Counter Option from the Pistol

While the veer option is the bread and butter play of every option based pistol offense, adding effective counters provide big play potential and force the defense to consider additional options when defending the base play.

In both fall scrimmages, the Hokies first team offense has had great success running a counter option, as both Martin Scales and Logan Thomas had long runs on the play. The play pressures the defense at four different points which causes the defenders to sit back, read the play rather than aggressively attack, and be pulled out of position. Let's watch the play on video first.

Now, let's break down the play.

Pre-Snap

The Hokies line up with a tight end right, a flanker (who could be a receiver or J.C. Coleman) about 7 yards wide, and a split end left. In the backfield, Logan Thomas is in the pistol, with Michael Holmes behind him and Joey Phillips to his right. It looks almost like a power I, but without a quarterback.

Upon Logan's signal, Phillips will flex from his fullback position to an H back position, one yard behind the tight end, with the inside foot even with the tight end's outside foot. When Phillips gets set, the flanker will then rocket motion with an aiming point of one yard behind the tailback. The snap should come as the flanker gets even with the fullback.

2012 Staff Predictions

We picked the outcome for each game, as well as, a confidence of win percentage. Basically we assigned the percentage chance (0-100%) of Tech winning a given game, and then derived our expected wins for the season by adding up the confidences and dividing by 100.

Some commentary follows the table after the jump. Feel free to agree or disagree with us, and leave your picks in the comments.

Preseason Practice: Four Notes

No more blue non-contact jersey for D.J. Coles, he's been cleared. From HokieSports.com, "He'll be cleared to participate in Saturday's closed scrimmage, but we fully expect the coaches to hold him out as a precaution." Can he shake off the rust to contribute against Georgia Tech?

According to BeamerBall.com the Hokies will wear, maroon helmets, orange jerseys, white pants, and black sacks against the Bees. Here's what they'll look like thanks to the magic of Clark's uniform builder.

The combination was chosen by the seniors.

Deon Clarke jumped Josh Trimble on the depth cart. Clarke's now the backup Backer. He's extremely talented and the coaches are very high on his potential. As the season goes on, if he can put on more weight he might be able to see the field more. Clarke weighed in at 214, by comparison Edwards (who if not for his injury would be the starter) came to camp at 237.

Gayle didn't practice again Friday, and neither did Tyrel Wilson. J.R. Collins moved to stud, Marshall was the other first-team end. Wilson's injury wasn't specified. Gayle's still being held out as a precaution because of his ankle.

Preseason Practice: Red and USA Shirts

Shane tweeted out this picture of the players relaxing in their lounge during the team's cookout. Please take a minute to locate, and appreciate Andrew Miller's American Flag shirt.

Other relevant football news from the evening, BeamerBall dropped some roster updates. The projected dress squad including redshirts is: 16 seniors, 12 juniors, 22 sophomores, and 20 freshmen.

Joshua Stanford will dress this season (honoring Ricardo Young by wearing #5). Punters A.J. Hughes, Hunter Windmuller, kicker Brooks Abbott, and long snapper Eddie D'Antuono will also dress. Coleman and Edmunds are both, "expected," to dress along with defenders Desmond Frye, Deon Clark, Donaldven Manning, and Donovan Riley. Dressing doesn't guarantee a player will play, or redshirt. A player can redshirt if he hasn't redshirted and hasn't played.

Preseason Practice: Second (Final) Public Scrimmage

The best way to describe today's scrimmage was uneven. Offense dominated early (even with the second team offense scoring twice on the first team defense), then the defense dominated late.

Offense ran much more out of the I, two tight end one back, and the regular shotgun, but featured several new wrinkles out of each formation. It seams as if the offense is much more focused on running on the interior, with a variety of interior power plays and traps. There were only 3-4 plays of no huddle and pistol, and we saw two veer plays run (as described in yesterday's French on the Bench).

Logan Thomas didn't have an impressive day. He had several nice throws early, but as the scrimmage went on, he seemed to be staring down receivers and not going through his reads. After going 3-and-out on the last goal line series (and having nobody open) Logan threw his helmet on the sidelines.

Corey Fuller continues to be his favorite target, but Fuller was a non factor against the number one D. Marcus Davis had one catch, and got beat by Exum on a jump/fade on the goal line. Dyrell Roberts dropped a punt. Demitri Knowles and Kevin Asante both had several catches with the 1's against the 2's, but Asante missed a block on a screen, getting Roberts killed.

Pistol Stretch Power

Not only can the Hokies use the pistol to run veer, option, and play action, but they can also use the set to run their more traditional one back plays. The pistol allows for a quicker handoff, balanced backfield, and less movement for the quarterback.

On Saturday, we saw Michael Holmes carry the ball on a version of Tech's stretch play from the pistol formation. The same play Darren Evans and Brandon Ore excelled at from the one back set. The play is similar to the old Green Bay power sweep, and requires option blocking, which is determined based on the defensive alignment and is called out by the center before the play. Also, the Hokies can run it with a crack block by the flanker (a down block, often blindsided, on a scraping linebacker by a wide receiver) with the lead pulling lineman taking out the playside corner; or with the wide receiver blocking the corner and the lineman turning up on a safety or back inside on a linebacker. The goal of the play is to create, in the words of Vince Lombardi, "a seal here (on the pursuit) and a seal here (on the outside) and run the play in the alley."

Note: Again, we have used a basic 4-3 instead of a Georgia Tech 3-4, just in case Al Groh get's his game prep from reading blogs instead of watching film.

Pre-Snap

BeerControl's 2012 ACC Road Trip

College football is knocking on our door, so that must mean my annual ACC roadtrip is back. After consulting the all important ACC helmet schedule (pdf) found here, I came up with my travel plans. I need to find a sponsor or quit my job and live off credit.  Pack an Airstream full of beer, funyuns and energy drinks and hit the road for the anti-Mike Hogewood ACC experience.

The Hokies Pistol Veer

Many of you have asked how the Hokie version of the pistol works. Here is a breakdown of one of their basic plays, the Trap Veer.

Pre-Snap

Tight end lines up on the line of scrimmage, and flexes back to the wing back. When the tight end sets, the flanker (right side) flexes up to a set position. Once the flanker is set, the Z back (slot receiver) rocket motion (curved motion with the aiming point being 2 yards behind where the tailback lines up. The quarterback gets the snap when the Z hits the hash mark in his motion.

Post-Snap

SE: Option Stalk/Go Route
Z: Rocket Sweep Fake/Flat-Go
FL: Option Stalk/Backside Post Route
TE "Y": Pulls playside. If the option man goes inside, he goes outside and attempts to hook with playside linebacker. If the option man (playside defensive end) goes upfield, the Y turns inside him and kicks out the weakside backer.

LT: Combo with left guard on playside DT, roll off to middle backer
LG: Combo with left tackle on playside DT. Get head to the play side (most important block on the play).
C: Depending on line call, can pull and lead up inside the DE to the playside, or scoop the backside linebacker.
RG: Scoop the backside defensive tackle.
RT: Scoop the backside defensive end.

Preseason Practice: Talking Defense

Some defensive coaches and players were available to the media tonight. WUVT's Ryan Durham provided audio of the interviews.

Charley Wiles

J.R. Collins won't move inside to tackle against Georgia Tech. Luther Maddy, Hokins Brothers, Kris Harley, Zack McCray will play d-tackle against the Bees. "Four guys [Gayle, Collins, Marshall, Wilson] will be getting all the reps at end."

When asked about managing the dynamics among all the good players along the d-line Wiles responded, "We don't have eight starters right now." Wiles listed Marshall as a starter either inside or out along with Gayle, Collins, Maddy, and the Hopkins brothers, "then we have some backup guys right now ... we could absorb an injury." "We've gotta play ... we gotta go prove it."

The d-line watched last year's Georgia Tech game today (Monday). "We may add a wrinkle here or there, just like they're adding wrinkles to their offense." Before the last two meetings with the Bees, Tech's had extra time to prepare, and the results have been favorable.

Wiles wants to get Gayle healthy, full-speed, and avoid a lingering injury. "He was able to do a little bit [today]". It sounded like he tried to come back too quickly after injuring himself last Wednesday, then tweaking it last Thursday which caused him to miss the scrimmage Saturday.

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