A humble group of Hokie bloggers spent last week discussing Virginia Tech football to coincide with the beginning of fall practice. We tackled issues facing the Hokies going into one of the most anticipated seasons in Tech history. It was a great exercise and we got diverse answers from the group. Hopefully we can do it again in August prior to kickoff. Below is a overview of the roundtable as well as links to individual answers.
Beer Control Offense
(BCO | HokieJayBee)
College Game Balls
The North End Zone
(Q1 | Q2 | Q3 | Q4 | Q5)
(Q1 | Q2 | Q3 | Q4 | Q5)
Virginia Tech Fan
1. From reader Riggs: "Are we really going to be that good next year? I just don't see us being a top 10 team given last season's offensive output. Tell me that we're overhauling the offense, or we're adding new packages. Give me some hope."
Our panelists agree that Tech is a Top 10 team with Top 5 talent. However, most of them believe the offense will hold the team back. Specifically the offensive coordinator will hold the team back.
From College Game Balls:
...With that being said we aren’t going undefeated and more than likely will shit the bed against Alabama and 1-2 ACC teams. Why because unfortunately we aren’t overhauling our offense and even more importantly Bryan Stinespring is still calling the plays. In my inebriated state I actually starting to think our offensive scheme works, we just call really dumb plays at the worst times. Like QB sneaking out of the shotgun on 3rd and goal from the one. We always seem to shoot ourselves in the foot.
However, there are a couple of reasons to believe this team can still do something special. VT Fan notes that most of our tough games are at home or on a neutral site. The toughest road test on paper will be the second trip to Atlanta to face the Yellow Jackets.
Another reason is the parallels between the 2004 team and this squad, specifically regarding the quarterback. From The North End Zone:
The last time we went from having two quarterbacks to just one, we went 10-2, won the ACC, and lost by 3 to an undefeated Auburn team in the Sugar Bowl. This time won't involve weed, underage girls, or traffic violations, but I think the mindset is still the same.
I don't know that we will be a top 5 team. I just think that this year is going to be our best shot in a while.
However, after Tyrod, the quarterback situation is murky for the Hokies. Which leads us to Q2.
2. From Beer Control Offense: "Are you concerned about the lack of depth at quarterback? How many significant snaps do you think VT's back up quarterback will get?"
Those who are fretting over the QB situation are, to use their own words, scared shitless. BCO will have the bourbon at the ready in 2009:
Whoever (the backup) is, keep your arm loose, 4-5 games even if for a play or 2, he'll be needed. We could see a lot of Wild Turkey those games, on the field and in section 18 beside the BCO as he screams "GOD NO!!" I think there will be at least 1 game where Tyrod does not start or gets knocked out early, extended stay in the infirmary will kiss preseason expectations goodbye.
In order to mitigate the injuries to Tyrod, CGB suggests running the Wild Turkey formation more often to give Tyrod time to rest each game, instead of using it as a gimmick formation. If I remember correctly, Florida did this when Tebow was a freshman in short-yardage and goalline situations. And I'm pretty sure the Gators won it all that year.
Only four of the responders were not afraid of Tech's lack of QB depth. Those include myself, CGally from The North End Zone, HokieJayBee from BCO and MadJay from TSF.
HJB takes the Alfred E. Neuman approach because if Tyrod goes down, everything will go to hell anyway. MadJay thinks the offense will run the same scheme and put up the same production with or without Tyrod. Myself and CGally point to the fact that the QB usually doesn't determine whether or not we win games.
The way we typically win games is through Bud Foster's defense, which has its own issues going into the spring.
3. What position do you think is most important to the Hokies on the defensive side of the ball this spring? Are there any young players who will step up during spring on that side of the ball?
Despite the lack of depth on the defensive line, our noble bloggeratti was split nearly 50-50 between the linebackers and the cornerbacks. What it comes down to is the Hokies have more holes to fill at linebacker, but a bigger hole to fill at cornerback.
Tech lost two one-year starters at LB, but return Cam Martin as a third-year starter. The players stepping up at LB are young and inexperienced, but are supposed to be the most talented group of youngsters we've had at LB. From VT Fan:
You would think linebacker - Mike and Backer - key positions that are being completely turned over to new starters, mostly Fr and So players. Barquell Rivers and Jake Johnson get good reviews and are penciled in as starters, but behind them are Bruce Taylor and Quillie Odom who were highly touted recruits and I’m anxious to see these guys. I especially think Bruce Taylor, who we thought was headed for the D-line, is a guy to watch.
Those concerned with the cornerbacks are worried because of how important Macho Harris was to last year's D. Not only was he the best player on that side of the ball, he was also the team's emotional leader.
Stephan Virgil will start at boundary corner for the first time this year while SOMEONE will eventually step up and take the field side. Who that someone will be is up for debate. While I would rather see someone other than Rashad Carmichael there, The Northerner at The North End Zone is a fan of his:
He’s the oldest cornerback we have since Macho left, and we have always been relatively strong in the cornerback position. So I think he will have to step up, and you can bet that Foster is giving this guy tons of tape on how the position is played. I have faith in our defensive coaches that this position will not be an afterthought.
I liked the position Where's The Ice from TSF took. He isn't concerned with a certain position on the field. He's concerned about who will be the leader of the D on and off the field:
Harris' personality and gusto for the game made him naturally suited to that role, and his fellow teammates viewed him that way. Every squad needs an on the field leader, and out of training camp somebody needs to assertively take that role in such a manner that the other 10 players on the squad respect him and recognize him in that mold.
However, I personally disagree that someone will come into that role 1/4 through the season. That will be way to late. Hell, even August will be too late for that. Tech's leader on the defensive side of the ball has to step up during spring practice and over the summer.
4. What change would you make to college football's spring football system?
A few responders want to see spring football become summer football. This is for a couple of reasons. First, as CGB points out, it's too disjointed from the August practices. Also, moving it to summer would give us something to do during those months. Pitting it up against March Madness drowns it out with some schools (like UNC).
MadJay from TSF agrees with me that teams should be allowed to scrimmage other schools. And CGally from TNEZ had the most unique response with regards to how the maroon and white teams are chosen:
Additionally, I think they should pick teams like in gym class. I would love to see Glennon's face as he was passed over again and again.
5. From College Game Balls: "What kind of music do you think the team is bumping in the locker room? And is Beamer getting down? I know the '99 team was big into Method Man and Dr. Dre."
HokieJayBee and CGB say the team is probably listening to Lil' Wayne... considering Lil' Wayne is collaborating with every other artist on the face of the planet. Seriously, when is the Lil' Wayne-Taylor Swift duet coming out?
HJB also says Beamer is getting down with the team for the good of Hokie Nation:
I seem to think this Beamer Dance Off is some sort of reward for the players. Beamer, on Thursday before Saturday match-up with TEAM X in a big game, the team is screwing around, the coaches are pissed, losing the team's focus,........"quit that lolly gagging you lazy fVcks, quit screwing around!!!! Tell you what, focus up here tonight and tomorrow at the walkthrough, and I'll let you bump whatever you want to in the locker room after the game and I'll even bounce with you on camera if we kick the sh!t out of TEAM X!!!!" Enormous roar, sudden team focus, big win. Dancing Frankie Beamdog.
The Northerner hopes there's at least one song we can all agree is being played on player's iPods:
And of course, Enter Sandman had better be getting some play time or else we have a real problem. But I doubt that even needs to be said.