Alabama's 3-4 Defense: D-Line Basics

Over the course of the summer, I will be examining the matchups and schemes of the Hokies' opponents, and no scheme presents more conundrums and challenges than Nick Saban's NFL-style 3-4 defense. Saban comes from the Bill Parcells/Bill Belichick coaching tree, and brings an NFL-esque attention to detail that is unparalleled in college football. Yes, Alabama has talent, but the true genius of Nick Saban (besides his ability to represent strong the Lollipop Guild) is to ensure that his talent executes the scheme.

Several years ago, Smart Football posted an excerpt from Saban's LSU playbook. While the post has been lost in a sea of bytes, Saban's own words on his defensive philosophy live on (via Pats Propaganda).

[Our] philosophy on first and second down is to stop the run and play good zone pass defense. We will occasionally play man-to-man and blitz in this situation. On third down, we will primarily play man-to-man and mix-in some zone and blitzes. We will rush four or more players versus the pass about ninety-percent of the time.

QB Andrew Ford Commits to Virginia Tech

Pennsylvania quarterback Andrew Ford verbally committed to Virginia Tech this afternoon.

Ford is 6-3, 190-pounds, rated a 4-star by 247Sports, and a 3-star prospect by Rivals.com. I asked French what he thought about Ford and this is what he told me:

Da'Shawn Hand Eliminates the Hokies

Mike Farrell of Rivals.com announced Hand's top-3 this morning.

Throughout the entire recruiting process, Hand has been adamant about Bud Foster being his favorite coach, so most Hokies and recruiting analysts felt extremely good about Virginia Tech's chances to land him. Early on Hand stated he wanted to pursue a degree in engineering, but his academic interests changed not too long ago, and that might be a reason why the Hokies sit on the outside looking in.

Priority Partner Scheduling in the ACC

The negative effect an eight game ACC schedule had on a 14-team league became crystal clear last week when the ACC announced the football rotating crossover opponents through 2024. Eight conference games worked well with 12 teams. Teams in opposite divisions would play each other at least once every 4 years, visit and host each other every 5. Moving forward, the ACC is intent on preserving a primary crossover game as well as rotation in which, "Each ACC school will play all of their rotating crossover opponents twice during the 12-year rotation, once at home and once on the road, but not consecutively."

Andy Bitter put it into context nicely.

I've tweeted the numbers before, but they bear repeating: from now until 2024, the end of this ACC scheduling cycle, Virginia Tech will play Florida State, Clemson and Louisville five times. It will play East Carolina, a non-ACC member, seven times between 2014 and 2020.

Jaylen Bradshaw Commits To Virginia Tech

According to SportsWar's (TSL) Chris Horne, Oscar Smith (Chesapeake) wide receiver Jaylen Bradshaw made it official and verballed to the Hokies this evening.

Bradshaw earned a Virginia Tech offer after camping in Blacksburg last Sunday.

Class of 2014 wide receiver Jaylen Bradshaw landed his first BCS offer on Sunday when the Hokies offered. The 6-1 175 pound wide out with the sub 4.5 speed is highly regarded as one of the best wide outs in the rising senior class locally. Until now, Jaylen held five offers, but the Tech offer has the potential to trump them all. Bradshaw picked up offers from Old Dominion, Campbell, Charlotte, Towson, and UMass this Spring.

Loeffler, Triangles, and the Short Passing Game

Humbled by the response I received after my first article, I couldn't wait to get back to the keyboard and write. Your feedback was awesome, and thanks for making me feel right at home! As promised, I'm going to continue the series on Loeffler's time spent at Auburn. Originally I was going to focus on why he didn't have much success as the Tiger's offensive coordinator, but once it became obvious that most of the article would be about Kiehl Frazier's shortcomings, I decided to change my approach. College athletes are amateurs, usually barely adults, so I'm going to avoid criticizing them too harshly.

Instead of writing an entire article documenting every poor throw of Frazier's year at Auburn, I'm going to focus on the specifics of Loeffler's favorite short passing packages. Let's not focus on the results at Auburn for this article (we already know they were bad), let's focus on whether or not the packaged routes were getting receivers open. If we see evidence that Loeffler can get his playmakers into space we should feel good about his chances for success at Tech.

Short passing game… Who cares?

Why does it matter if Loeffler has a good short game? Why bother throwing it short to begin with? Is it necessary to have a successful short passing game in order to be a good offensive coordinator? Can't you just run the ball rather than throw a five yard pass?

Securing the Edge: TEs in the Blocking Scheme

Last month, I wrote a detailed film review about the inner workings of the o-line's zone blocking scheme. I detailed some of the critical fundamental techniques required for success, including a flat first step towards the sideline, doubling the down defender, and the "four-four technique" that allows a blocker to slide off a double team and get to the next defender. I also attempted to demonstrate how the zone blocking scheme requires critical contributions from the tight ends, H-Backs, and fullbacks in order to account for backside pursuit. Success comes from every player blocking their assigned gap, and maintaining that block to keep the defender moving east-west. Without the blocks from skill position players, it becomes impossible to handle extra defenders cheating up to play the run, as Mason Naumman discussed last week.

The tight end position featured an intense competition this spring. Scot Loeffler utilizes two and three tight end sets with regularity, and in his system, the tight ends must be able to execute three basic blocks:

  • Standard Zone Block
  • Double To Second Level
  • Scoop Block

Zone Block

ACC Baseball Tourney Pool Play Recap

With the 3-2 victory over Georgia Tech, the Hokies have secured themselves a spot in their first ever ACC Championship game! Sweeping the competition in Pool B, Pete Hughes' squad will play for the title on Sunday at 1:00. The game can be watched (on a full size television) on ESPN2.

Pitcher of the Week:

Brad Markey (VT, RHP): 8.1 IP, 6 H, 2 ER, BB, 10 K; Stellar performances by the starting pitchers propelled the Hokies tournament run. Joe Mantiply and Devin Burke each had great outings, but Markey's was one for the ages. Coming just two outs short of a complete game, Markey tied his career high with 10 strikeouts on the night, but had to be pulled after getting into a little trouble in the ninth. The Florida State offense average 6.6 runs per game, but Markey has held them to 4 in 17.1 innings pitched this season.

Position Player of the Week:

Chad Pinder (VT, SS/3B): 6 for 11, 3 HR, 2B, 8 RBI; Probably one of the most obvious choices I've ever had to make for this award, Pinder's talent was on full display this week in Durham. Wednesday's game against UVA showed just how well rounded of a player Pinder is, going 3 for 5 with 2 HR, 6 RBI. He followed up that performance with a 2 for 4 outing on Thursday, and went 1 for 2 with a sacrifice fly and another homer on Friday's pool play finale.

Wednesday: Hokies 10, Cavaliers 1

100 Days Until #BEATBAMA

Right now I'm holding ticket number 74 and the deli is NOW SERVING 55. Be right back, I'm going to grab a Diet Coke, do a few laps around the store, gawk at the people cashing in their beer cans for nickels, and play some scratch-off tickets. 100 days is almost a manageable wait. When the weather cools in October, I always regret hurrying along summer. I enjoy the hell out of golf, sipping cocktails on a rooftop, and BBQs, but they're a small sacrifice to the god of the fall.

In my head, I keep thinking about what Tech needs to do to win, and right now my conclusions are based off the game in 2009. That contest will have very little to do with the outcome on 8/31, but it's fun to play what if. I walked out of The Dome that night thinking the Hokies were in arms reach of Alabama. A couple of fourth quarter stops by the defense, and a few more first downs by the offense and the Maroon and Orange might have preempted The Tide's dynasty.

None of us have forgotten Ryan Williams' 32-yard touchdown run, or his strength to punch it in from the one-yard-line.

ACC Baseball Tournament Preview

Editor's Note: Aidan's been writing and keeping us updated on HokieBall for the second half of the season. Enjoy this ACC Tournament preview he wrote. --Joe

The ACC Baseball Tournament starts today and finishes Sunday, and for the first time since 2010 Tech will be making a postseason appearance. Arguably the best baseball conference in the country, the 8 team field for this weekend's tournament boasts 6 teams ranked in the Baseball America Top 25, promising a great weekend of baseball in Durham.

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