Heading into the spring practice, there were several important personnel questions that the Hokies were hoping to answer. Would any running backs emerge to push incumbent starter Trey Edmunds for playing time? How would new offensive line coach Stacy Searels affect the run blocking scheme? Just how good was Bucky Hodges? Of course, all these questions were secondary to the granddaddy of them all... Who is going to be the starting quarterback?
A major storyline this spring was the transition of Bucky Hodges from quarterback to tight end. Coach Foster raved about Hodges performance last season as the Hokie scout team's version of UNC's Eric Ebron, and the coaching staff awarded Hodges with the Coaches Award (exceptional spring) on Saturday. On this website we've had discussions about the possibilities of everything from three tight end sets, to having a Virginia Tech version of Jimmy Graham creating matchup nightmares on the edge of the defense.
@UVAFBRecruiting has been on Twitter since April 2nd of this year. I'm disappointed in myself that it took me almost a month to find out about it. Among other things, it (re)-tweets the requisite motivational messages from coaches, silly things the long snapper says, local media coverage, and Photoshops. Hilariously bad Photoshops that have been created to, I don't know, relate to high school kids, encourage them to commit to UVa, keep the program relevant? Perhaps high school kids do gravitate towards this sort of thing. If so, I'm as old and out of touch as a 30-year-old should be.
This evening the SEC announced its format for future football schedules. SEC teams will continue to play 8 conference games, 6 against division opponents, 2 against non-division opponents, and one of the latter two will be a permanent annual opponent. More importantly, the league mandated each school to schedule an ACC, Big 12, Big Ten, or Pac-12 opponent on an annual basis. The SEC referred to it as a "strength-of-schedule component".
It's Sunday night, Game of Thrones is on in 5 minutes, and for some reason I'm writing about another conference's scheduling. Why?
Defensive lineman Harry Lewis committed to Virginia Tech this afternoon. Lewis informed Thekeyplay.com's Mark Trible of his decision. The 6-foot-2, 260-pound Hampton, Virginia (Phoebus) product finished with 60 tackles and 11 sacks last season. Lewis is rated as a 3-star prospect by the 247Sports Composite. Cornell Brown was instrumental in securing Lewis' verbal pledge.
Hello. Welcome to the latest edition of "Foe"Rensics. While we spent the fall expanding our knowledge about our opponents, it's only fair to turn our gaze inwards at this time1. On Saturday, we shall watch what happens when the greatest football program on Earth does battle against itself. Today, we shall learn about the greatest university on Earth, Virginia Tech.
It's finally here! After months of wading through the collegiate albatross known as "basketball season", there's finally a football game to be had. Well, kind of. It's the spring game, which is actually an inter-squad scrimmage that has rarely given us much insight as to how Virginia Tech will play four months later.
Not hating on it, though. Whether you use it to scout the footwork of offensive linemen, as an excuse to drink excessively in a tank and cut-off jorts, or anything in between, a fun time will be had by all.
Going into the game, though, we still have some questions about the team. (For the record, the team is all of those blurry maroon and white dots that you see if you happen to leave your tailgate on Saturday.) Here are the five questions that I have been asking myself for the past week going into this glorified scrimmage.
Rejoice, fellow Hokies! We all survived Easter and the required ingestion of jelly beans and chocolate eggs. Tax Day has come and gone (I still have no idea where my tax dollars are going, exactly. I mean, my street looks like something straight out of Beirut, with 47 potholes and nothing but two City Street Department workers with shovels and a whole mess of asphalt), and our reward is (hopefully) a beautiful sunny spring Saturday in Lane Stadium with tens of thousands of our best friends.
Virginia Tech offensive coordinator Scot Loeffler spoke with the media yesterday evening after practice. The following three quotes gave some insight into the role and importance of tight ends in his scheme.
"We've got some older tight ends, we've got some talented tight ends. We've got some guys that can help us on the perimeter that got experience and that's what's got to happen."
"I'm super excited about the tight end position. I'm super excited about that. That room could be really good in my opinion, and they'll be used. They'll be used for sure."
A significant amount of my columns have been devoted to explaining Bud Foster's defensive scheme. I've discussed the basics of the base 4-2-5, detailed the 46 front that was so prevalent at the end of 2012, and highlighted the unique ways that the Hokie secondary defends the pass without dropping 7 defenders into coverage. There is a single constant across each piece I write; Coach Foster keeps me on my toes. During Saturday's scrimmage, Foster rolled out a rarely seen defensive set, a nickel package that featured a three-man defensive front and keeps the Whip on the field.
Felton Davis III didn't catch many passes last year for Highland Springs High School's football team.
He knows the number of grabs - 18. He knows the yardage amount - 466. Of course, he knows the touchdown total - 10.
The 6-foot-3, 180-pound target also understands his abilities can't be defined by statistics alone. He loves another part of his game, a dimension that opened eyes in his recruitment.
The NFL Draft is only a couple weeks away, so I wanted to take a look back at Logan Thomas' career at Virginia Tech. Let's face it, he WAS the offense for a good portion of the time he was in maroon and orange. His flashes of brilliance and combination of size, speed, and arm strength kept the scouts drooling and the fans polarized. Here's a collection of his best plays. Let's all wish him luck, wherever he ends up.
Not having the opportunity to watch either of the first two spring scrimmages, my biggest focus watching Saturday's scrimmage was how the offensive blocking scheme had changed under Coach Searels. Saturday presented two radically different answers to this question. Before the defense came out of the locker room for warmups, Coach Loeffler ran a 3/4 speed walk-through reviewing the offensive playbook with the scout team O serving as defenders. Gates opened at 10:30 AM, and the offense appeared to already have run through a significant amount of playbook. Once I was settled I saw the first team offense use the pistol formation to execute a power series, a counter series off power action, and a play-action series off power action. One principle thing stood out, every play featured at least one offensive lineman pulling and man blocking at the point of attack. This is a radical departure from the zone blocking scheme used last season by Coach Grimes, who only pulled a guard on inverted veer and quarterback counters.
According to Evan Daniels, a basketball recruiting analyst for Scout.com, Virginia Tech and Buzz Williams secured commitments from guard Ahmed Hill and center Satchel Pierce. Both are class of 2014 prospects that had signed with Marquette in November 2013. Both were released from their LOI this past week.
I found the following two quotes from Bud Foster to the media rather telling. The first is from last Thursday, the second is from yesterday.
"We're seeing it all from our offense right now, my credit goes to those guys what they're doing too ... I mean, we're seeing it all. That's going to be good for us as we prepare for a season, but you know obviously we got to catch up right now for everything, but they're making progress."
I was able to watch Virginia Tech scrimmage for the first time on Saturday. By now you've read all of the reviews and looked at the new depth chart (which I promise I'll get to a little later), and have gobbled up every little scrap of football news that you got your hands on. I don't blame you, I did the same thing.
After all my reading and finally seeing this new team in person, I felt that we should talk about what's been happening, and the trends that we are starting to see now over halfway through spring practice.
These are my five major themes of the spring so far, and on Friday I will ask the biggest questions yet to be answered.
The question is no longer if Marshawn "Juice" Williams will contribute this fall, rather now folks are wondering how much will he play. In his Lane Stadium debut two Saturdays ago, Williams raised eyebrows with a stiff arm and powerful, yet shifty, set of moves. Last Saturday in Tech's second open scrimmage, he rushed 13 times for 66 yards. That performance raised expectations.
Frank Beamer had this to say Saturday about his true freshman's afternoon, "I thought he made a couple nice cuts. Planted his foot... And I think it's natural to him. I think that zone read play for him is very natural. He feels an opening and he hits it. You don't teach that a lot. I was impressed with him."
Editor's Note: It seems like there's a good, old-fashioned, quarterback competition happening in Blacksburg. Historyhokie summed up the relevant information very well, so I bumped his thread to the front rather than creating a duplicate post. --Joe
It's still waaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaay early to be bothering with who the starting QB will be next year, with Brewer not getting on campus until the summer, but interesting to see Brenden Motley listed as the No. 1 QB on the HokieSports.com depth chart now.
The way Phoebus Coach Jeremy Blunt tells it, his team needed inspiration. Rival Denbigh High had the ball on their own 10-yard line. Blunt spoke to his team during timeout.
His junior star defensive lineman Harry Lewis made a guarantee.
"I called the timeout and got the guys back in control," Blunt recalls. "Harry looks at me in this tough game and looks me right in the eye. He says, 'I'm gonna make a play, coach.'"
Today was the perfect day in Blacksburg. The weather was beautiful. The spirit of HokieNation was all around Tech's gorgeous campus for the 3.2 Run in Remembrance. The Hokies swept the Hoos in a pair of games on the softball diamond. And to top it all off, there was a football scrimmage. I repeat, it was the perfect day in southwest Virginia. After I finish writing this article I'm going to go downtown and enjoy some of the best happy hours Virginia has to offer. I love this town.
For those of you not lucky enough to be here, no worries, I'm happy to fill you in on what went down in Lane Stadium.