Spring Game: mixed squads, o4.21.2012
TV coverage: ESPN3, 4pm
Vegas odds: OFF
Last time we broke the defense down and took a looksee at what graduation and attrition had done to the prospective 2012 Virginia Tech stop-unit.
Now it is time to get a leg up on the 2012 Virginia Tech offensive huddle which has been stripped of numerous starters and 3 all-time school leaders via graduation. Speaking of Via, he too is out for the spring, well, via, his second A.c.l. tear. God bless on that…
Gone as well are 4 starting offensive linemen and their collective 8,400 odd career plays from scrimmage! Gone as well is the top-2 all-time career Virginia Tech pass-catchers, and the all-time single season rusher in Hokie history! In totality, Virginia Tech has just departed 8 offensive starters, at least 4 of which are likely pros, and 3 of which will likely see their names at or near the top of the Virginia Tech record book for years if not generations to come.
Yah; that’s a lotta player personnel turnover from the formerly 24th ranked total offense, –ain’t it?
Given that, what can we surmise regarding the 2012 Virgina Tech’s offense’s station … when borrowing on equal parts objective data, analysis, and sourcing? No do be clear, this can actually be a good Virgina Tech offense despite so many new-names; when given enough time, reps, health and synchronicity.
Some parts of this possession based unit are shinier than others. Although right now, the early spring practice returns aver that Stiney, the other Coach Beamer, Coach Sherm’, coach Newsome and play-caller Mike O’Cain have some work out in front of them before this 2012 Virginia Tech offense meshes and becomes a well oiled machine.
“To Qb or not to Qb, that is the question.”
Although this year that question only applies to whomever shakes out to be Qb-3 (third string Qb); as Logan Thomas is in a two way race with Tajh Boyd of Clemson for first-string all-A.c.c. honors and my boy Mark Leal could start for at least the bottom 3 or 4 A.c.c. football doormats right about now. #3 (L.T.) does need some tinkering and puttering however. Among such would be the following … his footwork gets a tad choppy at times, he still sails 5-10 throws per season and it is just a matter of time until a ballhawking Safety runs one of two of ‘em down; and his release point has just a touch of a basketball ‘esque string pulling element to it in the face of full-frontal pressure in the pocket. All of that has improve a little since the start of 2011 and yet all of that needs to be ironed out before L.T. takes his Saturday game to a Sunday near you. My best take is that with L.T. on course (pun intended) to graduate on time (if not possibly before); his Virginia Tech shelf-life now stands at 13-14 games. I’ve already heard and seen a lot about him being a first-round draft pick next year, I’ve even seen a few early 2013 N.F.L. draft projections that have the Adonis in cleats otherwise know Logan Lamont Thomas; rated as the first best Qb prospect in next years N.F.L. draft and I even saw one mock draft that had L.T. listed as #1 overall!
Yes stats are reductive, and not predictive –they are the sporting ghost of Christmas past, and not necessarily heralds of Ebenezer’s futures market let to come. That caveat firmly in place, it is gonna be real tough to turn any of those above N.F.L. projections down if L.T.’s 2012 numbers (statistics) are on par with or in excess of his 2011 vitals. 3,000+ passing, 60% passing, a 2:1 touchdown to interception ratio, and 469 on the ground with 30 TD’s combined is a whale of a debut year from a r-sophomore Qb who was not officially a collegiate Qb until he set foot on a certain New River Valley campus a couple of years ago. Even if L.T.’s 2012 is an isomer of his 2011, just double those numbers and try to tell me that a 6,000+ yard passer, right at 60% with 60 TD’s in two seasons is not N.F.L. ready? Or in other words, L.T. is prolly a Pro player at a nearly unheard of two positions, Qb and Te alike if he should ever want to move back or end up officially coached into moving back. Te is the lowest paid position in the N.F.L. and Qb is the richest; so you tell me … does L.T. have one or two years left in his O&M career at Virginia Tech? You do the maths…
Is Leal the biggest Qb out there?
Is Leal the fastest Qb out there?
Is Leal the strongest armed Qb out there?
Nevertheless, is #6 Mark Leal above average in all three of the aforementioned Pivot (Canadian Football League for Qb) metrics and a rather handsomely polished caddy-Qb thanks to some epic former all-M.A.C. high school coaching from one Omar Jacobs? You bettcah he is. This kid just has it. With “it” being code for being a winner or something of an impoverished mans post-wvu senior year Bryan Randall play-maker if you will. This kid is more than a game manager and if this were the N.F.L. I’d recommend that we deal him in return for help at some other position or positions plural. This kid is that good; his whopping 218.9 Qb rating -which was ~61% better than L.T.’s mind you- says so and he will show all of you all of that come 2014; if not before. Leal is a pure born and bred winner; even if the eye-test says “push” or “pass” on that.
The key here is third string Qb or Qb-3. Who will that be? The early odds-on favorite, according to most, is Trey Gresh. Trey is a gutty kid; if you don’t believe me just ask his you gotta have heart gut-check of an all-out-effort during his 2-point saving run-down of the Marshall defender from behind when it surly looked like Trey had no chance to catch him on film last September up in the Dub.Vee. Trey has surprisingly burly strength (340 lb. front-squat) and he is something of a minor league athlete as his 3-time all-state performance in track-n-field in High School freely suggests. This is Trey’s third spring on campus as an early enrollee despite being an r-sophomore in terms of class rank. That means he knows the play-book and should have the X’s and O’s firmly in place between the ears. Trey is a back-up Qb and P.A.T. or F.G.A. holder by trade. He is not a starting quality Pivot, at least not in top-2 or top-3 A.c.c. terms. That means he is a purified game-manager or a heightened Nick Sorensen who might be able to somehow manufacture a bonus play or two if pressed into emergency service with a game on the line this fall.
That is unless Brian Rody or a Qb not yet on campus (Motley) can make a sudden rush up the depth-chart. (READERs note: Shaw is a Georgia Tech one-man Scout Team simulation Qb –wonder where I’ve read that idea before).
Rody has the physical metrics, and he might be just a couple of centimeters ahead of Gresh in terms of being a more natural passer; although he was a bit injury prone in high school and basically had to recruit himself to Virginia Tech. Motley was a Wing-T Qb last year for local Christiansburg High School and he does have a live arm. Even if that arm eventually makes its way to Safety. Ergo, the third-string or Qb-3 position is nearly Gresh’s to win via default. As I serially doubt Frank would trust a true rookie Qb with the keys to the orange and maroon car in a pinch. Likewise the fact that naming Gresh as third-string Qb frees up a bonus roster spot for the traveling squad; thus making us effectively +1 out on the road and that does not hurt one iota as we can carry one extra Position player as match-ups or injury driven need(s) dictate when we travel.
Let us examine this habitual annual bugbear through the lens of a science-fact or via a quick read in the 2012 oLine’s objective medial-jacket. The proven and irrefutable public domain of a medial jacket on the nearly unanimous projected 2012 oLine starters reads thus…
- left-Ot, Becton: a Sunday talent with a Saturday fire-in-the-belly, in a contract season: has thankfully been relatively healthy less one turf-toe for the duration –knock on wood
- right-Guard, Wang: fringe N.F.L. talent due to lack of size; missed two outta three years with a frozen shoulder and a broken foot –God bless
- Center, Milller: low-round N.F.L. caliber player who battled limiting hip and ankle troubles for most of the second half of 2011 –God Bless
- right-Guard: Benedict: potential next level baller with a severe knee injury and the operable words from numerous sources here are “nerve damage”; “career threatening”; and “catastrophic”. Most of those I got from the U.G.A. staff with whom Benedict clashed mind ou, one of whom is a former Hokie of all things and as the great Paul Harvey used to say … “and now you know the rest of the story.”–God bless
- right-Ot, Via: handsome utility player who can play all three spots up-front in a pinch; who is also out for the spring (yet again) after putting together three consecutive injury riddled seasons and coming off of his second blown A.C.L. –God bless (READERs note: Painter may be making a push here; let’s hope so!)
Ergo, how exactly does one ethically state that this projected 2012 starting offensive-line has a history of high-standing health? How exactly do you expect me to believe that all five of ‘em will remain upright, locked, cocked and ready to rock for all 13 games next year when that has never happened before? If you believe that I have some ocean-front timeshares out in East Dakota that you may be interested in. Behind the starters -not the timeshares- we have talent and we also have near-side (or ‘rong-side) Experience and Learning curve effects alike. Don’t believe me? The probable 2012 oLine back-ups have: 29, 28, 14 and 5, career plays individually. That’s plays folks, not starts. Not to mention that this projected 2012 starting oLine will have to wait until August to start working together in top-5 terms shoulder-to-shoulder unless the Paint-shop finally opens for full-time business at right-Ot. Which would be an enormous forward facing blessing as the gelling and eventually meshing could start right now.
Now I’m hearing whispers that our best back-up (Farris) -which to me does include the aforementioned Via (that’s how high I am on Farris)- has a trick-knee! That will retard second unit development and necessitate even more (re)shuffling up-front and that objectively signals a slow start for the 2012 offensive-line to me. Ditto the early insider returns that posit that we did not get a good push in the running game and that pass protection was well south of that in closed scrimmage#1. With our version of zone-blocking this starting oLine unit desperately needs all the reps that it can get and yet it will only get about 4 weeks worth -presuming no further attrition occurs- before it takes the field vs. the formerly 43rd ranked Georgia Tech defense who returns 9 starters on Labor Day Night. As of now, I’m seeing an oLine that is a reliably 7-deep, with an outside shot at going 8 (deep). That signals fatigue and wear-n-tear concerns as the 2012 campaign trudges along as we desperately need at least 1 or 2 outta legacy-Shuman, Gibby (Gibson), Arkema, Barfield (he of the highest industry or 16-ton work ethos team-wide) or maybe even a surging surprise break-out offensive-lineman to make some spring practice noise and turn the 2012 depth-chart on its head. Right now the 2012 Virgina Tech oLine starters project to open up decent, if not solid; and close solid, if not good. Though there is a drop-off warning in effect; and even that is predicated upon IF they stay healthy and IF they can manufacture 2-3 more quality back-up bodies.
Te‘s and Wr’s:
Our top-3 Wideouts all enjoy freaky or semi-freaky downfield speed and or raw size/metric advantages vs. most any secondary defender that they will face in 2012. Ditto a couple of key back-ups who are even faster than the starters (if you can believe it)! Let’s see how a given defense deals with all of that and let’s see how a given defense deals with all of that via our new hurry-up or up-tempo offensive sets. Caveat: providing we can pass protect on straight 5 and 7-step drops, or simply roll the pocket towards the edge of the field or beyond the C-Gap itself and suddenly things will get wiggy in a hurry as we will have the best vertical stretch we’ve enjoyed this side of Clowney/Harper/Morgan or maybe even all the way back to Andre Davis himself. I for one really like the top-3 of Davis, Roberts, and D.J. Coles. I don’t know about you? However, I am numbering two next level guys among those three right there; with another one or two long-view Pros over on the Virginia Tech bench. I’m getting good feedback on Davis, and on Dunn at Te –who I expect to be sneaky good come this autumn, my sleeper pick in fact.
The one caveat here is reps as in repetitions or the need for some to establish some rhythm, some timing and some trust between a nearly brand-new pitch-n-catch battery between L.T. and his given receiving target(s). That and the need to find two full-time blocking Te’s which would allow us to employ our Jumbo or twin-Te set that fits our new north-south rushing Tb’s to the proverbial “T” and from which Coach Stiney has authored some fairly smart work in the past.
The pre-season traditional magazine cognoscenti may not agree with me here … nevertheless, this is the bronze-medal or third best pass catching corps in the whole entire Atlantic Coast Conference right now. And I for one am looking for some heightened yards per catch averages outta this 2012 pass catching crew. Recall that last year we only had one guy who averaged north of 15.1 yards per catch; and he (Davis) is back. Logan Thomas easily has the arm strength to throw deep and if need be throw deep off his back foot. I also get the suspicion that the offensive staff knows that is must continue to crawl out from and at least peak around it’s former Jerry Claiborne era offensive shell and see how play-calling life in the 1990’s or maybe early on in the 21st century tastes. I actually expect us to be more dynamic in our passing game than ever before; just be patient and give this new rotation a month or so to get dialed in and then sit back and enjoy the O&M show from October on, again; providing that we can pass protect and at least remain in the vicinity of our twenty-second best 17 total sacks allowed last year. Hell, right now I’d settle for an Ace-10 or 21 2012 sacks allowed and just call the whole thing off.
Dear Michael Holmes:
Welcome to a 4-year starting Tb career at Vah.Tech. The only real concern here I have is durability. As Mr. Holmes next open-field shank-n-bake move to avoid contact will be his first. This kid a purified north-south runner and a chain-mover too boot. Make no mistake on that, as #20 is more parts 93% lean Prime Ground and less parts beef Wellington. Don’t die of shock if he averages 3.9 to 4.1 yards per carry for his Virginia Tech career. The last time I checked 3.9*3=a first down with 1.9 yards to spare. Mr. style (Wilson) has left the building; Mr. substance (Holmes) is here to stay. That said, campus goers watched this kid take a whole lotta orange and maroon contact last August and autumn. Hence, don’t be too surprised if Mr. Holmes is better or fresher to begin the year that he is in late November, or for that matter, even in late 2015. This segues me to my next point … who is the other Coach Beamer’s #2 Tb for next season as Holmes clearly needs someone to spell him from time-to-time? Is said #2 Tb even on campus for springball at this time? #25 Martin Scales runs like a low-to-the-ground human ballista in melee combat terms. Someone trumpeted his move to Tb from day-one post Sugar Bowl and now lookee here, such has actually and factually come to fruition. As this kid runs like a mother and elicits a chorus of ooooooh’s and ahhhhhh’s from his sideline brothers nearly every single scrimmage. Scales is known for his friendly-fire punishing and extremely low-center of gravity style of rushing. Beyond Scales, we almost have to look to a true-freshman to fill the primary or tertiary back-up roll at Tb via default. Right now the Pennsylvania kid (Harris) -who does have a play-right away D-1 frame- is coming off of not one, two knee tears. Although sources have recently hinted that he is further along than expected –even if we have to wait until August to evaluate just how far that recovery may or my not actually be. God bless Mr. Harris on that as he was hands down my back-up pick prior to his senior High School season knee detonation.
The South Carolina kid (Mangus) only goes a buck=75 (175 lbs.), the Chesapeake Virginia native (J.C. Coleman –no relation) is even smaller at 170 lbs., although recent reports suggest that he has now toppled one-eighty. Any of them read like they are 2012 play-right-away ready to you? Me neither –at least not full-time. And that tells me that you’d better keep your fingers, eyes and toes all crossed that Mr. Holmes remains good-to-go solo. That forces the Dan River Virginia kid (Edmonds) into the ball-carrying consideration virtually via default. Thus said, Trey looks like a next-level linebacker prospect and less like a Sunday Tb/Fb to me. However, Trey does not want for toughs; and the prospect of a triple-header of Holmes, Scales and Edmonds rolling out and bowling people over with a pure assault and battery uber physical brand of football is right up the senior Beamer’s power rushing alley. (READERs note: with T.Clark gonzo, me thinks that Mike and ‘backer needs may have to take precedent here)
Now mix in L.T. on some version of the Option -as Tb no longer fields the speed for such outside (pun intended) of J.C.C. – and suddenly you could see quite a few opposing defender feelings getting hurt, and quite a few opposing defensive mommas crying up in the stands as the Virginia Tech offensive shock troops simply bowl them over next fall. IF Holmes stays healthy and IF this oLine finally shorts itself out; this 2012 offense may not have a high Q-score when carrying the mail or a whole lotta sexxy as a ground-assault goes; although IF all of that comes to realization, this 2012 VT offense is gonna leave a whole lotta 2012 opponents all-hat and no-cattle.