After Wednesday's practice, offensive coordinator Bryan Stinespring told BeamerBall.com that heir-apparent QB Logan Thomas is going to get some reps at tight end, in the interest of getting Virginia Tech's best athletes on the field. His primary focus still remains as a quarterback, but the work at tight end tells you something about how the Hokie coaches view this upcoming season.
In his comments to BeamerBall.com, Stinespring wasn't fully clear on how much work Thomas will get at tight end. He said that Thomas's primary responsibility remains to get better as a quarterback every day, and that they're easing him into some plays at the tight end position, in the hopes that he can help the Hokies out there.
But again: Thomas is still first and foremost a quarterback.
Kyle Tucker of the Virginian-Pilot tweeted that Thomas's tight end work is "limited" and that it's strictly route-running at this point.
It's not clear where this will go, and the VT coaches themselves may not know at this point. But you have to ask yourself the question: with so many weapons on offense, why would the Tech coaching staff be willing to split the attention and duties of a guy who is one Tyrod Taylor injury away from being the starting quarterback?
The answer, we think, points to an effort on the Virginia Tech coaching staff to go "all in" for this season and make a run at the national championship. They're pulling out all the stops and looking for every little advantage that could mean the difference between 10-2 or 11-1 in the regular season, or 12-0. If Logan Thomas catching a TD pass on a go route from the tight end position is, say, the difference between victory and defeat at North Carolina on November 13th, then why not put that weapon in your arsenal?
They're running a risk, of course. It's not just a question of having Thomas take a few snaps at QB, then move to tight end while Tyrod and Ju-Ju Clayton throw to him. The Tech staff has to decide how much time Logan is going to spend working with the tight ends position coach (Bryan Stinespring), watching film as a tight end, learning plays as a tight end, working on blocking technique, or going to meetings with the other tight ends, instead of focusing completely on the quarterback position. It's a slippery slope.
If Tyrod Taylor stays healthy all season, it doesn't matter how much time Logan Thomas spends working at quarterback, because he'll never see the field in a critical situation. But if Tyrod gets hurt, and the coaches decide to replace him with Thomas and not Clayton, then every minute spent studying or practicing the tight end position is a minute that might have made him a better QB. You're now risking wins.
The fact that the Tech coaching staff is willing to divert an iota of Logan Thomas's attention away from the QB position tells you that the Hokie coaches want to make hay while the sun shines. They want to maximize their chances to play for the national championship in a year in which they have a senior QB, a high preseason ranking, and a relatively good shot at it. When was the last time the Hokies had a talented senior QB and a top ten preseason ranking? Answer: never.
It also tells you to watch the ongoing David Wilson redshirt issue. If the coaches think Wilson can somehow be the difference between winning or losing any game on the schedule, a redshirt for him might not be a sure thing.
Don't Sleep on the Eagles
The discussion of Virginia Tech's football schedule has centered around two parts: the opener against Boise State and the tough three-game November stretch of GT, @UNC, and @Miami. That's understandable, but let me put someone else on your radar screen, someone else who is equally as important: Boston College, in Chestnut Hill, on September 25th.
When last we saw Boston College, the Hokies were humiliating the Eagles 48-14 in Lane Stadium last October. It wasn't even that close, because BC scored a TD against Tech's backups with 33 seconds left to go. This was a blowout in every sense of the word, with Tech outgaining BC 435-163, winning the turnover battle 3-1, and generally traumatizing starting BC quarterback Dave Shinskie (1-for-12, 4 yards, 2 INTs, including a pick-six).
Don't let that result lull you to sleep. Pop quiz: what was BC's final record last year? The Eagles went 8-4 in the regular season last year, 5-3 in the ACC, good enough for second in the ACC Atlantic. That didn't look like an 8-4 team in Lane Stadium last year, did it? But it was.
The Hokies have to go on the road against BC this season, and Chestnut Hill has been a struggle for the Hokies for over a decade. In 1996, Tech went to BC and demolished the Eagles 45-7, but in the five games in BC's Alumni Stadium since then, the Eagles have fought the Hokies to a near standstill.
|The Hokies in Chestnut Hill|
|1998||W||17-0||Hokies start Nick Sorensen at QB and win it with D and special teams.|
|2000||W||48-34||Very good Vick-led team rushes for 420 yards, but the Eagles pile up 203 rushing yards themselves and keep it respectable.|
|2002||W||28-23||Hokies bolt to early 14-0 lead, but cough up 279 punt- and kick-return yards to BC and hang on to win.|
|2006||L||3-22||Hokies gain just 181 yards of offense in one of their more embarrassing defeats of the last ten years.|
|2008||L||23-28||Hokies return two INTs for touchdowns, but putrid offense (240 yards, 0 TDs) results in loss.|
|Totals/Avg||3-2||23.8-21.4||Things are trending against Tech here.|
Outside Chestnut Hill, the Hokies are 7-2 against BC since 1997, with two of those wins coming in ACC Championship games. But as you can see, it's a different story up north.
So file that away in your thinking. Not only is the opener against Boise State huge, and that three-game stretch in November will probably determine the Coastal Division championship, but the trip to Boston on Sep. 25th is an ambush waiting to happen.
Also of concern is the trip to NC State the week after the BC game. The game in Chestnut Hill will be a dogfight, and the Hokies can't let down against the Wolfpack on Oct. 2nd.
Long-Term Effects of the Scandal at UNC?
(Note: as we go to press with this article, there have been no statements from UNC regarding the agent scandal and assistant coach John Blake.)
Speaking of ACC brethren, the ongoing scandal at UNC is a gripping story. It would take too much time to recap everything that's going on within the context of this article, so if you aren't up to speed, just Google "UNC agent scandal Marvin Austin John Blake" for a cornucopia of fill-in material.
The immediate concern to the NCAA is that Marvin Austin and other Tar Heels and college football players may have received improper benefits from an agent, Gary Wichard. Beyond that immediate issue, there's a connection between Wichard and Tar Heel defensive line coach John Blake that the NCAA wants to investigate.
Blake has long been regarded as a shady operator in college football. No, he has never been officially caught doing anything, but South Carolina coach Steve Spurrier had a very interesting quote regarding Blake. When the news broke that Blake was (very) connected to Wichard, Spurrier was asked if that surprised him. He said:
"Let me just say this: When you've been in coaching as long as I have, we know the reputation of almost all the coaches out there that have been around a long time," Spurrier told The (Columbia) State newspaper. "So I guess what I would say is that article's not very surprising. That's about the least I should say about it. We all have a reputation, especially guys who've coached 20 years or so. It's hard to hide whatever your reputation is."
If the NCAA chooses to take a close look at Blake's actions at UNC, not just with regards to his connections to Wichard, but with his recruiting practices in general, this thing might blow up on UNC. The Tar Heels have the ongoing bad press of the agent scandal, and they could have the stain of something more long-term, depending upon what Blake may have done and how closely the NCAA chooses to look.
I admit that I don't know a lot about the culture at UNC, beyond what we all know: it's a basketball-first school, and very proud not just of its academic reputation, but also of its athletic reputation of high accomplishment and high behavioral standards. UNC is a school that is generally regarded not just as having done it well, but having done it the right way.
When UNC hired Butch Davis to coach their football team, they made a commitment to winning, a very expensive commitment. They immediately set about giving Davis everything he said he needed, from a big contract ($2 million per year) to a $70 million expansion of Kenan Stadium (check out http://www.newkenan.com/).
What if they accidentally sold their soul in the process? At the very least, it might be found out that Marvin Austin was ineligible for the 2009 season, meaning the Heels would have to vacate all of their victories from that year, and at the very worst, the NCAA might discover violations of the worst kind, if they're able to find out that Blake's actions match his shady reputation.
I say "accidentally" because I think that UNC, in giving Butch Davis the keys to the kingdom, didn't know what they were doing, simply because they don't know football. Here's a simple question: if Roy Williams (or any other UNC basketball coach) wanted to hire a basketball assistant with the reputation of John Blake, do you think that would be allowed to happen? I don't. I think the UNC athletics administration would know about it, and would block it. I'd like to think so, anyway.
But there's probably no one in UNC's basketball-centric athletics culture who knew enough about football to stand up, when Davis wanted to hire John Blake, and say, "Um, wait a minute ... " Now they've got a guy on staff who may derail the program.
North Carolina has enough trouble as it is getting fans to buy into football in a big way. If the fans have ponied up tens of millions of dollars for stadium expansion at the request of a coach (Butch Davis) who hires cronies (John Blake) who embarrass the program, and perhaps even put it on probation, then the fallout will be big. For a university that wants to be good at football, having the program become a stain on their athletics reputation will set that effort back years.
Good for the Hokies, eh? I'm usually in favor of having ACC football teams be strong, but not North Carolina. The Tar Heels are too potent of a recruiting adversary, not just in the increasingly-important state of North Carolina, but in the always-important home state of Virginia.
If Butch and Blake get the Heels in hot water, that will be just fine with me. Sorry to be that way, but it's the truth.