Greg Stroman Commits to Virginia Tech

This is a very interesting commitment for the Hokies. Stroman was considered a strong UVA lean, so I didn't devote any time to evaluating him. Today's announcement stunned me, as I expected the Hokies to only take one more defensive back and heard rumors that it would be Lamont Simmons from Florida.

In the end, Coach Gray won over Stroman and his father.

"Talking to Torian Gray, he was kind of a key point to that, knowing he's such a great DB coach and knowing what he's able to teach," Greg Sr. said. "I really wanted Greg to be under him, going out from under my wing and going to someone I trusted, so when he does get on the field, I feel confident he'll be prepared."

I turned on the film of Stroman, and let me tell you that was as entertaining a 15 minute-ish film clip of high school football that you will watch.

2013 Virginia Tech Football Trailer

After the dust and pollen kicked up from spring practice settles, we're left in the middle of nowhere. We stew in not only the summer heat, but our thoughts and speculations on what the season will bring. The days are longer, and time drags on as if the fall will never arrive. The scent of Skipper's smokey blast is just a memory.

Then it happens.

August arrives and camp schedules are announced. Meaningful yet meaningless preseason rankings are released and we can almost taste the turkey legs and bourbon. It's a grueling waiting game that involves too much reading, analyzing and watching whatever we can get our hands on. Nothing makes us want opening kickoff more than a slew of hype trailers. With our adrenaline rushing, and blood boiling, it's as close as we can get to satisfying the intense craving for football.

We know absolutely nothing will tame the craziness you're all bottling up inside for that evening kickoff on August 31st, so instead we offer our understanding and sympathy the only way we know how. HokieNation, we proudly present to you the 2013 Virginia Tech Football Trailer. It may not make the season start any sooner, but we sincerely hope it helps.

Love,
Dozer & Strawther

Cameron Phillips Commits to Virginia Tech

Wide Receiver Cameron Phillips of Hyattsville, MD (DeMatha Catholic) has given a verbal pledge to the Hokies according to Rivals.com.

Phillips is rated as a 3-star prospect by Rivals.com, and as a 4-star player by 247Sports. Phillips is 6-1, 170 and held offers from Rutgers, West Virginia, Wisconsin, and Virginia among others. At this time, 247Sports Crystal Ball had 62% of voters picking Phillips to Virginia, so it seems as if the Hokies beat the Hoos for his services. Phillips camped in Blacksburg at Tech's one-day camp in July.

This is a huge get because wide receiver is a position of need in the 2014 class. While Tech is still in the race for 4-star Noah Brown, former target Austin Proehl went off the Hokies board when he committed to UNC earlier this week. Furthermore, DeMatha Catholic is a hotbed for talent in Maryland, and it may position the program well for other players down the road.

Brady Taylor Commits to Virginia Tech

According to FOX Sports / Scout.com reporter Simone Scott, 3-star offensive tackle Brady Taylor committed to Virginia Tech over Kentucky.

Coach Grimes wanted a 5th offensive lineman in the 2014 class, and he got him. Five offensive linemen in a class is quite a haul, and laying a foundation from within the trenches is the right way to rebuild an offense. Taylor is 6-5, 276 pounds from Columbus, Ohio (Bishop Ready). His highlights are on his Hudl page. We had a bit of a double post (normally when we think a commitment is eminent we have a post prewritten), French's analysis is here.

Welcome to HokieNation Brady!

The Tailbacks

The eyes of Hokie Nation will be on Logan Thomas this fall, but running the football is the most critical component for Scot Loeffler's offense to be successful. Last season, the running backs never got on track, and Logan Thomas was physically decimated trying to pick up the slack. This season Martin Scales and Michael Holmes are removed from the equation, and talented redshirt freshman Trey Edmunds and a new offensive scheme are added to the mix. Edmunds, if you remember, received high praise from Frank Beamer during bowl practice. The running back rotation remained a mystery coming out of the spring, and I will be watching the battle for playing time closely come August. The coaching staff must make the correct choices when it comes to a rotation, or success will be fleeting once the ACC schedule starts in earnest.

Back to the Future for the Whip and the Rover

Last summer, I devoted three French on the Bench columns to the design of Bud Foster's 4-2-5 gap defense. Foster developed the 4-2-5 scheme from 4-4 attack principles (that root back to Phil Elmassian's time at Tech in the mid 90s). The 4-2-5 scheme moved the rover back into more of a traditional strong safety role, while the whip transitioned into a hybrid outside linebacker that was part nickel corner, and part free ranging outside linebacker. As the rovers and whips became smaller and more coverage oriented, Virginia Tech made fewer impact plays (sacks, tackles for a loss, forced fumbles) with the front seven, and instead focused on forcing turnovers with innovative coverage strategies. Eight- and nine-man run support was facilitated through the use of inverted cover 2 zone coverage. In the inverted cover 2 zone, the safeties moved forward to support the run while converging on their underneath zone responsibilities. That left special talents like Jimmy Williams and Jayron Hosley free to sit back in robber coverage and rack up interceptions. Foster even went so far to essentially play nickel corner in place of a whip on a majority of snaps over the course of two seasons.

Notes and Quotes From Day One of ACC Kickoff

Yesterday, the media gathered in Greensboro to interview (and eat ice cream with) ACC football players. The coaches speak today, and as it relates to the Hokies, day one of ACC Kickoff is always more candid. Coach Beamer has mastered the art of coach speak, and is anything but frank when engaging the media. The players are more apt to provide interesting news, like Logan Thomas hinting Andrew Miller will be sticking at right guard this fall.

Thomas was accompanied to Greensboro by Jack Tyler, and together they indirectly let on to some of the causes of the mess that was last season, gave insight on Beamer Co.'s cleanup process, and how they're conducting business going forward.

The following quotes from Tyler and Tyler validated the thoughts going through my head last fall for the team's shortcomings, and made me have an even better outlook on the future.

Tyler:

Alabama's 3-4: Impact Plays via the Zone Blitz

Alabama's defense is bigger, faster, and stronger than Virginia Tech's typical opponent, but their front seven doesn't waltz onto the field with the Superman symbol on their chest. I have watched a bunch of film on the Crimson Tide defense over the course of the summer, and while they certainly had moments of physical dominance, they were pushed around up front by several teams. As discussed last week, LSU bullied Alabama's defensive line and linebackers for long stretches, and Georgia was able to get a push on the interior. Texas A&M ran spread and used a ton of play action and misdirection, but in the running game, they attacked the interior gaps. Alabama's defenders can be moved around the box.

Kirby Smart's defense uses movement, gap fits, and assignment execution to create an umbrella across the front and account for each gap. In a base look, the 3-4 is a conservative defense. Players occupy gaps, read and react, and make the play. By nature, it bends.

Colt Pettit is a Hokie

Editor's note: Hokie Wartooth was all over this as my head was buried underneath a remote desktop connection configuring the new server (8 cores, 16 GBs of ram!). HokieHaven.com spoke with Pettit—he lauds Tech, and says he's firm on his commitment. Pettit's versatility on the field is impressive, and so are offers from Harvard and Yale. Brains and physical tools are the ultimate combination in football. Finally, how about the job Jeff Grimes is doing on the recruiting trail?

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