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.

2013 Spring Practice: Attention to Detail

A couple of things caught my eye while reading through yesterday's stories from the beat guys. The quote plastered on the picture above is from Logan Thomas talking about Scot Loeffler (via Chris Lang's latest post, New coaches' energy infectious at Tech spring practice). If toughness was the primary thing the coaches were emphasizing this spring, it seems like attention to detail might be their second priority. Here's more from Thomas.

"He said I have a lot of work to do, in certain aspects," Thomas said. "That's what we've been working on as much as we can. You all were out there today. You saw him coaching at me a little bit. That's because he wants me to be perfect. That's not to say I was doing it bad or wrong. But he wants me to do it 100 percent the right way. For me, I love that type of thing. I want to be the best there is. Whatever is going to make me the best I can.

March Madness Power Rankings

I often call March Madness the most wonderful time of the year. It's like Christmas for me. I don't think I'm going out on a limb to say any of this either, as most people's feelings about the tournament range from love to complete "I've sent you twelve of my eyelashes in this letter" obsession.

For most of the first three days we got terrible basketball. I don't mean the standard "the college game is inferior" basketball either. I'm talking ten blindfolded kids playing outside on a windy day bad. Shooting percentages were down, turnovers were up, and if the court they were playing on didn't have an NCAA logo in the middle, no one would have been watching.

And then, just like that Sunday's games single handedly redeemed the weekend. It was awesome. Anyway, as the Sweet Sixteen tips off tonight, here are my power rankings (in reverse order) the past week:

#292. Reggie Johnson: Coming in dead last, I went with this number because it's what Big Reggie's weight is listed as. 292 pounds? Come on now. That's like saying Trey Edmunds ran a 40 in 4.37 seconds. Reggie only played 18 minutes in Miami's win against Illinois, while also suffering an injury that will force him out in tonight's game against Marquette. Hard times out there for a big man.

2013 Spring Practice: Day One

It's football season for the next 4 weeks y'all! These are my thoughts on the reports from Tech's first day of spring ball.

We all clamored behind our keyboards for Trey Edmunds to strap it up last season, and it sounds like he looked beastly at practice today (6-1, 215 lbs). Chris Lang caught up with Shane Beamer.

"He's extremely explosive. You all saw what he ran the 40 in. I saw it with my own eyes," Beamer said. "And to have that strength and that power, it's exciting. And it's intriguing. He's just very raw."

/Drools

It's also important to note the Beamer and Loeffler are working to find their featured back and rotation this spring, "I certainly would like to get a solidified rotation coming out of spring."

Mike Barber noted the early focus on the power running game.

In the brief glimpse the media got, it was obvious Tech is focused on returning to its power-run game. Most of the plays run during the fourth period came out of the I-formation or double-tight end sets.

Be The Bully

"I want this to be the toughest football team we've had here at Virginia Tech" — Frank Beamer

"What I'm worried about is developing the toughest line in the ACC" — Jeff Grimes

Before writing this column, I frequently lamented how Virginia Tech football lost the identity that lead the program's rise to prominence. Hokie football in the Frank Beamer era meant one thing: win or lose Tech's opponent left Lane Stadium bruised and battered. The program revolved around the Lunchpail ethos of outworking other teams on the field and in the weight room while being as physical as possible. Offensively, the scheme was antiquated, but the men who executed it left an impression in the chewed up turf, the sore chests, and backsides of their opponents. On a 3rd-and-3, you had confidence that your offense could get four yards. That is how you win football games.

Brian's and Joe's Greatest Hokies Moments Brackets

A message from Brian:

There are a few things that everyone knows about sports. They're memorable, they're emotional and most importantly they're personal. This bracket is not something that is cut and dry. It's something that makes you think where you were and what you were doing during the moments in question. It is about a son's memory of spending time with his dad. A memory of two boys, 5 and 9, playing football in the yard, arguing over which one gets to be Michael Vick.

That's me, and as you will be able to tell the Hokies hold a very special place in my heart, as they do with all of you. The best part of this thing is not that there will be a definite winner, but that there will never be a unanimous champion, but only multiple champions of the heart.

I just hope that y'all have as much fun filling this thing out as we did.

A message from Joe:

Thanks to everyone for all of the great suggestions! That thread was one helluva trip down memory lane. Narrowing the bracket to 32 moments was difficult, and everyone's suggestions plus the number of up-votes determined and seeded almost the entire field. In my opinion, the most glaring omission was the 2007 ECU game. Both Brian and I agreed, the respective winners of our brackets would finish in second to that emotional pre-game.

ACC Media: Erick Green ACC's Player of the Year

Members of the Atlantic Coast Sports Media Association voted Erick Green as the conference's player of the year. Green received 38 of the 76 votes cast. Miami's Shane Larkin was second with 23 votes and Duke's Mason Plumlee was third with 12 votes. Green is truly the best player on the league's worst team. Here are some of his accomplishments this season:

  • Nation's leading scorer (25.4 ppg, 48.2 fg%)
  • First ACC player to lead the nation in scoring since USC's Grady Wallace (1956-57)
  • ACC's leader in minutes played (36.4 mpg)
  • Virginia Tech's single-season scoring leader (786 points)
  • Fifth most efficient player nationally according to Hollinger (32.51 per)

Green never let up, consistently played hard to the point of exhaustion, and manufactured points. He never seemed to stray from James Johnson's system, and made it a point to include his teammates in the game with smart and timely passes. That's my only knock on Green, I would have be fine with him putting the ball up every time he had it regardless of the shot quality.

From the official HokieSports.com release.

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