Tech Tidbits: Come to Learn about a New Coverage Approach, Stay for an Update on Farley and the QBs

TKP rolls out analysis of the top Hokies football headlines with a look at the team's first open practice.

Justin Fuente overlooks Tech's first open fall practice on Aug. 3. [Mark Umansky]

Once upon a time, I was a member of the ranks of beat reporters in Blacksburg covering the Hokies for our beloved TKP.

I dearly loved the job, so much so that I even stayed connected to the team once I moved up to Northern Virginia, driving down to cover every home game in Frank Beamer's final season: all for you, dear readers.

But as time's gone by, and media access in Blacksburg has tightened, we've decided to take a slightly different approach to covering the team — if we'll all be chasing the same stories with the same limited access, why kill ourselves over having someone in the room?

So I present to you "Tech Tidbits," our new feature condensing the top Tech news into a bite-sized format.

We won't just cover the obvious stuff — when Justin Fuente names a starting quarterback, I doubt many of you will miss that news, after all. Instead, we'll try to provide perspective on everything you need to know to be an informed Tech football fan. We'll primarily focus on the team's media availability each week, since that's when Fuente and company tend to disseminate the most information all at once, but we'll hardly be bound to those gatherings either.

Without further ado, here's the first edition, and feel free to let me know what you think of the new format. We are nothing if not good listeners at TKP.

Caleb Farley's Year is Over Before it Started

Not to start things off on a glum note, but freshman WR/CB Caleb Farley is out for the year with a knee injury, and, surely, no one in Blacksburg is pleased with that development.

The coaching staff praised him as recently as Monday as a potential contributor this season, given the team's dearth of experience at wide receiver, and it's certainly not the way he'd prefer to start his Tech career.

But it's worth putting Farley's absence in context, as well. For as electric as he looked in the spring game, he's just one of a variety of young receivers the team is looking to depend on this season.

Cam Phillips and C.J. Carroll are the only known quantities at the position headed into the year, and it was always a given that the team would need to find a true "number two" to play opposite Phillips. It's not inconceivable that Farley could've helped fill that role — he certainly has size at 6'2", and enrolling early never hurts when it comes to learning the offense — but more experienced hands like Ohio State transfer James Clark, Henri Murphy, Eric Kumah or Phil Patterson all seem like strong contenders to earn reps there as well.

Everyone in that group is still healthy (knock on wood), and Andy Bitter of the Roanoke Times even reported seeing speedy freshman Kalil Pimpleton getting work with the first-team offense in an oh-so-rare open practice session Thursday afternoon.

Farley's absence perhaps might be felt most acutely in the kick return game, where got limited work this spring, though Murphy showed some promise in that department last year.

The staff hardly seems panicked over Farley's loss as of yet, with Fuente telling the media that former WR/current safety Divine Deablo won't be reverting to his old position any time soon (and with the team's roster listing him at 6'3" and 210 pounds after spending some quality time with Ben Hilgart, it would seem that Bud Foster is in no hurry to turn him back over to the offense).

If the Hokies struggle to find a reliable option beyond Phillips this season, the coaches may look back at Farley's injury as quite the "what if?" But the bigger concern for Farley should be ensuring that this setback doesn't derail his promising future in Blacksburg.

A.J. Bush Spent Time at QB1 in Open Practice, Please Don't Sound the Alarms

Fuente is as tight-lipped as coaches come, so we're left fighting over scraps when it comes time to divine just who will take the reins at quarterback this year.

Among those scraps are reports from the brief section of practice open to the media that junior college transfer A.J. Bush kicked off a series of reps as the starting quarterback. Considering that Josh Jackson and Hendon Hooker have been the two names most frequently floated as potential starters, that move has certainly prompted some chatter (not least among those of us who will remain #TeamJackClick for life).

While Jackson and Hooker also reportedly spent some time with the starters, this episode is perhaps as good a reminder as any that Fuente has proven in his brief time at Tech that he'll monkey around with QB reps plenty before things get serious.

Half the reason Jackson is so widely viewed as the favorite to earn the job this season is because Fuente and company decided to insert him into the mix last season, even as Jerod Evans seemed all but guaranteed to be QB1. Call it a motivational tactic to keep Evans on his toes or a true indication of Jackson's ability, but either way, it says something that Fuente would throw a true freshman into the mix with two other veterans in fall camp.

So let this serve as a reminder that Fuente won't rule anyone out of the competition. Perhaps we should be gleaning from this that Bush learned enough in JUCO/Nebraska to have a leg up on newcomers like Jackson and Hooker — more likely than not, it's just evidence that Fuente won't give anyone on the outside much clarity on the QB situation until West Virginia week.

Right Guard Position Battle; Wait, No, Why Did You Stop Reading?

Between quarterback, wide receiver and running back, there are higher profile position battles to cover this fall.

But it's worth considering that the Hokies are bringing back one of the more experienced (and talented) offensive lines in recent memory this season, with right guard looming as the lone spot that seems truly up for grabs right about now.

Tyrell Smith seems to have established himself this spring as the clear favorite to start at right tackle, and there's little doubt who will man the other three positions on the line. That leaves RG, where the coaches seem to be giving both Parker Osterloh and Kyle Chung a shot in the early going.

Braxton Pfaff worked with the first team back in the spring, but taken as a whole, the trio of current RG possibilities represent the players with the most lopsided "words written about them" to "time spent on the field" ratio of any group on the team. At various points throughout the years, all of them have been mentioned as candidates to start at one spot or another, only for an injury or inexperience to derail those hopes.

But this year, it would seem the rubber is about to meet the road. Vance Vice will have to tab one of them as the starter this season, and it's worth keeping an eye on who earns that distinction (and how much, or how little, Vice decides to rotate the others in).

There, you've made it through your vegetables, learning about guard play and such. We'll end with dessert.

Comments

that is one luxurious mane

Hopefully his mom does not make him cut it again

I can imagine no more rewarding a career. And any man who may be asked in this century what he did to make his life worthwhile, I think can respond with a good deal of pride and satisfaction:
“I served in the United States Navy"

KCCO

behold, the mane in motion

Confucius say: When grow lion's mane, TKP become fiery ball of Chi!

Still waiting for him to take Joey Philip's trademark move:

Looks like he is about to CRUSH that helmet with his bare hands.

He and Zach Hoyt could make the All Hair Team

"I mean, you know, fuck them, but good for them." -Too Druck to Funk

Nice write-up, Bush has looked good in the limited SC's we have seen. Last time we had a lefty that could move playing qb it worked out pretty well for us...

I can imagine no more rewarding a career. And any man who may be asked in this century what he did to make his life worthwhile, I think can respond with a good deal of pride and satisfaction:
“I served in the United States Navy"

KCCO

Given the uncertainty on the right side of the OL, I think we may be better off with a righty at QB, all other things being equal.

“You got one guy going boom, one guy going whack, and one guy not getting in the endzone.”
― John Madden (describing VT's offense?)

driving down to cover every home game in Frank Beamer's final season: all for you, dear readers

via GIPHY

Pain is Temporary
Chicks Dig Scars
Glory is Forever
Let's Go Hokies!!

How dare you feed us this nice, level-headed, well-thought-out reporting. We need more hype! Seriously, though, well done. Provided you get enough tidbits to keep this bulleted short form style coming regularly, I like it!

Great write-up! How often can we expect these tid-bits? Is it going to be done weekly as a recap of the week of practice?

I can't be the only guy with kids who thought it...

Warning: this post occasionally contains strong language (which may be unsuitable for children), unusual humor (which may be unsuitable for adults), and advanced mathematics (which may be unsuitable for liberal-arts majors)..

and for good measure:

Warning: this post occasionally contains strong language (which may be unsuitable for children), unusual humor (which may be unsuitable for adults), and advanced mathematics (which may be unsuitable for liberal-arts majors)..

I'm a fan of this. I can only read so many beat reporters typing the same thing so many times from the pressers.

Wet stuff on the red stuff.

Join us in the Key Players Club

This is exactly how I feel. I love this newer, less redundant approach.

"Never half-ass two things. Whole-ass one thing."
-Ron Swanson

"11-0, bro"
-Hunter Carpenter (probably)

so much so that I even stayed connected to the team once I moved up to Northern Virginia, driving down to cover every home game in Frank Beamer's final season: all for you, dear readers.

Riiiiiiiight, and I go to strip clubs because I am concerned with the dancers' welfare.

Come to Blacksburg and see what the Hokie Pokie is really all about

Lol my thoughts exactly.

Ah, the plural possessive, your generosity knows no bounds.

Although, I can attest game day is not nearly enjoyable when you cannot drink your weight in bourbon before kickoff and remain mum and work during the game.

I believe you are self-employed in your journalism career, as long as you remained professional, who would know that you were pouring 2-3 airplane bottles into your Hokies Respect cup of coke?

Come to Blacksburg and see what the Hokie Pokie is really all about

Man has a point.

"How the ass pocket will be used, I do not know. Alls I know is, the ass pocket will be used."
- The BoD

The Bush is on fire
don't cut the Bush
The Bush is growing
Its in the Bush
The Bush can't be taken down

Hokies, Local Soccer, AFC Ajax, Ravens

21st century QBs Undefeated vs UVA:
MV7, MV5, LT3, Jerod Evans, Michael Brewer, Tyrod Taylor, Sean Glennon, and Grant Noel. That's right, UVA. You couldn't beat Grant Noel.

Someone needs to change their name to 'The Hair of Teller'.

Nah

21st century QBs Undefeated vs UVA:
MV7, MV5, LT3, Jerod Evans, Michael Brewer, Tyrod Taylor, Sean Glennon, and Grant Noel. That's right, UVA. You couldn't beat Grant Noel.

What if The Beard of DeChristopher and The Mullet of Teller combined?

If the hair on his face becomes as impressive as that atop his head, then we'll talk

21st century QBs Undefeated vs UVA:
MV7, MV5, LT3, Jerod Evans, Michael Brewer, Tyrod Taylor, Sean Glennon, and Grant Noel. That's right, UVA. You couldn't beat Grant Noel.

I wouldn't be surprised at all if Bush ends up winning the job. He has a higher ceiling physically than Jackson, and is older/more experienced than Hooker as a true freshman. He is definitely an intriguing option if his accuracy and decision-making have improved.

But as time's gone by, and media access in Blacksburg has tightened, we've decided to take a slightly different approach to covering the team — if we'll all be chasing the same stories with the same limited access, why kill ourselves over having someone in the room?

So I present to you "Tech Tidbits," our new feature condensing the top Tech news into a bite-sized format.

So you guys have become the AOL News / Huff Post / Re-direct site?

Is that how this reads?

It does to me.

I should have clarified, do you mean the entire post itself, or the part you excerpted?

More of the philosophy. If you're re-hashing what everyone is writing without actually being there then it's very much akin to a huff post type of site where they "give a quick blurb" on the content and then link to the actual source article.

Umm why do you think AP and Reuters exist? Because not every news agency can have someone on site. This approach instead of just retyping the answers given by coaches and players gives a quick overview of the events, a synopsis so to say.

Wet stuff on the red stuff.

Join us in the Key Players Club

I'm not going to debate. It is how it reads to me.

Joe asked for feedback and I gave it.

They can take it for what its worth and either do something or nothing.

I definitely appreciate the feedback.

Joe - just so you don't think i'm completely negative nancy. My suggestion of how to spend your guys time / our money is to purely focus on the great analyses and insight / depth this site provides. Go truly in depth with WVU past games in preparation for this upcoming starting game. Maybe break-down how Clemson lost to Pitt last year in preparation for our game? Stuff like that. I know you guys already do a lot of this already, but I don't truly care for a TKP summary post of events that as you said we've already seen broken on other sites - that's not where you guys truly make your money / make your mark on the Hokie faithful.

With the way Virginia Tech now conducts its media opportunities, the incentive to actually be there is minimal.

Several years ago Virginia Tech use to provide media availability three times a week during the season: a press conference, offensive players and assistant coaches, and then defensive players and assistant coaches. The press conference was done up podium style, one at a time in front of the entire room, and streamed but the other two media sessions were a free for all and behind closed doors. Reporters would request the players and coaches they'd want to interview beforehand. That yielded more exclusive content, features on local players, and less redundancy.

As it stands now, there is a weekly press conference and one additional day of media. However, both are conducted podium style, and Tech does less to accommodate particular player and coach requests. Furthermore, everything is streamed through various platforms (preseason press conference, day 3 post-practice) and even some transcripts are provided to the media. As such, there are next to no exclusive practice reports during the season, and what you read across the beat is extremely redundant.

If you're re-hashing what everyone is writing

Everyone is rehashing everyone because everyone has access to the same limited amount of information, and moreover Tech's made the conversation accessible to everyone with an internet connection.

However, I do think there is some value to an in-person presence, namely to foster a presence and develop sources.

With all that said, for my money Alex didn't just sling some links with a quick blurb after each. He wrote a tight overview of what's been going on in Blacksburg. That may not be for everyone, but the good thing is Bitter, Barber, Norm, and every other outlet has already published the same old thing.

"Tech Tidbits" is more or less Alex's blog. Expect some of his personality along side his impeccable writing. He will include relevant and interesting videos, tweets, statistics, etc... from outside the beat too. This was TKP's solution to the problem of TKP not (yet) being to afford a full-time staffer, and Tech's dwindling media access.

not in the least

Nope. I love it.

Another white bronco? The first one didn't go too far.

Warning: this post occasionally contains strong language (which may be unsuitable for children), unusual humor (which may be unsuitable for adults), and advanced mathematics (which may be unsuitable for liberal-arts majors)..

I hope this was her response to him coming home from the barber

Come to Blacksburg and see what the Hokie Pokie is really all about

This is a constructive criticism that was handled professionally by all involved. The community development is paying off in spades!

I, for one, did always click on all the links for all the writers who covered VT (Wood, Bitter, TKP), even if the info was redundant, just to give them the ad clicks. But taking a different approach to covering the same availability that everyone gets is a welcome development. That Koma, one of the best reporters I've read here, is the guy doing it is icing on the cake.

COME TO LEARN ABOUT A NEW COVERAGE APPROACH

So am I the only one who thought I was going to get a preview of Bud's newest defensive scheme?

Sometimes we live no particular way but our own

That's exactly what I thought this was.

Same.

"How the ass pocket will be used, I do not know. Alls I know is, the ass pocket will be used."
- The BoD

CLICKBAIT CONFIRMED

but I read it anyway too

No, I *don't* want to go to the SEC. Why do you ask?

We don't love dem Hoos.

I saved it until I wasn't distracted by other things, and then was somewhat disappointed to learn that I wasn't going to get to spend the last hour before lunch on friday learning about the finer points of #DBU.

Still. I like the format, and I think having more frequent posts on the main page (even if they aren't French level dissertations) is a good thing to keep the site fresh and the conversation moving while we anticipate Skutt's hype video and exhaust expletives and derogatives waiting for the couch burning to begin.

I've been drinking.

yep. I was ready to dig in.

Yep. Was mildly disappointed but also relieved.

I'm just surprised I had to get this far in the comments to realize I wasn't the only one who thought this.

'07 Mechanical Engineering

“It’s not a date, where you need to like somebody. It’s a get-after-it session is what it is.”
-Frank Beamer

I love this format. Honestly, I rarely read the long form pieces in their entirety - I typically skim the article then go through the comments. I might reread any passages that are discussed in the comments. This format is much easier to digest, and a lot easier to consume in 5 minutes or less (aka, between meetings at work).

Twitter me

What about during meetings?

Totally agree. Sometimes I'm in the mood to read some really in-depth analysis, but other times I just want to be updated on what's going on with the team.

Beat writers serve an important purpose, but unless they are getting off-the-record info or breaking news, they are pretty much just dictating coach-speak.

The doll's trying to kill me and the toaster's been laughing at me.