Tech Tidbits: Media Day Mania

Tech's staff dishes on rankings and some key injuries at the team's annual Media Day.

[Mark Umansky]

There's nothing quite like Virginia Tech Media Day for reporters, a chance to fill up the notebooks and ride out the few football-free days we have left.

By all accounts, Justin Fuente and company didn't break too much news at the event on Sunday, but, at first glance, it seems there are still a few bits and pieces worth noting from the big day at Lane Stadium.

The Hokies Are Ranked, Whether Justin Fuente Likes It Or Not

"Nobody believes in us" may be the most popular trope for any coach to adopt, but "rankings don't matter" is an awful big hit too.

In adopting that sort of motivational tactic, Fuente was certainly more than willing to downplay Tech's early love from his fellow coaches on Sunday — the first coaches' poll has the Hokies sitting at No. 22 in the country, though Fuente says the team managed that distinction without the benefit of his own vote.

Why not? He told reporters the Hokies "still need to earn that recognition." I would submit that every team on any preseason poll is in the same boat, but I understand the sentiment.

But for those of us in the speculation business, the polls and rankings are worth buzzing about, and we got more news in that department Monday, as the first AP poll shows the Hokies sitting at 21st overall.

Fuente's message is certainly valid at its core — I expect I'll have completely forgotten Tech's preseason ranking by the time we reach the end of the season — but it does represent an interesting way to take the temperature of the program's national perception.

The Hokies lost their starting quarterback, a bevy of talented receivers, and two starters on the defensive line, but the national media and coaches around the country still thought enough of Fuente's ability to rebuild large parts of his team on the fly to grace the Hokies with their first preseason top 25 since 2012 (a season that, shall we say, proved the worthlessness of a preseason ranking).

I'd guess that's due to the collective faith in Bud Foster's defense, and Fuente's ability to get an offense humming right away. It may not mean much in the end, but Hokies fans will get to enjoy seeing Tech appear in the ESPN crawl for "top 25 teams" for at least two weeks, which is its own form of reward.

That being said, Jacob Emert of ESPN (and my former colleague at Tech's student newspaper) does note that while the Hokies tend to finish the year ranked after starting it ranked, that doesn't mean they necessarily shoot up the polls by the time the year is out.

Brandon Facyson Healing Up

Bud Foster thinks his longtime starting cornerback "should be ready for the opener," and could get the cast off his injured wrist as soon as this week, a pair of positive news nuggets for Tech fans.

As I've previously discussed in this space, Facyson's absence wouldn't necessarily be devastating for the Hokies given the depth at DB, but it's still encouraging that he should be ready to suit up.

"He's out there doing as much as he possibly can with his limitations, what they put on that, the restrictions that the docs have put on him," Foster said, per Andy Bitter of the Roanoke Times. "But I'm anxious to get him back where he can tackle and be physical and do some things to get his timing back, because that's a big part of playing defense."

Not awesome to hear that Facyson still hasn't been able to participate in full contact yet, but as Brian Mitchell noted previously, it's not as if he's some wide-eyed rookie out there. I'll be very interested in what the coaches think of his health once that cast comes off and he starts hitting again — after all, it's easy to be optimistic before the rubber meets the road and he can start testing out his wrist in football situations.

It's also worth noting that Foster revealed that Devon Hunter's been dealing with a concussion he suffered earlier this month, limiting his ability to get involved too much. If Facyson is a guy that doesn't need much in the way of live reps to get ready for the season, I'd imagine that a freshman like Hunter is in just the opposite sort of situation. Nothing huge, but good to keep an eye on as we watch to see how much the prized recruit can get on the field early.

A WR-Friendly Playbook?

There are plenty of good reasons to worry about Tech's depth at receiver behind Cam Phillips, but Norm Wood of the Daily Press outlines one prime factor working in the favor of all the freshmen vying for playing time out wide; the offense isn't all that complicated for a WR.

As someone who heard plenty of thinly veiled complaints about the complexity of Scot Loeffler's offense from players at all manner of positions, this quote from WR C.J. Carroll struck me as pretty telling.

"I've been in two offenses, but this one compared to (Loeffler's) offense is a lot easier to pick up," Carroll told Wood. "I mean, it's just more basic. You have one term to describe the whole entire play, so ... you don't have to think that much. You can just go out and play...This is what it's supposed to be like – a playbook that's not very big. It's easy."

That's no great surprise to hear, given the pace at which Fuente and Brad Cornelsen like to operate, but it is still interesting to consider as we fret over who among Tech's young receivers might be able to contribute this year.

There are plenty of things that can keep inexperienced WRs off the field — a lack of timing with the starting QB, perhaps, or trouble effectively blocking on the outside — but it's good to know that the sheer complexity of the offense isn't tying anyone up.

"The crux of it was to make it easy enough that young guys could play, because we had to play so many young people," Fuente said, according to Wood. "It does no good to have those guys standing on the bench because they didn't know what to do, so it's pared down pretty well for them. That doesn't mean that they're always playing the right way or doing the right thing, but I think it's pretty straightforward and pretty simple for them."

So while guys like Eric Kumah or Phil Patterson will inevitably have some advantage by dint of their extra year working in Fuente's system, this is perhaps the strongest indication yet that we should expect at least one freshman (or new transfer James Clark) to play a major role this season.

Cornelsen wasn't shy about praising Hezekiah Grimsley a few weeks back, and observers have long speculated Kalil Pimpleton's speed could help him make an instant impact.

In any case, while freshman WRs finding success wasn't unheard of under the old regime — in all fairness to the much-maligned Loeffler, he did play both Phillips and Isaiah Ford pretty much immediately, with great success — I'd fully expect to see some freshmen take plenty of snaps this season.

I'll send you off with ESPN's thoroughly weird comic book-style illustration of the Tech-WVU game. Why is the Hokie Bird so insanely buff? Why does the drawing make it seem as if the pair could be either wrestling or waltzing? We may never know.

Comments

If the pass route tree is so simple/pared down, one HAS to think good defensive coordinators could sniff this out as well. But Fu and Corn typically move the ball, so we shall see

That's something I find interesting about this type of offense. The defense could know what's coming, but if we execute it well enough, it doesn't matter.

Reminds me of the popular story of back when Nebraska linemen would line up and tell the defensive line which direction they were going
to run it — and then proceeded to do just that.

Simple does not necessarily imply that there are only a few variations of what can be done. Loeffler's complicated offense was limiting in my opinion and actually made it easier for DC's to know what to expect from certain formations. It's going to be interesting to see what we get and who we get it from. Football season is upon us.

Play ball!

The route tree may be simple, but the misdirection work in the backfield is what opens up the passing game. Also, a DC might be able to figure it out, but they aren't the ones on the field in real time. Fuente likes to force the defensive players to have to make several decisions quickly on each play and then hopes his QB will take advantage of those choices.

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

So Corn answered this Sunday. What is "simply" about CornFu and WR is what they asked them to do presnap, where they are lining up in different plays etc. He said they want new players to be able to concentrate on the route and the catch.

Wet stuff on the red stuff.

Join us in the Key Players Club

I'm pretty sure the simplicity of the offense is that they can run so many plays out of a few formations. So as mentioned this is where you line and motion, etc. now they just have to focus on what they are doing and not if they are in the correct formation out of 100. Simple doesn't necessarily mean easy.

It's not like the playbook is this.

If you don't want to recruit clowns, don't run a clown show.

"I want to punch people from UVA right in the neck." - Colin Cowherd

All this before my morning coffee.

Run to Win. Pass To Score

Why is the Hokie Bird so insanely buff? Why does the drawing make it seem as if the pair could be either wrestling or waltzing? We may never know.

We already know the ANSWER: #BodyByHilgart
http://www.thekeyplay.com/comment/573009#comment-573009

Let's Go

HOKIES

Guys, about that tweet talking about VT starting the season playing ranked vs. ranked...I was at both of those games. I am NOT going to the WVU game at Fedex. So, we're good.

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

Same.

You're welcome.

Same. We're good!

Go Hokies!

Samesies as well! (PLUS Cincinnati 2012. I know it wasn't the first game of the season, but still)

That team sure did suck last night. They just plain sucked! I've seen teams suck before, but they were the suckiest bunch of sucks that ever sucked.

Having attended several VT and Redskins games at FedEx, I have never witnessed the good guys walk away with a victory. I'm not a superstitious person, just a little-stitious. Therefore, instead of singing with the band post-game, I decided to travel an equidistant in the opposite direction and watch the game on TV instead. We all have to sacrifice sometimes if it's for the good of the team!

Guys, I have never been to a Hokies game at FedEx. I AM going to the WVU game. So, we're double good.

"Facyson is a baller."
-CFB

So, part of the reason I wasn't going was because I thought I had to work Monday. I found out today I don't.

We're still good. I'm still not going.

But damn... I'm an idiot.

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

Rich Rodriguez ran twelve plays his last year at WVU. It's how you disguise what you do.

This is what infuriated me about Lefty, he never tweaked his scheme to fit his players, in CFB you have to (unless you are Bama with another 5 star in the bench).

Thanks again! I'm absolutely loving this format.

Now it makes sense why Hunter was in a green jersey. Everybody R-E-L-A-X

Bud said he really wished Hunter was there for those few practices.

Wet stuff on the red stuff.

Join us in the Key Players Club

I'm sure he does. But it doesn't sound like we have to worry about Hunter missing games.

Nope he looked the part Sunday.

Wet stuff on the red stuff.

Join us in the Key Players Club

Never been to a game at Fedex. Going to this one.

Can we order that comic book cover anywhere?

Right where we need to be!

Where is Lawson?!