Wednesday, April 24, 2013
Take 2: VT's new offense cause for alarm?
By Andrea Adelson and Heather Dinich
Virginia Tech did not exactly have an impressive performance on offense in its spring game last weekend, a big disappointment considering the staff changes that were made to address the problems the team had last season.
So the natural question is this: Should the offensive display be cause for concern?
Heather Dinich and Andrea Adelson weigh in.
HD says: Remain calm.
Hokies QB Logan Thomas should benefit from what is expected to be a solid offensive line in 2013.
Last April, an ACC quarterback threw a pair of interceptions in his team’s double-overtime spring game loss. They were ugly, those picks.
Remember? Of course you don’t. Because last fall, that same quarterback was named the ACC’s Player of the Year.
Thank you, Tajh Boyd, for reminding us how irrelevant spring game stats are.
At first glance, Virginia Tech fans might have had to reach for the nearest Defibrilator after watching the offense in the Hokies’ spring game. The Achilles Heel of 2012 still looked wounded under new offensive coordinator Scot Loeffler. Quarterback Logan Thomas threw three interceptions, including two that were returned for touchdowns, against a White team comprised mainly of backups, a group that was spotted 13 points just to even the score a bit. David Teel of the Daily Press called it “putrid.”
I call it April.
With Alabama scheduled for Aug. 31, there is simply no way Virginia Tech’s spring game was any indication of what the offense will look like in the season opener. Loeffler hasn’t even installed the entire playbook, and the staff certainly isn’t going to reveal anything from it now. Virginia Tech ran two running plays. It ran less than 10 passing plays. The backup quarterback in at the end of the game certainly wasn't in there trying to make the biggest comeback in ACC spring game history. Don't forget there is also a priority to stay healthy in these games, not have guys put their ACLs on the line for a first down. Granted, the players need to be able to execute the vanilla calls as well, but this is the time to get the kinks out -- not Aug. 31.
Maybe, just maybe, Virginia Tech’s defense -- which returns nine starters and is coached by one of the top coordinators in the country -- is pretty darn good. Maybe Thomas and the offense still have a ton of work to do.
Odds are it’s a combination of both, and that’s to be expected this time of year, especially with a new coordinator, new offensive line coach and new receivers coach, not to mention another inexperienced offensive line. It’s not time for Virginia Tech fans to panic.
This was a forgettable spring game for the Hokies and their fans -- just like the one Boyd had last season, remember?
Didn’t think so.
AA says: Sound alarm bells!
Virginia Tech had two major priorities on offense this spring:
1. Fix the run game.
2. Help Thomas get back on the right track.
Now, I generally take spring games for what they are -- open practices that feature little in the way of Earth-shattering plays or revealing information. But I have to make an exception for what happened in Blacksburg this past weekend.
What fans saw should be cause for alarm. Not panic, per se, because the football season still is four months away. But definitely cause for alarm.
Why? One simple reason. Not one shred of improvement in either area, and that is with a new offensive coordinator. We can add in a few disclaimers: guys are still learning the offense and getting used to some of their new coaches; the defense is going to be as good as expected; the offensive line is banged up.
But those disclaimers sound like excuses.
No matter what type of offense you are running, gaining 23 TOTAL yards on the ground is unacceptable.
No matter what type of offense you are running, watching Thomas throw three interceptions -- including two returned for touchdowns -- is unacceptable.
I do not need to remind anyone the offense struggled last season in the same two areas that failed in the spring game. Thomas turned the ball over way too much last year -- 16 interceptions to 18 touchdowns -- and completed only a little over half his passes. Though he was selected as one of the most valuable performers of the spring, his performance in the game is what will sit with fans through this long offseason.
As for the running game, no one running back emerged with any consistency to become the featured back last year. Michael Holmes led all rushers with 24 yards in the spring game, but he was arrested hours later and subsequently suspended indefinitely. Even without this unfortunate turn of events, nobody had distinguished himself enough to take the mantle of “the guy” in the backfield.
Virginia Tech made a change at coordinator to specifically fix these issues. Perhaps there is a talent problem, and not a scheme problem or coordinator problem. Or perhaps we are reading way too much into a meaningless spring game.
We will find out whether the performance last week portends things to come soon enough -- against the No. 1 team in the nation to open the season.