Quick Thoughts regarding the Virginia Tech Spring Game

With the Virginia Tech spring game on the horizon, I wanted to share a couple of quick thoughts focused on what I am looking for and hope to see Saturday.

First and foremost, Justin Fuente's declaration that there is an open quarterback competition with quarterbacks possibly going full tilt on Saturday was interesting. One of the things I have noticed in reviewing film for the last handful of games from the 2018 season was how limited the Hokies playbook was in third and long situations. Ryan Willis was, in essence limited to a single read, almost always outside of the hashes, and then he was asked to run. Defenses adjusted, with both Virginia and Cincinnati showing coverage to entice a vertical throw and then rotating a safety or sinking the corner to make such a throw very dangerous. Those defenses regularly loaded up on quarterback draws in third and long, taking away the Willis plan B. In essence, VT was easier to defend in those types of passing situations, and were much more difficult to defend on high quality play action downs. This lead to the Hokies getting lots of yards, but stalling on drives.

Willis bears some responsibility for the lack of trust. Against Miami, Willis was baited with robber coverage to throw into the middle of the field, resulting in a pick six and several other dangerous decisions. He wasn't aided by some of his receivers (Hazelton primarily) unwillingness to go into traffic to make tough catches on inside breaking routes. After the Miami game, I had difficulty finding a single throw between the hashes that didn't come off of some kind of credible run action.

For the Virginia Tech offense to take the big step forward that they will need to take to contend for the Coastal Division, Cornelsen must make the defense defend the entire field on passing downs. And, whoever the quarterback ends up being, they have to protect the football without getting so passive (see Willis in the 4th quarter against UVA until he just didn't have a choice anymore and chucked one up) that the offense becomes easy to defend. Patterson adds a big time physical element as a runner. However, Saturday will give us a glimpse to see if he is actually in the conversation as a credible passer. I don't think you will see that intermediate, 2-3 read passing game on Saturday. But, I will be looking for quick decisions, the correct coverage reads, and accuracy.

Defensively, two things will stand out. First, I want to see crisp execution of force/spill calls. I want to see the alley player in the correct position and make sound tackles. Most of the personnel who had those responsibilities last season will be back in action on Saturday (Floyd, Deablo, Dax, Belmar and Garbutt) with Chamarri Conner taking over at whip. Conner is a key guy to watch. Can he cover and bring speed and sound tackling off the edge?

Cornerback is the other key position. Amari Chatman and JR Walker will get a chance to shine, while the returners get to show if they have shored up weaknesses in their game (Farley-tackling, Watts-getting off blocks, Waller-turning and running with receivers in space.) I think Brion Murray is going to be a surprise on Saturday. For an unheralded guy, I loved his film and I expect him to be in the corner and nickel rotation next season. I hope Saturday rewards that optimism.

Dashawn Crawford is my final must-watch guy for Saturday. With no other immediate physically mature options available to replace Ricky Walker, Crawford has to play at a really high level for Virginia Tech not to be weak down the middle last season. I loved his twitch on film, and had concerns about his ability to maintain his gap fits due to his small stature. With Vance Vice rolling out a bevy of talented young guards (John Harris is going to play somewhere) against the likely VT DT starters, Crawford will get a showcase to show if he can be a starter on the inside.

Comments

With no other immediate physically mature options available to replace Ricky Walker...

Do you not think that Robert Porcher IV is physically mature yet? He's going into his third (r-So) year in the system. Isn't that when the light usually turns on for DL?

If you're not sure if my comment warrants a "/s", it probably does.

1) I don't think he is playing on Saturday, and injuries keep derailing opportunities for progress 2) Three years should be the standard. However, he still looked undersized during his spot duty last season.

Five star get after it 100 percent Juice Key-Playing. MAN

Want to see if the DE's can generate a pass rush and if QBs show proficiency in the zone read...any proficiency at all.

This will depend heavily on the format. If they don't play an actual game, and instead do situational work, I would imagine that the number of drop back passing attempts will be very limited. Don't be shocked if their isn't much rush.

Five star get after it 100 percent Juice Key-Playing. MAN

Anyone one know if Webb will be playing or is he still recovering?

What's
Important
Now

Still recovering I believe

Long time listener...first time poster

I am excited to see if we can play 11 man football on defense. Dax mentioned it in the press conference but it seemed like last year they weren't playing as a unit (himself included). I know inexperience can do that but need to rally to the ball and wrap up instead of going for the hit stick.

Really interested to see how the young corners play as well. Without Thompson and Webb though we wont get the full picture as well as RB without King.

Agreed. At the end of the year, teams were picking on the combo of Dax-Floyd-Garbutt

Five star get after it 100 percent Juice Key-Playing. MAN

If Cornelson is going to get Willis to work throws between the hashes back into his toolbox, what are the best options? I remember Evans throwing crossing routes to Cam Phillips, and I would think the TEs play some role here. Any thoughts on who/what we might see as an indicator the middle is open for business?

I think James Mitchell could be dangerous with the ball in his hands from a TE/Hback role. Unfortunately he had surgery on a broke finger Sunday so will be limited if he plays at all Saturday. He has some big play potential, good size and speed and will be matched up favorably against linebackers and safeties. Certainly a tool we need to utilize if he progresses as reports indicate.

Those crossers would be an option versus man coverage (although Willis needs to be able to look for more than just the single receiver going against the flow.) Against zones, they need someone to step up who can read the coverage and curl up (with the proper leverage) in those gaps in the zone. When you go back and watch some of those games at the end of the year, showing verticals and then both the QB and WR recognizing soft coverage and then having purposeful underthrows or check ups would have done a ton of damage.

Five star get after it 100 percent Juice Key-Playing. MAN

Is there a chance that Quincy wins over the fanbase on Saturday like Ryan Willis won over the fanbase last year?

You put those words together, those are my favorite words, Popeyes and bahama
- Mike Burnup

It depends how he is used. If both guys are dropping back a bunch, Willis will most likely look better. If Quincy breaks off some power runs and steamrolls people, folks will forget about Willis quickly.

At this point, QP is a mystery to all of us.

Five star get after it 100 percent Juice Key-Playing. MAN

I'm not convinced the fan base was won over last year given the intense calls for QP to be handed the starting job this season.

Frank Beamer said it best years ago(talking about cory holt), "He looks an awful lot like Vince Young out there, he has a ways to go to play like Vince Young though."

QP looks the part, but until he shows us he can play the part who knows how good he is.

But...I don't think Cory Holt was an Elite 11 QB...

Let's Go

HOKIES

And to be clear, I wasn't one of the ones anointing QP, I just noted that there was a massive thread about it. I am all for seeing who can earn it on the practice (and playing) field.

didnt think you were.

Partied with Cory Holt the night of my wedding last year down in Orlando (Coincidence) and he is a BIGGGGG Dude.

"And guess what, you've wandered into our school of tuna and we now have a taste of lion." -Allen Gamble, The Other Guys
@Doooougie07

Really hoping we see something special from Rivers or Tisdale that might push Dax inside. I really wanna see him play mike.

"Go Hokies!" - Thomas Jefferson
@HaydenDubya

Tisdale particularly. I think he has a ton of potential

Don't sleep on Artis. He is legit and extremely smart. I would love to see Dax inside, but honestly don't see it happening. I think Artis will challenge Ashby as the year goes on.

I thought Artis had some real good moments and one bad moment that I noticed. I was impressed.

Five star get after it 100 percent Juice Key-Playing. MAN

Based on weather conditions or other factors, the script for Saturday's game is subject to change but is currently slated to feature the following periods after the conclusion of the Red Zone scrimmage as well as a "halftime" intermission.

Two live goal-line periods
Two live "coming out" periods where the offense is backed up at its own end of the field
Two-minute situations (both first-team and second-team units will receive opportunities)
Ball at the 50 with 0:45 remaining – Need a FG to win
Ball at the 50 with 1:00 remaining – Need a TD to win

The squad is then scheduled for multiple periods of open-field scrimmage work with the first, second and third-team units all working against one another.

CFJ Announces Spring Game Format

Fields gonna be wet and maybe a tad muddy from the rain today but I think were a go for the game

Weather should actually be pretty nice. Mentioned it to friend a few days ago and the game itself should be pretty pleasant

Taylor, looking desperately throws it deep..HAS A MAN OPEN DANNY COALE WITH A CATCH ALL THE WAY DOWN TO THE FIVE!!!!....hes still open

I am a little giddy to see John Harris mauling some people.

Five star get after it 100 percent Juice Key-Playing. MAN

French headed to the Spring Game like

Is it basketball season yet?