The Week That Was: Signing Day Craziness

This has been a big week for me.

First off I had a promising interview with a potential future employer. That was cool and all, but Sunday probably took the week. No, I take that back. It DEFINITELY took the week. Why, you ask? Well, the short answer is that I may have a new mortal enemy.

Let me break it down for you in three steps:

  1. The Super Bowl happened: This one is pretty obvious. Biggest game of the year.
  2. CBS broadcast the Super Bowl: Again, pretty obvious. But breaking it down even more, Joe hates CBS and its overhyped shows like Two Broke Girls Who Work For NCIS Hawaii 5.0. Understandable.
  3. I had to make a sarcastic Tweet about Joe's hatred of CBS. See that sarcastic comment below? Well let me run it back again.

Maryland Preview

The Terrapins make their return trip to Blacksburg tonight. The Hokies lost the first meeting in College Park 71-94.

Maryland is 4-5 in conference play, suffering their last 4 losses on the road. This bodes well for the Hokies, who are currently on a 4 game losing skid. Might tonight be the night the team is finally rewarded for the increased effort given as of late? If they want to stop Maryland, they'll have to defend the 3-point line better. Maryland sunk ten 3-pointers the last time out, 3.5 more than the Hokies are allowing per game this season.

Maryland ranks first nationally in rounds (42.6), and second in rebound margin (11.1) with a front court including Alex Len (12.7 PPG, 8.2 REB), a future lottery pick. I expect the Hokies to do the same thing they did last time in the front court and start both Cadarian Raines and Joey van Zegeren. Tech did a great job on the boards then, but if Maryland switches to zone be prepared for Tech to get beat down low.

Signing Day Recap


I wanted to go in-state, so it was between Tech and UVa. I just couldn't see myself waking up every morning at UVa. [...]'13 Signee David Prince

National Signing Day was relatively drama free for Virginia Tech. No commitments flipped, and only one thing did not go according to plan: tailback Drew Harris didn't sign. Mike Barber provided an update to his situation.

Despite performing well academically at Fork Union Military Academy this semester, Harris still has a multiple NCAA clearing house issues relating back to his high school transcript, a source said Wednesday, national signing day.

The source said the issues don't relate to anything at Virginia Tech or Fork Union, but said Harris won't be part of the class the Hokies announce today.

It's possible Harris will have to enroll at a junior college and play there to become eligible.

Harris is obviously someone who can help the team, but whatever circumstances he is dealing with seem like a mess, and now I'm taking a wait and see approach.

2013 Signee Profile: Cequan Jefferson

With Antone Exum's health now a concern, Virginia Tech suddenly has a hole in the secondary that might provide an opportunity for a young player to have immediate impact next season. Kendall Fuller seems best suited to fill in at Exum's spot at boundary, but third corner remains a question, especially with Detrick Bonner desperately needed at free safety. While Donaldven Manning, Donovan Riley, and Davon Tookes have experience, recruiting expert J.C. Shurburtt seems to think that Cequan Jefferson could fill that role.

Initially, Cequan Jefferson was a bit of an unknown quantity when he committed to Virginia Tech (his only offer) early in the 2013 recruiting process. After reading Shurburtt's comments, I decided to take a look for myself. What I found was an incredibly polished defensive back, whose highlights demonstrate the ability to play all three critical techniques for a Virginia Tech cornerback (off-man, inside out press, off-robber) right now. He also has incredibly fluid hips that allow him to be beaten and recover, and a natural aggressive ball-hawking ability that lends itself to playing disguised zones from the field corner position, read the quarterback, and then leave his man to make a play on the football.

2013 Signee Profile: Bucky Hodges

Editor's Note: In order to bring you the best coverage and analysis, we're not just going to post a capsule for every prospect that signs today. Instead, French is going to watch all the film available for each signee, and he is going to write a more comprehensive film review. This is as time intensive as it is in-depth, so expect these posted periodically as spring practice approaches. --Joe

With the hiring of Scot Loeffler, Bucky Hodges would appear to be the quarterback prospect with the best chance to succeed Logan Thomas. Hodges is a prototypical Virginia Tech quarterback. He isn't a prototypical pro-style drop back passer, nor is he a system oriented spread-option QB. Instead, he an athletic quarterback who wants to do most of his damage in the pocket, but is athletic enough to extend plays and still make throws downfield.

Hodges is a physically impressive 6-5, 220-pounds. When I watched film of his play as a junior, I had immediate concerns about his arm strength.

Taking Stock of the Offense

I listened to new offensive coordinator Scot Loeffler talk about his offense, then immediately thought about the pieces he'd have to work with.

A summary of his own words of what his offense is all about.

  • Protect and run the Football
  • Balanced Attack
  • "Very multiple", "Big formation movement team"
  • Multiple Personnel Groups
  • Quarterback will run the ball

That sounds a lot like Stinespring's philosophy, even though both he and Loeffler may have tried to accomplish the same goals different ways. Either way, all along Tech's been recruiting players that fit to a multiple, pro-style attack that features a running quarterback, so let's look who is gone, back, and might play a bigger role on offense.

They Gone

These guys saw the field in 2012, but won't be back in 2013. My list is in order of most to least significant loss, but not necessarily decreasing by any real order of magnitude.

VT 60, UNC 72

Welp, that was an extremely frustrating loss. Another hot start and big lead that slowly dwindled away. You can't say the team didn't give effort, though. At no point in the game was I like, "They're not even trying." That's impressive for a noon tipoff on the road. Hopefully it wasn't just because we were playing up to Carolina, and we give that effort for the rest of the year.

Quick thoughts: Everyone is talking about how good our defense was. Honestly, I thought it was pretty similar to previous games, guys were a little more active but UNC flat out missed shots. They had plenty of wide open looks but couldn't get them to fall. I thought this was pretty interesting:

14th Ranked 'Canes Come to Cassell

After last weekend's loss at Clemson, Virginia Tech fell to 2-4 in ACC play. Unfortunately, the schedule isn't getting any easier. The Hokies take on #14 Miami at 9 tonight. If you hadn't already heard, the Hurricanes are pretty darn good. It's their first time being in the top-15 since 2002, and a talented veteran roster has helped them get there.

The Hurricanes have an experienced team with six seniors on the roster, including four starters. That savvy, and the team chemistry that has formed over the years, is a big reason for UM's success. But there is more to it than that, said North Carolina coach Roy Williams, whose team lost at home 68-59 to the Canes earlier this month. UM's talent, he said, is underrated.

"Having veteran players is a tremendous asset, and some people say that's the only reason UM is winning, but the truth is, they're pretty doggone good," Williams said Monday on a teleconference. "You've got [Shane] Larkin and [Durand] Scott in the backcourt, [Kenny] Kadji presents such matchup problems. You go down the line, and they've got all the parts. [Julian] Gamble makes fewer mistakes, and I'm just looking at it from a distance, than almost any of those quote role players. He dunks the ball every chance he gets, plays great defense. ... Bottom line, he's pretty doggone good."

The Week That Was: Antone Exum

Everyone has those moments when they see something on Twitter, but it's so terrible that they hang in a highly tense balance between not believing it and not wanting to believe it.

One of the best examples of this individual sway of emotions was a story told to me by my friend Kevin. On the night former Oklahoma City Thunder shooting guard James Harden was traded, Kevin—a die-hard OKC fan—was at a bar in downtown Blacksburg. After he saw it on Twitter he immediately bought a stronger drink simply out of disbelief. Then after seeing the story break on the bottom crawl of ESPN, he set that (barely touched) drink down and immediately walked home to sit in silence.

He just couldn't handle being around people.

That is exactly how I felt when I saw the news that Antone Exum tore his ACL. I just sat on a couch and stared at my computer screen, hoping it was some sort of hoax or poorly sourced report. It just couldn't be. The guy that had adopted the previously vacant "vocal team leader" role just blew out his knee playing pick up hoops? It simply sucked too much to be true.

Is there any player not named Te'o that has gone through a larger roller coaster than Exum? Over the first four weeks of the season no one was more scrutinized and criticized than him. Critiques of his play ranged from mild displeasure to absolute vitriol, all coming to a head after an absolutely BRUTAL game against Cincinnati (2 face masks, 2 pass interferences).

Three-Point Analysis

Here's something I don't do too often around here: basketball statistics. After the Clemson game I followed up on a hunch that I've had since the middle of the season, teams shot much better than their season average against us from downtown.

3FGVT% - 3FGS% is the money column. It's the difference between a team's three-point percentage against Virginia Tech and its season average. A positive number indicates a team shot better from behind the arc against Tech than they did over the course of the season (through 1/27).

Antone Exum tore his Right ACL and Lateral Meniscus

This evening Virginia Tech confirmed a rumor that had been circulating over the weekend.

Virginia Tech did not state how he injured his knee, or when it happened, but the rumor was it happened playing a game of basketball yesterday at McComas.

This is just devastating news for a kid who worked "his nuts off" last fall. In my opinion he was the team's most improved player, and he finished the season in the discussion as its top defender. Exum announced on January 9th that he would return for his senior season with goals of, "working towards ACC and National titles!".

Hokies Host 'Hoos in Hoops

UVa comes into tonight's matchup at 12-5 overall, and 2-2 in the ACC. That sounds pretty good, right? Well, they've beaten some alright teams, but lost to some bad teams as well. Their strength of schedule ranks 255th (RPI) in the nation, while Tech's 11-6 record ranks 129th. That's a pretty big difference if you ask me. Although the Pomeroy rankings have Virginia 37th and Virginia Tech 152nd.

The Cavaliers have a lot of confidence going into tonight's game after holding the Seminoles to 36 points. Not only did they play well defensively, but they shot 48.9% from the field and converted 7 of their 13 3-pointers.

The Week That Was: The Les Miles Zone

After weeks and weeks of speculation, the new offensive staff was finalized and officially announced. On Friday, Scot Loeffler, Jeff Grimes and Aaron Moorehead will ride into Blacksburg like white knights on stallions.

Other than that, it's been a pretty quiet week. I mean, Shane Beamer did troll some people on Twitter, leading me to embark in a twenty-minute mental exercise as to what would happen if Bud Foster had an account. Could you imagine? Some UVA bro tries to troll Foster’s defense on Twitter, which is then followed by Foster’s threats of "total, soul crushing annihilation" while motivating Jack Tyler and Antone Exum to send a season-long message.

Speaking of Exum...

That was at 3 A.M. Monday morning. You know where normal people were at 3 A.M. Monday morning? Sleeping...or sleeping off a night at Big Al's. This man is insane, in such a good way.

That may have been all the news in Blacksburg, but lucky for us the sports world got weird (and awesome) over the past week.

Loeffler, Grimes, and the Future of the Running Game

The staple of Virginia Tech's offense in the Frank Beamer era for over two decades was a bruising running game. While we screamed about Logan Thomas's inaccuracy, the lack of blocking, and playmaking by wide receivers, the complete inability of Virginia Tech to establish a running game was the biggest impediment to winning football games. Virginia Tech had moderate success running off tackle power from the I formation, occasionally got the read option going from the spread, and once in blue moon they got 3 yards on a toss sweep. But, more often than not, the Hokie offensive line went east west, and the running backs went nowhere. The end results were a confused Frank Beamer and 3rd-and-12s.

If the Hokies want to return to dominance in 2013, the first task for new offensive coordinator Scot Loeffler and offensive line coach Jeff Grimes will be to establish a cohesive concept for running the football that Virginia Tech lacked last season, and then instill the attitude and fundamentals necessary to dominate using such a philosophy.

The Philosophy

VT 66, WF 65

Summary: With three minutes remaining, the game was tied at 58. How would the Hokies finish? Would we close like last year's team and suffer another close loss? Would we start a new trend of close wins? These thoughts rushed through my head as Wake Forest took two free throws.

With two minutes remaining, Travis McKie drained a three. Cassell went silent as the Demon Deacons called a timeout. How would we respond? Did we have the confidence to come back? That was quickly answered when Jarell Eddie shot from deep without even thinking. Swish. The Hokies were there to play.

The Week That Was: Scot Loeffler and Logan Thomas

Well, the day has finally come. As CBS Sports' Bruce Feldman reported, the Frankinator has hired Scot Loeffler to be his new offensive coordinator. Yep, that Scot Loeffler. The one handed the dumpster fire at Auburn. The one who threw a TOTAL of 198 passes at Temple in 2011 (for comparison, Logan Thomas threw 429 this season).

My three thoughts on the hiring immediately after it happened:

  • Gulp.
  • What does this mean in terms of Thomas' professional decision?
  • How in the hell does Feldman know so many people, on so many different staffs? Was it because he wrote a book with Mike Leach, and now all universities have a fear of being boarded and pirated? Yeah, that must be it. If it happened to Craig James, it could happen to you.

But, after I did my research I started to feel more confident about his hiring.

Logan Thomas Will Return for His Senior Season

Logan Thomas announced today on ESPN College Football Live that he will return for his senior season. Woo! And I need to celebrate for a minute with a GIF.

In October, Thomas had been adamant in his plans to play his senior year in Blacksburg. "I've always told everybody that I'm planning on coming back for my last one," he said.

However, after the Russell Athletic Bowl, he had this to say.

"I can't tell you now," Thomas said when asked whether he would return to Virginia Tech for his senior season. "I have a big decision in front of me either way it goes.

Report: Scot Loeffler is Virginia Tech's new Offensive Coordinator

As first reported by CBSSports' Bruce Feldman, Scot Loeffler has accepted an offer to become offensive coordinator at Virginia Tech.

David Teel reported last Friday (January 11th) that Loeffler was a candidate. On Monday, Mark Giannotto reported Loeffler and former Auburn offensive line coach Jeff Grimes were in Blacksburg meeting with Frank Beamer.

Last season Loeffler began as offensive coordinator at Auburn, and ended up going down with Chizik's sinking ship. The Tigers were ranked 115th nationally in total offense (305.00 yards per game), and 112th in scoring offense (18.67 points per game). These complaints by Auburn fans seem eerily familiar.

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