Preseason Practice: Injuries and More

Head Athletic Trainer Mike Goforth released an injury update the afternoon. Nick Acree suffered a torn ACL, MCL sprain and a medial meniscus tear in his left knee during Sunday's mini-scrimmage. Shredded. Estimated recovery time is 8 months, so he's done for the season. I'd consider it a success is he's back to practice this spring. It's terrible news for a guy that's bounced around positions and was finally starting to stick at offensive tackle with a chance to crack the two-deep. Best wishes for a speedy recovery.

The screw causing discomfort in Tariq Edwards' knee was removed. He had been slowed since camp opened, and his recovery plateaued at 85% by Edwards' own estimation. He should be back on the field in a week. I still believe it'll be Tyler at Mike, Taylor at backer for Georgia Tech. Regardless of Edwards' health, that might be the best matchup.

Lil' Wang will have less downtime for Call of Duty. His ankle injury is not as serious as first expected. He practiced today, and could practice in Saturday's scrimmage.

Receiver D.J. Coles continues to improve daily and Goforth feels good about his progress and chances to play against Georgia Tech with exactly three weeks to go before the first game.

Coles ran more routes, and practiced more today.

DAVID WANG GIF -- ACHIEVEMENT UNLOCKED +100G

Most of the staff are video game geeks (except maybe BCO and French, they might predate modern gaming), so we were pretty impressed by David Wang's Call of Duty skills. I personally played Modern Warfare 2 with a bunch of other bloggers and struggled most of the way. Anyways, as soon as I saw the following, I alerted Box who concluded a GIF was necessary.

He never disappoints.

Preseason Practice: Media Day and Pads

Tech football held a two-for Saturday, media day followed by the summer's first practice in full pads. Before the Hokies hit the field, the Frankinator addressed the media. By my account, the bullet points were:

  • Regarding backup quarterback Mark Leal, "We got a lot of confidence in that guy."
  • "Our offense works against our defense a lot here in preseason."
  • "Our biggest thing at tailback is figuring out which three, or which four we're going to work with. And get them the reps." At this point, Holmes is the frontrunner.
  • On the possibility of Trey Edmunds moving back to defense, "He's got all he can handle right now, trying to learn tailback."
  • Deon Clarke doing a good job at linebacker.
  • Regarding the significance of Tariq Edwards' injury, "That's a concern. With Tariq you got some good players, good depth at linebacker, without Tariq you're just a little bit short."
  • "Toughness about Logan, it's going to be there. Play smart, but don't change the way a guy plays."

This picture is always my favorite (via HokieSports.com).

White Effect Helmets

These are the helmets that will be worn against Austin Peay on September 8, 2012.

The picture via @vt_football, BeamerBall.com, and @chriskidd42.

I bet I know what McKayla thinks, but how do you guys feel about them?

Preseason Practice: Notes on Notes

The Million Dollar Man Corey Marshall worked with the first team at defensive end, and Zack McCray, "got a lot of reps at tackle during the team period (offensive vs. defense) next to Kris Harley on the second-team unit." French predicted less snaps for J.R. Collins this season, Marshall working with the ones would seem to corroborate that a bit. Because of how deep and versatile the d-line is, we should probably use the phrase, "on the field first," instead of, "starter." There will be a lot of rotation during games, and a lot of personel groupings tailored to the week's opponent.

Of his freshman receivers, Caleb and Stanford, LT3 said they're, "raw ... but they have a chance to be great." Caleb might be a little behind Stanford at this point.

French on the Bench: Defensive Prognosis

Unlike the Hokie offense, the identity of the defense is clear. Attack, control gaps, funnel the ball carrier to where you want him to go, get after the quarterback, and use that pressure and disguised robber coverage to turn the ball over. With 9 returning starters and numerous experienced backups back, Tech fans anticipate that the Virginia Tech defense in 2012 could be one of the best on record. Will the Hokies have a dominant defense? Let's examine how we can expect the Hokies to perform this season.

Defensive Line

The strength of the Hokie defense coming into fall camp is the defensive line. The Hokies return 7 experienced players, except for Zack McCray, all have had some starting experience. James Gayle, JR Collins, Derrick and Antoine Hopkins, and Luther Maddy have all proven themselves as dependable starters. Backup Corey Marshall demonstrated explosive pass rush ability on the inside, while Tyrel Wilson and Zack McCray both stayed in regular rotation with more reps down the stretch of the regular season.

Preseason Practice: Camp Opens

The players practiced in helmets and shorts, so no pads were popping, but there are some things to note. First however, everyone smile for football!

D.J. Coles and Tariq Edwards moved around, "gingerly," and didn't practice much.

"I'm concerned," Beamer said. "When you come out here and you're not able to work full tilt … we've got three weeks here and we'll see where we are. I know Mike Goforth has a plan on how much work they should do and so forth. But they're two quality players who can't do things full tilt right now."

Edwards said his leg is better than expected, however he'd ballpark his health at 85%. Foster was, "discouraged today by his inability to run." Andy Bitter noted, "The pain is no longer in his shin but rather his knee. It's most evident when he makes cuts."

French on the Bench: Pass Coverage Basics

The start of fall practice marks the beginning of the 2012 season. One thing starts, another ends. Today's post on pass coverage completes my overview of Foster's defensive system.

First let's cover some basic, but unique terminology:

Whip It

Whip backer is arguably the most important position of Bud Foster's defense. More often than not, the defensive scheme tries to push ball carrier to the Whip, the free-hitter setup to make the play. Whip also has responsibilities in pass coverage. The position requires a player who can tackle in the open field, is athletic enough to drop back in coverage, and above all else is football smart—a kid Foster can trust. Finding a do-it-all player is no easy task, so it's no surprise Tech has struggled since 2010 to replace Cody Grimm. So far, corner back Kyle Fuller has been the best option at Whip over Jeron Gouveia-Winslow, Alonzo Tweedy, and the recently departed Nick Dew. Fuller's already said he's going to bump down from corner to Whip against Georgia Tech. Going forward, the Hokies need a more permanent solution, and they need Fuller manning down a new-look secondary.

Last Call For Hokie Tracks

This is the last edition of Hokie Tracks for the foreseeable future. Players report Monday, practice begins Tuesday. There will be actual football things to cover (yay!), and more substantive posts focussed on the upcoming season. I liked talking about non-Tech football things during the offseason, I think some of you might have too, if you're one of those people and a story, picture, whatever, catches your eye, share a link to it in the forum to get a discussion going.

This might be an actual copy of the Frankinator's to-do as two of the first three items involve special teams. What stood out to me was Beamer's praise of sophomore Ryan Malleck.

"I think Malleck is the (most complete) guy right now," Beamer said. "Martin has certainly got some toughness to him. Dunn could become that. He could certainly become a threat as a receiver. Now, if he improves his blocking, he could get there. (Duan) Perez-Means and Redman, they've got some opportunities there, too. I think Malleck is kind of the one that's the most complete right now."

French on the Bench: Bud Foster's Gap Defense Part III

French on The Bench continues. Today, a look at some of the pass rush and blitz packages utilized in Bud Foster's Gap Defense

As discussed in "A Look Back at the Hokie Wide Tackle Six Defense" , Virginia Tech rose to defensive dominance running an 8-man front which allowed the Hokies to blitz from multiple angles. A trademark of those pre-2004 defenses was a speedy defensive end lined up significantly wide, outside the shoulder of the last man on the line of scrimmage (tackle or tight end), at a 45 degree angle pointed towards the quarterback. The whip or rover lined up inside to protect the gap. This look allowed the Hokies to use all the linebackers as blitzers, yet they could get significant pressure from the speed rush of elite ends, like Cornell Brown and Corey Moore, while dropping back linebackers. The result was never-ending tackles in the backfield, sacks, and when things were not going so well, forced deep passes.

Perhaps nothing exhibits this attacking 8-man front better than Corey Moore's legendary "Welcome to the Terror-Dome" performance against Clemson.

1:36–1:47

Blue-Chip Cornerback Kendall Fuller Commits to Virginia Tech

It doesn't get any more official than this.

This is according to a SBNation.com report by Bud Elliott.

Kendall Fuller, a top cornerback recruit out of Olney (Md.) Our Lady of Good Counsel High School, committed to the Virginia Tech Hokies over the Clemson Tigers Sunday during the final round of ESPN's Gridiron Kings competition.

Rivals.com rates Fuller as the number one cornerback in the country, top player in Maryland, and third best player nationally. Fuller is Tech's first 5-star commitment since Tyrod Taylor in 2007.

Image via TechSideline.com.

Kendall had previously announced he would hold off on committing until the Army All-American Bowl, played at the end of the year. However, he recently narrowed his choices to Virginia Tech and Clemson, at one time he was seriously considering Michigan. The finalists each recently received an unofficial visit, Tech two weekends ago, Clemson last weekend. Late Friday morning Fuller tweeted he'd be making his decision today.

40 DAYS UNTIL KICKOFF

A few days ago I reached season anticipation level orange. I watched hours of Tech highlight videos and favorite plays on YouTube, and began finalizing my Labor Day Weekend itinerary. Level maroon hits midway through August, when kickoff is less than 20 days away. Then, I'll be whistling Tech Triumph while walking through my building, honking at anyone and everyone on The Beltway with a Tech sticker on their car, and listening to Enter Sandman on repeat at the gym.

via /r/cfb

Some quick news and notes:

Ranking Tech's Last 10 Starting QBs

Editors Note: This was an epic endeavor undertaken by Brian. Enjoy. --Joe

So it's summer. Summer is boring, not a lot for me to talk or write about. You see though, there's a breaking point during the summer when the boredom of being at home/job/internship/whatever becomes greater than the boredom of not having anything to write about.

Well...ladies and gentlemen...I'm here.

What should I write about? Hard news? I'm not credentialed. Insider updates? You see...I don't have many of those people around the team...what're they called again? Oh yeah, SOURCES. Don't really have many of those...and if I did they probably wouldn't have much to say... It's July.

A campy top-10 opinion piece that can possibly stir the pot for a day or two even though there is nothing really of substance in it?

DING DING DING DING DING!

Yep, we have a winner. All of this talk about Logan Thomas' potential greatness and what he means to this team got me thinking...how do the last ten Hokie quarterbacks stack up?

And by stack up, I don't just mean statistically. I'm talking legacy. Leadership. Wins and losses. Amount of success in accordance to the talent around him. All of this should all be factored while comparing two guys from two different eras.

Logan Thomas and Kyle Fuller at ACC Kickoff

Logan Thomas and Kyle Fuller represnted Virginia Tech at ACC Football Kickoff, the conference's preseason media event, in Greensboro, North Carolina Sunday. I didn't attend in person, but I watched the live stream and followed along on Twitter. This is what piqued my interest.

LT3 nonchalantly talking about trucking defenders en route to six. "Put a left shoulder down on somebody." I'm giddy.

Thomas noted the offensive line's improvement over the course of spring practice.

"Throughout the spring, they have gotten better and better every single week," Thomas said. "Every single scrimmage, you could see the difference. The last scrimmage that we had, the defense was sending the house at us. We were picking it up, we were able to get the ball out of my hand quick, picking up big gains. That's what you want to see and that's what we were doing."

Seeing the light come on for those guys, so to speak, gave him a jolt of excitement.

Cody Journell Reinstated

The release from HokieSports.com is to the point.

Virginia Tech Director of Athletics Jim Weaver announced Friday that Cody Journell has been reinstated to the Hokie football program, effective immediately.

"Cody has fulfilled all of the obligations in conjunction with his suspension and is back as an active member of the team," Weaver said.

The redshirt junior from Ripplemead, Va., made 14-of-17 field goals last year and 43-of-44 extra points in his first year as the starting placekicker.

Journell was the lone bright spot of the kicking game last season. No placekicker stood out during spring ball and because of his consistency last season I have to believe he'll eventually regain the starters job. Hopefully he stays out of trouble off the field. I feel a lot better about our chances in close games now.

2014 TE/DE Xavier Burke Commits to Virginia Tech

As reported by Douglas Doughty, Xavier Burke (Brunswick) has committed to the Hokies. That's Tech's 4th commitment for the 2014 cycle. He attended Virginia Tech's one-day camp last Saturday, and had to have made an impression on the coaches. Rivals.com has him listed at 6-3, 247. I'm unable to find a highlight film, or very much useful information.

The Brunswick Times-Gazette wrote about him last August, "Burke was one of the top tight ends in the Southside District last season and has soft hands to go along with his 6-4 height." It also looks like he played a little quarterback last season, and was an All-Region I Honorable Mention.

2014 WR/DB Javon Harrison Commits to Virginia Tech

As reported by Katherine Smith, Javon (Lakeland, Florida) joins Vincent Mihota (DE) Marshawn Williams (RB) as Tech's third commitment for the class of 2014 . In case you forget, the year is 2012. According to Smith's report, Javon was in Blacksburg last Saturday and attended Tech's one-day camp.

"I [HS coach Irving Strickland] talked with him and he just said he fell in love with the town, the coaches and what they have to offer academically,'' Strickland said. "I asked him if he was sure and he said after talking with him mom and his brothers, he knew it was the right place for him."

Harrison had been a standout receiver for the Red Devils, and one of the tops in Polk County, but he wants to play cornerback in college. Strickland said Virginia Tech provides an opportunity for Harrison to play that position and possibly earn some early playing time.

"Wherever he plays, they are getting a good one,'' Strickland said.

Javon also held a Michigan offer.

French on the Bench: Bud Foster's Gap Defense Part II

The Gap Defense: When Gaps Go Wrong.

Thanks everyone for the great comments and questions on my first edition of "French on the Bench". Many of you asked what causes the defense to be ineffective against different teams, and it is very difficult to address all the reasons because of the different styles of offense. So, I will take a moment to look at the new Clemson offense and try to explain why the Hokies struggled against it last year.

Clemson runs the Urban Meyer spread, a version of the old Single Wing. The Single Wing is predicated on motion, misdirection, play-action, and forcing a defense to commit, and then going somewhere else with the football. It uses a very small number of plays, but each play serves as a direct counter to the others.

Clemson's base bread and butter play for their offense is the buck sweep. It looks similar to an old power sweep, but it is meant to be a kick out play that creates a seam off the tackle. The quarterback bootlegs off the hand-off, which serves as a counter action that must be accounted for (as Tech defended it with the stud end).

1:36:52–1:37:16

2012 Virginia Tech Football Trailer

Leading up to kickoff each season friend of the site BilldozerVT chops, compiles, and scores a trailer video. Like those before it, this year's is absolutely fantastic. Also, this season Bill's going to help out a bit around here and provide us video for to enhance our pre and postgame analysis. Thank you for all of your hard work Bill!

The Hokies kickoff in 48 days.

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