Playing Soccer Is Today's Best Picture


/looks at picture

It's mostly because of the look on Skip's face; kid in a candy shop. Also, I'm picturing the girl as Tajh Boyd. Skip haters-gonna-hate-strutting his way towards wrapping her up for a sack.

There's more to it though. Derrick is one of ten students who traveled to the Dominican Republic to study abroad and help lead a youth camp this summer. As best as I can tell after reading through the Ut Prosim: Self-Motivation and Leadership Discovery class blog, the camp hosts about 64 kids and the goal is to use sports as a means to teach health education.

BREAKING: 70 Days Until Kickoff

Tech plays two non-conference BCS opponents outside of Lane Stadium, and draws the two best teams from the Atlantic Division (or maybe the entire ACC). Other than a break at the end of October —which will be spent preparing for back-to-back Thursday night games— the team doesn't have many opportunities to step back for a breath of air. Duke? They always play the Hokies tough (or Tech doesn't take them seriously, either way it's close). Austin Peay? Beating any team on five days rest is a challenge. It's an unforgiving, but manageable schedule. As I look it over, I believe getting out of Death Valley with a "W" will be the toughest challenge. The Tigers are talented, have schemes on both sides of the ball that give Tech fits, and they hold a two-love mental advantage.

Seventy will forever be linked to Clemson. Remember the '12 Orange Bowl. I hate acknowledging West Virginia being successful (y'all know where the Black Diamond Trophy's at), but they showed the Tigers were anything unlike the world-beaters we made the out to be last year. Georgia Tech, NC State, and South Carolina all agree.