Tech Tidbits: A Silas Surprise at Left Tackle

The Hokies may have a new left tackle, and Charley Wiles dishes on DL depth.

Will Yosh Nijman be making a big move on the line? [Mark Umansky]

Last time I was writing in this space, I complained about how little news had come out of spring practice recently — only rarely has karma responded so swiftly to something I've put down in print.

My concerns about the spring presser format remain the same, but hoo boy was there some news to come out of Tuesday's media availability.

No, nothing on the quarterback front (which, of course, would've been the ultimate irony after I spent a few hundred words whining about it).

But between a major potential shake-up on the offensive line and some much-needed insight on the defensive line, there is plenty to chew on this week.

It comes not a moment too soon, mind you — the spring game is Saturday, if you can somehow believe it's here already. Let's get to it.

Silas Surging?

When I read Saturday that ever-observant TKP contributor French noticed some footage of Silas Dzansi working at left tackle with the first team offense, I was intrigued, but generally didn't think too much of it.

After all, it's generally hard to take too much away from the small snippets of practice the team releases on social media each week. Several coaches have openly praised Dzansi the last few weeks, but I had absolutely zero expectation that would translate into the redshirt freshman starting on the blind side.

Welp, shows you what I know.

Ok, so plainly Justin Fuente meant it when he said last week that Dzansi "turned some heads this season."

By all accounts, I figured Dzansi could, at best, be a surprise contributor at right tackle this year. Vance Vice has hinted that Tyrell Smith had a good shot at the job, but Dzansi could always rotate in as a swing tackle of some sort.
Plainly, the Hokies saw things differently, moving longtime LT starter Yosh Nijman to the right side with this change.

It always seems like a good idea to take spring depth chart changes with a grain of salt, particularly with Vice's tendency to shuffle players along the line. But I don't think we should discount the significance of the team signalling a willingness to move Nijman out of his established spot at left tackle.

At 6'7" and 322 pounds, he always had the size to earn comparisons to NFL-caliber LTs, but Dzansi has clearly impressed enough to overcome that physical advantage.

These days, Dzansi is no shrinking violet either. He was lightly recruited coming out of Woodbridge HS, but plainly the time he spent at Fork Union Military Academy and with Ben Hilgart did him a world of good — he's now listed at 6"5 and 312 pounds, after what seems like quite the year's worth of work.

Even if this may be a bit of a surprise, it seems like very good news indeed for Vice if he can afford to move Nijman to the right side — as French himself put it, "if Dzansi is playing at a high level, Nijman on the right side really makes this line promising."

For an offense with plenty of questions to answer elsewhere, that may be quite meaningful down the road.

Wiles Dishes on DL Depth...or Lack Thereof

In all his many years at Tech, DL coach Charley Wiles has never been afraid of being honest about how his depth chart is shaping up, and Tuesday was no exception.

Chiefly, he confirmed what Fuente and Bud Foster have hinted at (and what most close observers would expect) about how things stand at defensive tackle: Ricky Walker and Vinny Mihota will hold down the top spots, with redshirt sophomore Jarrod Hewitt and redshirt junior Xavier Burke filling out the two-deep.

Hewitt rotated in some last year, and Wiles praised him for getting stronger in the offseason — Burke is a bit more of an unknown quantity. He was recruited as a tight end, then spent some time at Fork Union, and only moved over to DT after the 2016 season. In all, he only played in seven games last year.

Even more of an unknown is just who might step in should Burke not work out, or the team suffer some injuries. In that department, Wiles suggested the answer might not be on campus yet.

The loquacious Goode will arrive this summer, and he's long given interviews hinting that the coaches see a role for him early. But playing defensive tackle in Foster's scheme is a tall order for a true freshman, so we'll have to wait and see if that materializes.

At end, Wiles says the situation is even murkier.

Yikes. Such is the downside of losing Tim Settle to the draft and needing to move Mihota inside.

Luckily, Wiles heaped praise on Belmar's development as of now, but it would certainly be nice to know more about the two-deep at a key position on defense with the spring game a few days away. Fuente and Foster have spoken before about the need for someone among the Zion Debose-Tyjuan Garbutt-Nathan Proctor trio to step up, and clearly this is an indication from Wiles that he hasn't seen that happen just yet.

The team doesn't really have the sort of player arriving this summer who fits the same bill as Goode with the potential to step in right away. This definitely something to monitor in the fall (and the spring game itself, of course.)

New Blood on the Return Team

I've written plenty in the past about how the Hokies will replace Greg Stroman at corner, but I confess I haven't given much thought about who will take over his punt return duties.

Certainly the position gets an outsized amount of attention thanks to the constant invocations of "Beamer Ball," and Stroman leaves some big shoes to fill — he had four career punt return touchdowns, and he's behind only Eddie Royal in career return yardage.

Special teams coordinator James Shibest says he hasn't settled on anyone to take Stroman's place just yet, but he's weighing a few youngsters as options.

Of the guys who haven't arrived yet, Shibest said that Cole Beck (a running back who doubled as a track star) and CB Nadir Thompson were the contenders to watch this fall.

Certainly, Farley will get all the attention, given what he showed last spring. I'd imagine his recovery process has hampered what he's been able to do this year to stand out from the crowd.

Yet I wouldn't sleep on Savoy or Grimsley either, considering the shiftiness they've showed in the open field. Savoy stands to be such an integral part of the offense that it would surprise me if he also saw meaningful time as the punt returner, but it's not as if the team hasn't done that in the past if the player is explosive enough.

I'll conclude the final Tidbits of spring practice by reminding you that DeIuliis has three I's.

Comments

Silas Surprise

Found the fat guy touchdown trick play name.

The Orange and Maroon you see, that's fighting on to victory.

Won't be a surprise once it becomes routine business. More like Silas Scores (again)...

EDIT: Redacted Per Legs.

This seems uncool. How a kid deal with high school coursework feels pretty off limits.

This seems is uncool. How a kid deal with high school coursework feels is pretty off limits.

FTFY

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

seems a little...blurry to me

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)..

Leg for the redaction.

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

Ok...that DE depth is terrifying.

Devil's advocate - is #4 TBD because all 3 are still vying for the spot in a positive way?

Knowing Wiles, probably not. If that were the case, he'd have said something like, "DE #4: whoever of those three is closest to me on the sideline."

Damn. We had so many high level DE recruits in the '17 class. You'd think one of them would have cracked the two deep by now?

Wiles sounds pretty positive about that class of DE's actually. He said Zion took a "really big step" in Saturday's scrimmage. And then there's this

"Wiles: Mentions impressive worthy room growth from Proctor and Garbutt from 210s to 240s, praises growth and maturity of Belmar at DE, feels really good about those 3 and DeBose filling in DE depth #Hokies"
(Supposed to be "weight room" I believe. On mobile so can't embed but here's a link to the tweet)
https://twitter.com/techlunchpaild/status/983780914802102273?s=21

I agree , I don't get all the angst about the DL . I thought Charlie sounded as upbeat as I have remembered . We lost 3 of 4 starters last year Maddy , Barron and Ekanam all 3-4 year starters and we ended up with one of our top DL lines ever . This year we lose 1 starter out of the top 5 and everyone seems to think the sky is falling I just don't see it . I think Belmar and Gaines are poised to have very good years and we have a excellent group of young guys ready to emerge at DE for depth . The Tackle spot with Vinny moving in is way more suited for him and we get depth from Burke and Hewitt with Taylor ,Fullwood and some younger guys in the depth chart. I am not saying we will have a top 5 DL but I think we will be very good there . I also think if things fall right our secondary is going to be very good Hunter emerging , Mook ,AA, , Deablo , Floyd and Watts ect . Our defense will be a very good unit next year just need a couple key guys to stay healthy and have good years .

Coastal 1

I'd like to think that part of the reason why our D line isn't catching fire is that the O line is making them look bad. I can remember back in the later Loeffler days when the talk each spring was how good our defense looked. ....and part of it was that the other side made them look good. Do you ever really know until the fall?

In Bud we trust

I definitely think we have made strides in the OL and will be better there. I like our 2 deep and the youth that they have bought in . This staff has made big strides filling the roster with depth and the players they want we were pretty bad at some spots the last 3-4 years under the last regime but Fu definetly knows what he is doing . I think every position group has been upgraded and even though LB will probably see a little drop off the talent that has been bought in is far greater than what we have seen . We were having years where walkons and or freshman were being plugged in to fill holes and you should be replacing guys with R/sophs and up especially in the lines .

Coastal 1

Well this was tidbit I could have done without.

Wet stuff on the red stuff.

Join us in the Key Players Club

I really hope Webb is for real and ready to play.

The Orange and Maroon you see, that's fighting on to victory.

Yeah, this doesn't give me the warm fuzzies. I really wish he could get through an offseason without some issue.

He isnt injured, its just academic issues, this came from Adonis himself

He is. He's been in a sling for a couple weeks.

I just sit on my couch and b*tch. - HokieChemE2016

by reminding you that DeIuliis has three I's.

I had to put Deluliis in Word and play with font for a while to figure out what was going on here. In my head I had been pronouncing it kind of like delicious this whole time too.

'13 Hokie

If I was Hilgart I'd call him Delilah every time he has a weak day

I just sit on my couch and b*tch. - HokieChemE2016

I'd go with Double Ds or DD. I can't wait to hear Mack Brown mangle his last name though.

"We judge ourselves by our intentions and others by their behavior" Stephen M.R. Covey

“When life knocks you down plan to land on your back, because if you can look up, you can get up, if you fall flat on your face it can kill your spirit” David Wilson

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)..

It would be pretty useful to have a man without fear catching passes across the middle.

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

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

by reminding you that DeIuliis has three I's.

What am I missing here? I see neither three i's (eyes) nor 3 l's (ells)

It's pronounced Dee-yoo-lis (obligatory: "or it's pronounced 'Kevin'"): De-eye-u-ell-eye-eye-s

deiuliis

As an alternative take on VTGM's version, there is a winery that claims their name is pronounced: "de uli iss". I haven't actually heard Drake say it, so can't confirm either way.

The speed we have available at the return position is crazy. Watts, Farley, and Thompson are straight burners and all of them can make guys miss. Hopefully a few of them can find seams and really be patient letting the wall form like Stroman did. With so many guys like this Fuente could get pretty creative with some return formations.

I also think Farley and Thompson could be prime candidates to line up outside on field goals. Farley could get a few blocks with that length and explosiveness.

Certainly, Farley will get all the attention, given what he showed last spring. I'd imagine his recovery process has hampered what he's been able to do this year to stand out from the crowd.

If Caleb's injury was truly one of the catalysts for moving him to corner then I don't see any way they could justify having him doing any return work.

Sometimes I like to leave off the /s just to mess with people.

He says, until Farley takes 3 returns to the house in the first 6 games.

Farley takes 3 6 returns to the house in the first 6 3 games.

I mean, if we're making up inventing the future anyway, we may as well go big, right?

We don't invent the future anymore...

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)..

The line between the "V" and "T" is now inclusive though!

Ive been out of the loop for a while, but didn't Mihota tear his ACL near the end of the season? He's back to tackle after 3 years at end, coming off of an ACL, and we dont have much behind him. Our results from ACL rehab have been mixed. Problem. We have hardly no depth at end either. The second string got killed when they came in last year.

Who are our starting linebackers again? The staff has had a history of always plugging holes and having guys step up but it seems to be getting fewer and fewer every year. This same story of the DL is getting old. We'll probably start off strong and fade as the season goes to where anyone with a pulse will beat us because we'll be too beat up. Luckily FSU is a disaster right now.

Or maybe 95% of teams are going through this and we are actually in good shape. (even though the problem is that other 5% that we want to beat)

Or maybe I was just spoiled by having a line of the Lewis brothers, Chris Ellis, Jason Lallis, Noland Burchette, Darryl Tapp and Jim Davis in the same year. They all made plays.

I've been out of the loop for a while

(reads last paragraph of comment)

Heh, yup. We have a whole bunch of new coaches, we joined the ACC... let's see... what else...

/sssstrolldownmemoryLane

You're the only ones that I can talk to about this, you guys.

Whatever happened to Ol Frank Beamer?

He shows up at some games, takes some pictures, signs some autographs. sells barbecue sauce, drinks milkshakes while his grandchildren weep uncontrollably...

You know. Retirement.

You're the only ones that I can talk to about this, you guys.

Then he goes down south all the time!

Wet stuff on the red stuff.

Join us in the Key Players Club

Is it inappropriate to make a "Phrasing!" joke about Beamer? If not then,

Been waiting for a version of this joke.

Well done, SpiritOfTech. You did the joke justice - but tastefully. Respectfully.

Great job.

You're the only ones that I can talk to about this, you guys.