In past years the teams have been divided somewhat fair, but not this year. It's straight ones versus twos. I'm extremely happy the starting o-line is on the same team. I've griped before when they've been split up. Now we'll get a truer sense of how they look headed into August. However, it's not the truest sense. While our second team d-line is probably better than some starting units in the ACC, there's no denying that they're a step, albeit a tiny one, behind the starters, particularly at the 4th end and tackle positions. Also, I've heard all spring about quality battles between Painter and Gayle, and I'm disappointed I won't be able to see them go at it firsthand. Personally I prefer starters against starters, backups against backups, because I think it's the highest level of competition.
Before I get into the key issues I will focus on as I attend my first Hokie spring football game this Saturday, I would like to take a moment to also welcome Brian Marcolini to @TheKeyPlay's staff. I have been very impressed with his first post and he will be an excellent addition to the team.
So, after shooting off my mouth all last week about my concerns about the lack of offensive identity in the offense made worse by adding offensive plays that require a new fundamental skill set to be learned by the offensive line, quarterbacks, and running backs, now the Hokies coaching staff has an opportunity to make me drink a big ole glass of shut the hell up this Saturday. Here are some of the key things I will be looking for in the performance this weekend.
1) Offensive Identity
I exepect that if the Hokies extensively use a pistol and spread package, they should showcase the full array of BASE plays out of each set. I have spent some quite moments this week watching YouTube videos of Nevada's pistol offense, and there are a couple of base plays that I feel the Hokies must establish in order to utilize the set in the heat of the ACC schedule.
Editor's Note: Say hello to our newest writer, Brian Marcolini. He's a junior communications student at Tech. In 2010 he nearly got into a fight sticking up for Grant Noel, and he once fist bumped Deron Washington's mom.
Over the past three weeks, Hokie football has gone into full hype mode. As big of a Tech football addict as I am, I have been able to satisfy my addiction with two spring scrimmages, making me even more amped for this weekend's spring game. Unfortunately for most people making a trip to Blacksburg for a ninety-minute inter-squad scrimmage is virtually impossible (but if you actually could convince your significant other of its value... I highly admire you). However, this year's game will be broadcast on ESPN3.
Whether you're in Lane, or watching online, never fear. Here I am to let you know what you missed over the past two weeks, and what developments I'll be watching through a rail/tailgating induced haze on Saturday.
Since its debut this spring, most of us have been intrigued by the Pistol formation. Personally, I'm still haunted by JMU using it as a vessel for their option and power run game during their last trip to Blacksburg. As demonstrated by the Dukes in 2010, it's an extremely effective "modern" formation for many tried and true offensive plays and philosophies.
In Saturday's scrimmage Michael Holmes broke a little counter run out of it for a 60+ yard score. Let's break it down.
LT3 is lined up between center Andrew Miller and Michael Holmes. Dyrell is going to start moving across the formation before the ball is snapped.
Holmes takes a little counter step. At this point, it's extremely hard for the majority of defenders to key where the ball is going. This is more a benefit of the play than the formation. Logan could give the ball to Roberts on the sweep, hand it off to Holmes, or keep it himself.
The threat of Dyrell getting the ball on the sweep is going to hold the backside end (Tyrel Wilson) for an extra second, and prevent him from crashing down the line and making the play.
In the previous frame you can see Nick Becton pull around play side. He smothers Derek DiNardo, the edge is sealed tight.
Editor's note: This post started as a thread in the forum, but I bumped it up. StLHokie, mikey4vt, and tonkaberlin were at the scrimmage, and left a ton of excellent information below. Credit to them, and anyone else who posts after them. If you were at the scrimmage, we want to hear from you in the comments!
The Frankinator continued to praise Holmes, who has all but locked up the starting running back job coming out of spring. "He's learning, but when he gets out there, he's running away from people. People can't catch him. He's a big body. He runs with power. I thought he could cut it loose a little more at the line of scrimmage, but overall, I think you've got to be impressed with Michael Holmes."
So James Johnson is the second assistant coach, and third member of Seth Greenberg's staff to bounce to another school since the beginning of April. Last Friday, UAB announced the hiring of Rob Ehsan and Jeff Wulbrun (former director of basketball operations) as part of Coach Jerod Haase's new staff. Turnover is becoming the trend at Tech. Johnson is the sixth assistant coach in four years to leave the basketball program.
Money was an issue. Johnson will reportedly make an extra 45-large on top of his current salary of $140,000.
One person close to Johnson said this move to Clemson was purely for monetary reasons and that Johnson is expected to receive a $45,000 increase from his current salary of $140,000. That same source said Johnson was elevated to associate head coach last April and given a raise because new Georgia Tech Coach Brian Gregory had expressed interest in hiring him.
$45,000 isn't anything to sneeze at, but it would be disappointing if that's what came between us and retaining Johnson.
Word just came from the Hokies 66-play scrimmage this evening that the Hokies defense got 10 sacks on 66 snaps. And, that was with both James Gayle and JR Collins sitting out of the scrimmage to do classwork. Either the defensive line will be unstoppable this year, or the offensive line may be abysmal. Let's hope it is the former.
Other notes from the beat writers:
Logan Thomas was 9-13 for 70 yards. Michael Holmes lead the running backs, and a little bird told me that Martin Scales may have passed J.C. Coleman on the running back depth chart... Coleman didn't gain a yard on 6 carries.
During spring football, hope "springs" eternal. Hope and expectations for the following football season abound, and any struggles can be dismissed as the learning curve that every college football team must endure as seniors graduate and future NFLers head to the draft.
Let the Countdown begin in earnest. See y'all April 21st.
Source photo: Josh D. Weiss Photography
via Mike Barber
A defense dominate enough to make you feel nervous and insecure about the offense, that's Virginia Tech football in April. The headlines are usually the same this time of year. Avid fans know what the offense is working with right now —four new starters on the o-line, rookie tailbacks, veteran-ish receivers and tight ends— but I think we gloss over what that means. It's going to look ugly now. A flawless closing night performance doesn't come right after casting. There's rehearsal, and boy does this group ever need that. There's a lot of talent on offense, what remains to be seen is if they gel, and that doesn't happen overnight.
Misleading statistic that you've probably heard 100 times: 11 sacks in 85 plays. That was mostly the second- and third-team offense getting worked. It's also important to note the defense has their blitz package in.
Anthony Jennings is a 6-2, 205-pound dual-threat quarterback from Marietta, Georgia. In addition to the Hokies, 14 I-A programs (West Virginia, Iowa, Mississippi St., etc...) have offered Jennings. He hasn't named any favorites, but he's in Blacksburg this weekend for an unofficial visit. The Hokies are looking to take two quarterbacks during the 2013 cycle, and Jennings is high on their list. Marietta head coach Scott Burton was generous enough to talk with me yesterday about Anthony.
How adept is Anthony at reading defenses; seeing coverages and blitzes before the snap?
That is probably the best thing about him, his football acumen. He has a very very high football IQ, and part of that is because he likes the process of what it takes to be a good quarterback. He really enjoys film study, he understands how important it is. He doesn't look at it as a chore, he looks at it as something that is not only necessary, but fun.
So he's the type of kid that's asking for tapes, getting his hands on tapes and really going after it?
As the Hokies start to ramp up spring practice, we outsiders have received trickles of information that have started us down the road of starting to formulate conclusions about the makeup of the 2012 Hokie football team. What are some of mine?
The Hokies held their fifth practice of spring yesterday which concluded with a closed 47 play mini-scrimmage. The Frankinator described it as, "ragged," but not lacking in effort. "I think what you have to really be pleased with is the effort and how we worked against each other and our aggressiveness in full speed work. As long as you have effort, we'll get better and that's the important thing."
Michael Holmes was a shining star of the scrimmage and was singled out by Coach Beamer, "The guy who you kind of notice a couple times is Michael Holmes." "He's got good moves, power and speed. He's a guy you kind of notice."
It sounds like J.C. Coleman is enjoying his fill of HokieClubs from West End, "Almost up to my goal weight of 190. At 183 right now. #hypee !" And the Gentrification has only just begun.
The Frankinator mentioned Ethan Keyserling as, "the guy who has been punting well," and Michael Branthover as, "the better guy at field goal." However, the kicking game is still a work in progress. Keyserling had punts of just 37 and 29 yards in the mini-scrimmage. Branthover had a punt of 33 yards, made and missed field goals of 32 and 37 yard respectively. Conor Goulding missed a 32-yard attempt.
Salem quarterback Bucky Hodges and Briar Woods linebacker Matt Rolin are two highly regarded and recruited players in the 2013 cycle. Each hold numerous division I-A offers and the Hokies are in the mix to potential land both. Hodges visited Blacksburg last weekend and it seems like the 'Burg made an impression on him as he visited practice, talked with players, and faculty.
"It was a good visit. It was probably the best visit I've had up there," said Hodges. "I got to meet a whole bunch of the players. I'm starting to know some of them and I like the feel of things up there."
That's a good thing.
Thomas and back up quarterback Mark Leal spent some time with Hodges, reviewing all things related to quarterbacking in Blacksburg.
"We talked a lot. They're real good dudes. They're really down to earth guys," Bucky said. "Logan told me how it is (to be the quarterback there). You can't really go anywhere without people wanting to take pictures with you. You have to stay to yourself. You have to focus on school and football. It's real easy to get into trouble because everyone's watching you."
The quarterbacks also discussed the offensive system at Tech, which is getting an update this offseason.
Here's a brief summary from yesterday's practice. There's not much substance here because it was pretty routine on the field. The Hokies went out in full pads for the first time this morning at 10:45.
2012 signee Drew Harris took in his first Hokies practice.
And Mike Vick is still helping to recruit kids to Tech. Video is via Hayley Salyer.
If Harris is a healthy 220-225 pounds come August, oh boy, the competition at tailback is going to heat up this summer. Harris, J.C. Coleman and Trey Edmunds were all highly rated running backs from the 2012 recruiting cycle and each one brings something a little different to the table.
Three 2013 targets were also at practice: defensive back Kendall Fuller, offensive lineman Braxton Pfaff, and quarterback Bucky Hodges. Hodges now holds ten offers, and says regarding favorites, "I don't know. I'm wide open right now". While at Tech yesterday he tweeted, "Good visit so far".
On Thursday Virginia Tech announced a fundraiser to support the Wounded Warrior Project.
Head Coach Frank Beamer and the Virginia Tech Football team announced today a fundraiser to support the Wounded Warrior Project, through the sale of camouflage Virginia Tech hats. Hats will be sold for $8 each at the University Bookstore on-campus, the Volume Two Bookstore at University Mall, and the Hokie Stadium Shops in Lane Stadium. Hats can also be purchased online at www.bookstore.vt.edu. The Wounded Warrior Project was created to raise awareness and enlist the public's aid as well as provide direct programs for the needs of injured service members.
The goal is to raise $25,000 for a very good cause. (For what it's worth, I'm buying one for myself and MRSTKP.)
Tech also announced a commemorative helmet to be worn against Bowling Green on Military Appreciation Day.
It doesn't seem like Logan Thomas is really concerned about replacing Wilson, Coale, Boykin, #DRAGERBOMB, or four senior o-linemen. He was doling out compliments and reassurances about the new faces in the huddle.
- "Those guys will be just fine," Thomas said. "They have one of the best coaches out there in coach Newsome. He'll get them right, get their minds right and they'll be ready to go when that time comes. Of course there's going to be some learning, but I think they'll be just fine."
- "We've got some experience out wide in our receiving core, and they'll use their knowledge and let the young guys know."
- "I think he's [Holmes] a lot like Ryan Williams, in comparison," Thomas said. "He's got great lateral movement, and he’s got good quickness straight ahead. He'll make you miss more than he'll run over you."
- "Also, the backfield, they've got me back there, so if they've got questions they can ask me."
I like that reserved swagger, LT3 is confident in his abilities, and only critical of himself, because he knows he can be better.
On Oct 21, 1892 W.E. Anderson, despite playing right tackle, scored the first touchdown for Virginia Agricultural and Mechanical College ever. Coached by Professor Ellison A. Smyth, the VAMC football players beat the St. Albans football team 14-10. These forefathers of Hokie football purchased their own equipment and had a hard time finding enough people to man a team to play on a wheat field carved out by plow. As hard as it was to get started, this was the beginning of something that 120 years later we sit here anticipating the tidbits of news from the first day of spring practice.