Virginia Tech wrapped up its ninth spring practice on Saturday with a closed scrimmage in Lane Stadium.
— HokiesFB (@HokiesFB) April 8, 2017
There are less than two weeks until the Hokies' spring game. Until then, discussion and takes on the topics de
jour past week.
Tavante Beckett got down to the brass tacks of mike linebacker play. Beckett, who moved from backer to mike this spring, described many of the intricacies and responsibilities of the latter to the media on Tuesday.
ON ADJUSTING FROM FOLLOWING HIS INSTINCTS IN HIGH SCHOOL TO PLAYING DISCIPLINED IN BUD FOSTER'S DEFENSE:
"Understanding what gap fitting is and spilling and giving yourself up for the next man, because he has a better chance at making the tackle than you. It took a while to understand it, but now that I understand it, now I'm at mike and I really like get why I'm doing this, it really makes sense."
ON THE MOST DIFFICULT THING ABOUT THE MIKE POSITION:
"Responsibilities. ... You're really the quarterback of the defense. You got to watch the linemen, you got to know where the receivers at, the formation, the personnel, the play call.
"It's kind of a lot. In 5 to 10 seconds you got to know a lot and call it out. Those (defensive) linemen, they're kind of relying on you to call out the shades. And I never had to call out a shade ever in high school or at backer. I kind of relied on the mike to call out the shades. Now it's like I'm calling out the shades, I'm looking at the receivers, tackles, running back, quarterback you got to look at all that at mike. As tough as it may seem, it's good that it has to be like that, because you know what to expect."
Justin Fuente also dropped knowledge on the mike's role and Beckett's fit.
"He's got some football savvy," Fuente said. "That's the first thing that you notice. Part of playing linebacker is somewhat instinctual. He seems to have those instincts being able to navigate those tight spaces and the line of scrimmage and avoid blocks and find a way to slide in there and make tackles. He's very quick, short area quickness is something that stands out for him. He's made huge improvements, obviously another year in the system and understanding what's going on has helped him. He was a productive player for us last year in a limited role as a true freshman on special teams. He has continued to improve in both roles defense and special teams."
The devil is in the details for Fuente's new deal. Last Monday, Virginia Tech announced a contract extension through 2023 for Justin Fuente. However, Tech buried the lede. While two more years on paper for the Head Hokie certainly offers the guise of stability, the addition of a new recruiting staffer and bump in assistant salary pool is the upfront commitment from the Merryman brass.
— Andy Bitter (@AndyBitterVT) April 7, 2017
Read what Fuente said before the specifics were made public.
"Whit (Babcock) and Desiree (Reed-Francois) came to me it, certainly wasn't something that I was anticipating," Fuente said Tuesday. "We had a good talk about our program, about our coaching staff. I couldn't be more proud of our staff here and the fact that they are all back. I think that speaks volumes. Many, if not all, had opportunities to go somewhere else, and it speaks to Virginia Tech and continuity. I think those are all good things. They approached me at the end-of-the-year meetings, and we had a good conversation about where we are going and what we are doing."
That statement seemingly reflects the allocation of immediate resources.
Former Duke signal caller Thomas Sirk reunites with former Blue Devils offensive coordinator and current East Carolina head coach, Scottie Montgomery.
Beyond blessed to have another year to play the game I love. I will spend my final year at East Carolina University #Pirates
— Thomas Sirk (@tsirk_1) April 7, 2017
The likelihood of Sirk being a pain in Tech's ass come its matchup with East Carolina is high. That deduction is equal parts East-Carolina-¯\_(ツ)_/¯ and Sirk threw for 270 yards, tossed 4 touchdowns, rushed for 109 yards, and led Duke to a 45-43 win over the Hokies in 2015.
Buzz Williams and Tech's men's basketball assistant coaches embarked on a thank you tour.
— Buzz Williams (@TeamCoachBuzz) April 8, 2017
Williams is out recruiting, and out recruiting. The latter effort is brilliant marketing for his program's family culture, and it has to make the players' parents feel extremely important.
Incompetence in Charlottesville. At best, Bronco Mendenhall is mismanaging the hell out of Virginia football. There's a plethora of bungled recruitments coupled with oddly timed departures and an unresolved hazing allegation. UVA's self-reported 32 NCAA violations, its latest blackeye, spurred The Sabre's Kris Wright to declare Mendenhall's honeymoon is over.
On the surface, nothing outside of the hazing lawsuit carries much significance by itself. Bad games happen. Strategy moves backfire. Recruits mistake offers or conditions. Players transfer. Even the recruiting infraction is understandable in the social media world. Per the news release: "The violations involved assistant football coaches, after a brief greeting, engaging with prospects to take a photograph. The action was deemed contact beyond the standard greeting."
In isolation, most of those can be categorized as nothing really. Collectively? Collectively in your first 15 months? Collectively in your first 15 months when you're running a program with five straight losing seasons? Collectively in your first 15 months when you're running a program with five straight losing seasons and nine in the last 11?
Collectively, well, it builds.