ACC: Bryan Stinespring

Only three ACC schools kept their entire coaching staffs intact this past offseason, the clearest way to show how transient the profession is on a year-to-year basis.

[+] EnlargeBud Foster
Jeremy Brevard/USA TODAY SportsDefensive coordinator Bud Foster has been Frank Beamer's right-hand man at Virginia Tech since 1987.
That is why a select group of coaches deserve a hand. Chris Vannini of Coachingsearch.com compiled a list of FBS assistants who have stayed at their respective schools for at least 10 years.

It is not a very long list.

Only 37 of 1,152 full-time assistants meet that standard. Four are from the ACC. Three are from one school: Virginia Tech.

  • Bud Foster, Virginia Tech defensive coordinator, 1987
  • Bryan Stinespring, Virginia Tech tight ends coach and recruiting coordinator, 1990
  • Charley Wiles, Virginia Tech defensive line/run game coordinator, 1996
  • Odell Haggins, Florida State defensive tackles, 1994

Stinespring and Haggins break the typical assistants mold, making their stories especially remarkable. Neither has ever worked for another FBS school. Haggins played at Florida State from 1986-89, then began his coaching career there in 1994. He was recently promoted to associate head coach and is going into his 21st season with the Seminoles.

Stinespring started at Virginia Tech as a graduate assistant, working his way up to offensive coordinator. After the 2012 season, he remained on staff as recruiting coordinator/tight ends coach despite losing his offensive coordinator duties.

Foster and Wiles both played for Virginia Tech coach Frank Beamer; Foster has spent his entire coaching career with Beamer, turning down opportunities to become defensive coordinator elsewhere. His name has been linked to head coach openings in the past, and there is no doubt he would love the opportunity to run his own program one day. But until that day comes, Foster remains committed to both Beamer and Virginia Tech. The reverse is true as well.

What is clear about all four: they have gotten on-the-field results and have benefited from being at programs with long-tenured head coaches. Beamer has been at Virginia Tech since 1987. Florida State coach Jimbo Fisher worked with Haggins under Bobby Bowden, and Fisher decided to retain him on staff. Fisher also retained two other assistants who remain in Tallahassee: offensive line coach Rick Trickett and receivers coach Lawrence Dawsey. Both are going into their eighth seasons at Florida State -- not quite a decade but quite a solid tenure at one place.
Virginia Tech did not have a top 25 recruiting class this year, but the Hokies did a great job filling several areas of need on signing day. I had a chance to catch up with recruiting coordinator Bryan Stinespring for his thoughts on the incoming group.

The skill positions were a huge area of need, and you seemed to have met them. How many do you think can contribute right away?

Stinespring: We hope all of them. But first off, I want to say I thought our staff from the beginning to the end did a great job being diligent in making sure we met our needs. You’re always looking for the best players you can get regardless of position, but you also need to focus on your primary needs. For us to get the skill position guys we got -- not only the quality of the player but in terms of creating depth, creating competition -- I thought we did a terrific job and we’re excited about it.

[+] EnlargeIsaiah Ford
Miller Safrit/ESPNFour-star wide receiver Isaiah Ford was part of a big Virginia Tech haul at the skill positions in the 2014 recruiting class.
At receiver, you have a guy like Isaiah Ford who has an opportunity, a two-sport guy who is very impressive in both venues; an in-state kid like Jaylen Bradshaw, a very skilled athlete. A guy we've been impressed with is Greg Stroman. He's one of those guys that in recruiting you go into the school and people have great things to say about him, but when you go out and people talk about him who’ve seen him play, he’s just one of those guys that kept popping up no matter where you went, just about how impressive he is. With Cameron Phillips and Kendrick Holland, too, I know how excited we are about that bunch.

What about at running back? You already have Marshawn Williams and Shai McKenzie on campus and enrolled. Will they push for playing time?

Stinespring: We also have Braxton Pfaff (OL), Andrew Ford (QB) and Vinny Mihota (DE) in here early. But as for the backs, Trey Edmunds is going to be out of spring practice so we’ll get a chance to get a look at some of these younger tailbacks. Shai is still recovering from a knee injury he had in high school. He will have no contact but we’ll see some things in the spring practices. To almost rush for 5,000 yards in high school and miss three-fourths of your senior year, that’s pretty impressive.

Williams and McKenzie are similar in size. Are they similar in how they play?

Stinespring: They are somewhat different in their running styles. We wanted to get a couple bigger backs and we felt like we were able to do that. Marshawn is probably the biggest. When you think of him, you think of power and strength. You don’t want to be the first tackler on Marshawn, you want to be the second or third guy because that first one, it's hard to determine who’s the hammer or the nail. Shai has size but he relies on the ability to make people miss and he does a great job of that.

You also signed several quarterbacks, including Ford, Chris Durkin and Travon McMillian. Is the plan to keep McMillian at quarterback?

Stinespring: Initially, McMillian will concentrate on the quarterback spot, but Andrew is here and will go through spring practice and we can evaluate where he is. With Durkin and Travon, we still want to be able to see where Travon is as a quarterback. We felt like with where we are at quarterback, we needed to re-up the numbers there and we were able to do so.

Offensive line was also an area of need. How do you feel you did at that position?

Stinespring: We’ve got potentially four seniors starting up front this coming year, so it was certainly very important for us to go out and be able to get the numbers in that grouping to enable us to develop and create some depth. We also have time available to develop these guys. They all share similar qualities we were looking at this go around -- they all move around real well, they’ve got good feet, they’re athletic. We feel like our strength and conditioning program will benefit them tremendously.

There were a few guys who got away on signing day, but overall how do you feel about the class you signed and what are some area of needs headed into 2015?

Stinespring: We met our needs for the most part. We never get all that we want. We're all like 8-year-olds on Christmas, we all appreciate what's under the tree but we're not opposed to having another present no matter what. When you go into a numbers game, this year was paramount for offensive line and the skill positions. We got three defensive linemen, so we’re going to immediately turn our attention back to that area.

ACC mailblog

December, 20, 2013
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Time to open the mailbag.

Geoff Hatley in Madison, Ala., writes: Hi Ms. Adelson, With the slow but steady decline of the Hokies over the last five years or so, and the miserable state of the offense and special teams, what are the chances that the new President and A.D. make a change in the head coaching position? If they don't, will Beamer at least make a change at offensive coordinator? (Since he seems to have found one of the few OC's in the nation who was actually worse than Bryan Stinespring). And will Frank Beamer finally hire a new special teams coach?

[+] EnlargeFrank Beamer
Kevin C. Cox/Getty ImagesFor all the success he's had at Virginia Tech over the years, Frank Beamer knows "that nothings certain about this business."
Andrea Adelson writes: It is hard for me to envision any change at head coach for 2014. But I do think changes in the Virginia Tech administration mean Beamer will face more pressure to get this program back into the ACC title game. Given the culture in college football today, past accomplishments only take you so far when success begins to wane. Look no further than Texas. Beamer himself said this to local reporters after Mack Brown resigned, "It just kind of reminds you that nothing’s certain about this business. But I’m very sensitive to staying around too long." As for Scot Loeffler, it would be a surprise if Beamer decides to change offensive coordinators for the second straight season. He needs some continuity there.

Jonathan in St. Petersburg, Fla., writes: Hi Andrea!! After comparing the All-ACC teams, there are a few minor differences, but one MAJOR difference. How is it possible that the media voted Kyle Fuller onto the third team while the coaches, ESPN, and the AP all voted him onto the First team and the Walter Camp Foundation named him a second team All-American!! What did everyone else see that the ACC media obviously missed? For me personally, this is a prime example of why I put very little stock into the media when it comes to something that they write about but have never actually participated in (i.e. football polls, All-ACC teams).

Adelson: I am not a voting member of the ACSMA group that selects the All-ACC media team so I cannot answer for them. We had Fuller on our ESPN.com All-ACC team because he was the second-best cornerback in the league at the time he got hurt. Perhaps his injury and the games he missed impacted his spot on the media team. But Heather and I took into account his performance on the No. 2 defense in the ACC when healthy. We were not alone there.

Ladominic Trabue in Louisville writes: Do you feel as though the Louisville Cardinals will have a successful year for the 2014-2015 season or a failed attempt at proving their point as a contender not just in basketball but as football as well??

Adelson: Since this is a football blog, I will talk about the football part of your question. I think Louisville has a ways to go before it can compete with Florida State and Clemson at the top of the Atlantic, especially if Teddy Bridgewater decides to leave school early for the NFL. But when you look at the rest of the Atlantic, there is no reason for Louisville to finish in the bottom third. The schedule gets much more difficult (Notre Dame, Florida State, Miami, Clemson) but I think Louisville will still have a good chance to make a bowl game.

Scott in Kill Devil Hills, N.C., writes: Do you see any team as a favorite in the Coastal next year?

Adelson writes: Tough to say at this point, but I think North Carolina might be my way too early favorite. Duke should still be strong. It will be interesting to see what happens with Miami and Virginia Tech with new quarterbacks. Georgia Tech loses some key senior contributors so I am not sure how strong its chances are in 2013.

[+] EnlargeClemson Tigers
Streeter Lecka/Getty ImagesClemson has 10 wins, but there are some who think that a loss to Ohio State in the Orange Bowl would mean it was a bad year for the Tigers.
Greg in Bristol, Tenn., writes: In light of Clemson's bad losses to Florida State and South Carolina, would a loss to Ohio State leave the average Clemson fan still feeling that they had a good year? They were expected to lead the ACC this year, after all. And another loss to a good team seems like they have not accomplished much but only against teams that they were supposed to beat.

Adelson: That is a great question for the average Clemson fan. Their view might be different from mine as an independent observer. From my perspective, a loss to Ohio State would make this season even more disappointing than it already has been for the Tigers. Yes, they have won 10 games but they were the preseason favorites to win the ACC and expected to compete for a national championship. Losing to Florida State and Clemson again -- the two absolute must-wins on the schedule -- has to leave some type of empty feeling. Beating Ohio State will help. Losing will only reinforce old perceptions about the program.

Jay Helms in Morrisville, N.C., writes: AA, I am here to revoke your right to write about Duke for the remainder of this season. How many times have you picked them in a lower bowl...and for how long did you not have them even going to a bowl? You had them not going to a bowl for a noticeable part of the season! Come on. A team you thought would, at best, be 5-7 won 10 games. That's not a little off. That's a huge miss. I had them going 8-4, maybe 9-3 (with losses to GT, Miami, and VT expected). A good writer would have seen this season coming. I did. And if you'll remember, I wrote you about it months ago. Go back and check. HD is allowed (barely) to write about Duke. But as a Duke engineering graduate, I hereby temporarily revoke our permission for you to write about our football team for the remainder of this season until you publicly admit you overlooked our team AND you just didn't do the work needed to know the truth about the state of the program. This is a probationary revocation. It can be reinstated for next season if you pay closer attention and see beyond the surface and into the program. We wish you the best in your efforts to regain our trust.

Adelson: I hope you skipped over my Q&A with Kelby Brown, then. I believe I have already said I was wrong, but if you are going to revoke my rights, you might as well revoke the rights of every other person who picked Duke to finish last in the preseason media poll. Old habits die hard, and we learned that the hard way.

ACC's lunchtime links

December, 20, 2013
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Fred Gailey: Your honor, every one of these letters is addressed to Santa Claus. The post office has delivered them. Therefore the Post Office Department, a branch of the federal government, recognizes this man Kris Kringle to be the one and only Santa Claus.

Judge Henry X. Harper: Uh, since the United States government declares this man to be Santa Claus, this court will not dispute it. Case dismissed.
 

When you start talking spring football every year, you start talking change.

New coaches.

New players.

New starting quarterbacks.

New teams.

Wait, what?

Yes indeed, life is about to change for the soon-to-be supersized ACC, as Pitt and Syracuse begin spring practice this year with an eye toward Year 1 as new league members. While changes come in many forms, there is no denying that this year more than most, the ACC will see radical changes across the board.

Not only will the league grow to 14 teams, three new coaching staffs are taking charge (Boston College, NC State, Syracuse); nine teams have either a new offensive or defensive coordinator; and 13 teams have at least one new assistant on staff. You know it is an offseason of change when two of the two most stable programs in the league -- Florida State and Virginia Tech -- have undergone staff overhauls.

Jimbo Fisher lost assistants for the first time under his watch, having to replace six in all, including a yet-to-be-hired offensive coordinator and new defensive coordinator Jeremy Pruitt. Perhaps the most galling loss of all came at the hands of longtime rival Miami, which hired away James Coley to serve as offensive coordinator.

As if that wasn't enough, Florida State must also begin the process of replacing departed stars EJ Manuel, Bjoern Werner, Xavier Rhodes and Tank Carradine this spring.

The Noles, however, are in a better spot than the Hokies, coming off their worst season in two decades.

After offensive ineptitude hampered his team for a majority of the season, Frank Beamer changed out his offensive coaching staff, hiring Scot Loeffler as offensive coordinator in place of Bryan Stinespring. This all adds to the prevailing theme in Blacksburg this spring: How will Loeffler get the most out of quarterback Logan Thomas?

Virginia also has made major staff changes. Coach Mike London made the boldest moves in the league this offseason following a 4-8 season, hiring former Colorado State coach Steve Fairchild as offensive coordinator, former NC State coach Tom O'Brien as associate head coach/tight ends, and Jon Tenuta as defensive coordinator. Fairchild, O'Brien and Tenuta bring 115 years of coaching experience to the staff, so you have to believe the pressure is on to turn things around immediately.

Pressure is there for the new faces in the league, too. Boston College coach Steve Addazio has to find a way to turn around a 2-10 team in a hurry. NC State coach Dave Doeren has to know that 7-5 seasons with upsets over Florida State are not good enough in Raleigh, so he's got to find a way to improve with only 11 starters returning. And Syracuse coach Scott Shafer has to find a way to build upon the momentum Syracuse created in its final Big East season, in a division with Florida State and Clemson.

Doeren and Shafer have to meet their goals with a new starting quarterback. Each lost excellent leaders in Mike Glennon and Ryan Nassib, both expected to be drafted in April. Both competitions are wide-open going into the spring, as are the competitions at Florida State, Pittsburgh, Duke and Virginia.

Of these schools, there is perhaps most excitement at Pitt over a new starter, now that the Panthers have said goodbye to the streaky and often-maddening Tino Sunseri. Former Rutgers quarterback Tom Savage and redshirt freshman Chad Voytik figure to be the top two candidates.

But even a school such as Clemson has to deal with change. Yes, the Tigers do return their All-American quarterback Tajh Boyd, coach Dabo Swinney and both coordinators -- holding onto hot commodity Chad Morris for one more season. But they also lose leading receiver DeAndre Hopkins, who declared himself eligible for the NFL draft. And just as important, they have to replace center Dalton Freeman, who made 49 starts in his Tigers career.

So you see, change is everywhere, both big and small. Spring is our first introduction to a new-look ACC come the fall.

2012 report cards: Virginia Tech

January, 31, 2013
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VIRGINIA TECH

OFFENSE: Watching the Hokies’ offense in 2012 was like staring at the numbers on a treadmill -- you’re just waiting and waiting for them to move. The Hokies went nowhere fast this year, and it didn’t get much better as the season went on. Possibly more troubling than the lack of improvement was the lack of physical toughness, both from a blocking standpoint by the receivers, and from the offensive line. There was plenty of blame to go around, and it did -- three assistants were hired, including Scot Loeffler as offensive coordinator. Former coordinator Bryan Stinespring took over as recruiting coordinator, and play-caller Mike O’Cain was reportedly fired. Virginia Tech’s running game never found a true identity, and ranked No. 79 in the country. The scoring offense was No. 81 in the country, averaging 25.08 points per game. Quarterback Logan Thomas seemed to take a step back, but he certainly didn’t get much help from his supporting cast. In the end, the losses from 2011 were too much for Virginia Tech to overcome in one season. Grade: F

DEFENSE: At least this group got better as the season went on. Against Pitt, Bud Foster’s defense was manhandled, particularly up front. It was shocking, really, that Pitt racked up 537 total yards. Against Rutgers, though, in the Russell Athletic Bowl, Virginia Tech’s defense was the difference in the game. The Hokies finished No. 18 in the country in total defense, and No. 32 in scoring defense at 22.85 points per game. It was a strong finish after allowing Pitt 35 points and UNC 48 points. In the final three games of the season -- all wins -- Virginia Tech allowed its opponents an average of 15.6 points per game. It wasn’t a complete disaster, but it certainly wasn’t as good as many had expected it would be, either. Grade: C

OVERALL: Virginia Tech, ranked No. 16 in the Associated Press preseason poll, was either one of college football’s biggest disappointments in 2012 or the expectations were far too high considering how many new starters there were on offense. An overwhelming favorite to win the Coastal Division, Virginia Tech instead was an afterthought in the ACC race as its bowl eligibility came down to the final regular-season game against rival Virginia. The program’s worst season in 20 years at least ended on a positive note with a bowl win, but the coaching was often below-average, as evidenced by the most drastic staff changes Frank Beamer has made since 2006. In this case, it was the Xs, the Os, the Jimmy's and the Joe's. Grade: D

More grades
Virginia Tech fans have been clamoring for change for a long, long time.

SportsNation

Will Virginia Tech benefit in 2013 from its recent offensive staff shakeup?

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Discuss (Total votes: 5,052)

After what was the worst season in 20 years, coach Frank Beamer had little choice this offseason but to finally oblige.

On Friday, Virginia Tech's offensive staff underwent a monumental makeover. Play-caller Mike O'Cain is gone. Offensive line coach Curt Newsome is gone. Receivers coach Kevin Sherman is already at Purdue. Bryan Stinespring has been reassigned. In comes former Temple and Auburn offensive coordinator Scot Loeffler, former Auburn offensive line coach Jeff Grimes and former Stanford wide receivers coach Aaron Moorehead. Stinespring will move from offensive coordinator to Virginia Tech’s recruiting coordinator, as he will continue to coach the tight ends.

Not since 2006, when four assistants were hired, has Beamer made such sweeping changes to his staff. Were these the right moves? Georgia offensive coordinator Mike Bobo reportedly turned down Beamer's offer to be the Hokies' next offensive coordinator. He wasn't the only one. Stanford offensive coordinator Pep Hamilton also interviewed for the job and reportedly turned it down.

Was Loeffler the best option? Or was he the best available option?

Most Virginia Tech fans would likely agree these changes were long overdue. But will they make the Hokies better in 2013?

Let's put it to a vote.

Source: VT hires OC

January, 15, 2013
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Virginia Tech has hired former Auburn coordinator Scot Loeffler as its offensive coordinator, according to a source -- but there has been no official word on what the status of offensive coordinator Bryan Stinespring. The news just keeps on coming for the Hokies today, as quarterback Logan Thomas announced he will return for his senior season.

Virginia Tech hasn't announced any staff changes yet, so it's still unclear who is in what roles. Is Stinespring staying or going? Two other assistants, offensive line coach Curt Newsome, and receivers coach Kevin Sherman, have been offered other jobs, according to a source, but again, Virginia Tech has yet to officially confirm any of this.

So, behind closed doors, there appear to be a lot of decisions being made, but the most important ones today were Thomas' return and the hire of Loeffler, who has moved around a lot in recent years. He was at Michigan through the 2007 season, and Virginia Tech would be his fifth different stop since then (Temple one year, Florida two years, Auburn one year, Detroit Lions one year).

I'm not sure Loeffler is the answer. He tried to more of a pro style offense with Auburn's spread personnel this past season and it obviously didn't work too well. Auburn was No. 115 in the country in total offense. The good news? He'll have an experienced quarterback to work with.

 
For all the endless flak Virginia Tech quarterback Logan Thomas took throughout the 2012 season, his decision Tuesday to stay for his senior season is good news for the Hokies.

No, really.

The naysayers may roll their eyes, but it is important to remember that Thomas enters his senior season as the established leader of the Virginia Tech offense, a veteran player with enough self-awareness to realize that his performance in 2012 was simply not good enough. Not for himself, and not for the Hokies.

[+] EnlargeLogan Thomas
Rob Foldy/USA TODAY SportsHokies QB Logan Thomas should benefit from what is expected to be a solid offensive line in 2013.
His production was down, his completion percentage was ugly (51 percent) and his interception total (16) was too high. None of this can be argued. But somewhere in there, Thomas is still the player who had a breakthrough 2011 season, who led Virginia Tech to an at-large BCS berth, who has enough measurables to have him rated No. 1 on Mel Kiper's list of junior quarterback prospects.

Does he look like a linebacker playing quarterback at times? Yes. Are some of his throws ugly at times? Yes. Did he leave himself open for criticism with his performance in 2012? Yes.

But we cannot look at his 2012 season in a vacuum. The offensive line struggled. The running backs struggled. The receivers struggled. Thomas was not alone. Any good offense works in concert. And Virginia Tech looked about as good as a ragtag elementary school performance only a parent could love.

As the quarterback, Thomas gets the bulk of the credit when all works well and the bulk of the heat when all falls apart. He has seen both sides. But help appears to be on the way in the form of a new offensive coordinator.

As Heather Dinich reported, citing a source, the Hokies have hired former Auburn offensive coordinator Scot Loeffler to take over for Bryan Stinespring. While Loeffler has not exactly turned out inspiring offenses of late -- Auburn was one of the worst in college football in 2012 -- he is most known for his work with and development of quarterbacks.

Virginia Tech has not officially announced any staff changes yet. But given Loeffler's track record with signal-callers in his past, the hope and expectation is for Thomas to live up to his great potential and improve not on 2012 -- but on where he left off after the 2011 season, when he completed nearly 60 percent of his passes and threw six fewer interceptions.

"I need to be a lot more consistent," Thomas said on ESPN's "College Football Live." "I had a lot of throws get away from me this year. I have to take care of the little things, and hopefully that will make me become a better quarterback."

No, Thomas needs to take care of the little things and the big things, and he must elevate the teammates he has around him -- something he failed to do in 2012. That is what makes an elite quarterback and an elite leader. That is what Virginia Tech believes it has in Thomas. That is why his coaches high-fived when they heard he would be returning.

The Hokies are far better off with Thomas despite his shortcomings. He has another chance to show why.

Virginia Tech staff still in flux

January, 8, 2013
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There has been plenty of speculation about possible staff changes at Virginia Tech, but as of right now, the only thing I can confirm through a source is that wide receivers coach Kevin Sherman has been offered a job at Purdue, and offensive line coach Curt Newsome has been offered a job at JMU, but neither one of those assistants has been fired from Virginia Tech. Whether or not those coaches are retained remains to be seen, but during last season, my guess was that if any coaches were relieved of their duties, Sherman and Newsome would be at the top of the list.

There has also been a report that Frank Beamer was scheduled to meet Monday with Stanford offensive coordinator Pep Hamilton at the American Football Coaches Association convention in Nashville, Tenn., according to a CBSSports.com. There has been nothing official to report on that end. My prediction is that Mike O'Cain and Bryan Stinespring are demoted, not fired.

There are still plenty of decisions to be made in Blacksburg. Stay tuned.
Five days have passed since the season ended for Virginia Tech, and no word just yet on if there will be a major offensive staff shake-up.

Most everybody expects something to happen. But what will happen, and to whom? Those are the major questions that remain now that the Hokies avoided disaster with a come-from-behind win over Rutgers in the Russell Athletic Bowl that featured just enough offense to win.

Not great offense. Just enough offense. A season-low 196 yards is not exactly enough to encourage anybody that the status quo should remain.

[+] EnlargeFrank Beamer
Charles LeClaire/US PresswireVirginia Tech coach Frank Beamer has some decisions to make regarding his offense.
As if Hokies fans needed any such reminder, Virginia Tech just completed its worst offensive season since 2008, ranking No. 82 in scoring offense (25.1 ppg) and No. 82 in total offense (376.6). The key difference between this year and 2008, though, was rushing offense. This year, the Hokies averaged 145.9 yards on the ground with a revolving door of backs -- 41 yards fewer than a year ago with David Wilson.

Virginia Tech was better in that category in 2008, averaging 174.3 yards per game to rank No. 35 in the nation, a big reason why it was able to get to the Orange Bowl. The last time the Hokies averaged fewer yards rushing was in 2007, with 133.64 ypg to rank No. 82. Yet even then, they were able to make the Orange Bowl. Both teams in 2007 and 2008 featured stout defenses (No. 4 in 2007; No. 7 in 2008), enough to bail out any offensive shortcomings.

The defense was too inconsistent to be the headliner this year, though it did bail out those shortcomings against Rutgers. Still, it has been apparent for weeks that coach Frank Beamer has some decisions to make. There already is one report that receivers coach Kevin Sherman is going to Purdue.

Less certain is the future of offensive coordinator Bryan Stinespring, who declined to address his future after the game.

Whatever staff changes are made, Virginia Tech has three major questions to answer:

1. If Logan Thomas does return, the Hokies need to find a way to take the load entirely off his shoulders, and to get him to work on his accuracy as a passer. This stat sums up just how badly he struggled this year: His completion percentage dropped from 59.8 percent in 2011 to 51.3 percent in 2012. While it is true he had less talent and consistency at receiver, it is also true he was not consistent enough in the delivery of his passes.

2. Who is the running back? The revolving door did not work this year. Does that mean Virginia Tech does not have a back capable of being a reliable workhorse, or the coaches had itchy fingers and just wanted to try out a whole bunch of players to see what worked? Three different backs started this year -- J.C. Coleman, Tony Gregory and Michael Holmes. None ran for more than 500 yards. That question must be resolved.

3. Consistency on the offensive line. The play up front was not as good as it has been in several years. You understand that early on, as the line had to break in four new starters. But they should have been better at the end of the year. If you want every part of your offense to work in concert, you need a competent offensive line.

ACC Friday mailblog

October, 5, 2012
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FSU fans didn't like my prediction again this weekend. Funny thing is, I keep picking FSU to win ...

Matthew Robb in Tallahassee, Fla., writes: You really think FSU will only win by 7? You didnt learn anything after the Wake Forest game where you picked a narrow margin there as well? With that prediction you are saying that FSU isnt a top 5 team at all. Glennon cant move out of the pocket. The defensive line will have a field day against him just like last year when they had under 200 yards of total offense. At least last year they had an offensive line worth something. GEEZ

HD: That score isn't a knock on FSU by any means. The mark of a great team is not winning by 50 points every Saturday, it's finding a way to win tough games on the road and winning every weekend, regardless of hostile crowds, which FSU will find at Carter-Finley. I will be shocked if NC State doesn't play better and more disciplined than it did last week at Miami.

Chris Jackson in Miami, Fla., writes: Do you think the fighting Irish secondary could stop the air attack against a speedy Miami offense ?

HD: With three new starters back there, the Irish have a very inexperienced secondary. It's something Miami can exploit -- if quarterback Stephen Morris gets the time. Notre Dame's front seven is the real deal, and that's where the Canes should be concerned. The Irish will try and pressure Morris into mistakes. The secondary, though, has been banged up. They've played well so far, but they haven't faced a team passing like Miami is yet. Notre Dame lost one starting safety to an Achilles injury, one expected starting cornerback injured his Achilles in camp. Some guys have come over from offense, too, as one safety was a receiver last year, one cornerback was a receiver two years ago, and another cornerback was a running back when he arrived in June.

Andrew Rosti in Arlington, Va., writes: Heather, I agree that the 8-game conference schedule is the fairest mostly because of the home-away split keeping a balance. However, as conferences grow beyond 12, we see the issue of conference teams not meeting but once every six years, and at home only once every 12 years.Should the ACC go a step further and get rid of the "cross divisional" rival format? Imagine playing in the ACC for all four years and never seeing Clemson, Virginia Tech, or FSU in your career? Teams may see non-conference opponents more frequently.

HD: No, Andrew, I don't think it's really an option to do that, nor do I think it's in the best interest of the league. I think the value of keeping games like FSU-Miami, Clemson-Georgia Tech, UNC-NC State and Maryland-Virginia outweighs not seeing everyone from the other division as often. That is the one good thing that will be lost without the nine-game schedule, though, is that players would have faced each team at least once in his career. Logic states that teams have to have the head-to-head results of facing each team in the same division in order to crown the division champs, and keeping the cross-divisional rivals is important to the league's tradition. Any inequity in that system is partially compensated for by getting a shot at the championship game.

Kenneth in Auburn, Ala., writes: I was slightly disappointed in your hot seat article earlier. It's definitely no secret that many Hokies are dreaming of the day we can have an explosive offense a la pre-Stinespring. What needs to happen in order for Beamer and Weaver to finally realize a drastic offensive change is needed? I'd be happy to see Virginia Tech have a losing record if it meant change from the consistently mediocre coaching we have now.

HD: Simple: Status quo. If Virginia Tech's offense doesn't pick up soon, the Hokies are going to struggle to stay in the Coastal Division race, let alone win it. UNC can score. Miami can score. Heck, Duke can score. I know Frank Beamer has been loyal to his assistants, but at some point, he might have to make a choice. While Stinespring has taken the brunt of the criticism, it wouldn't surprise me if there were changes with some position coaches like wide receiver and/or offensive line. It's still a little too early, though, to say that needs to happen. There is plenty of time for the Hokies' offense to get better, and I would be really surprised if they didn't take another step forward against UNC.

Matthew in Atlanta, Ga., writes: Coming into the season there seemed to be pressure building on Paul Johnson's shoulders. After a rookie season winning our hearts he has compiled a three game losing streak to Miami and Georgia, and going a big 0 -4 in bowl games. After a heartbreaking lose to VT and Miami, and the embarrassing lose to MTSU how hot is his seat? Is a win against Clemson and U[sic]GA enough to keep him in ATL for another year?

HD: Johnson's ridiculous contract will keep him there if nothing else. It still runs through 2016, and according to Ken Sugiura of the Atlanta Journal-Constitution, it would cost the athletic department $10.485 million to fire Johnson after this season. Georgia Tech is already on a tight budget. If there's going to be a scapegoat this year, my guess would be defensive coordinator Al Groh.

hokieingeorgia in Athens, Ga., writes: Do you think that Logan Thomas let all the pre season hype get into his head and thats why he hasnt been playing up to his potential. becouse by now shouldnt he be timed right with all the new receivers.

HD: No, no, no. I'm telling you guys, Logan Thomas is not the problem. It's the guys in front of him. They need to be more physical, and so do the receivers. Virginia Tech needs to block. Period. Hit somebody.

Tom in Miami, Fla., writes: After watching WVU absolutely light up Baylor and everyone else they have played, I am wondering if the UMD defense is better than expected after "holding" WVU to 31 points? I am asking because I am very far from objective as a MD alum, and am looking for an objective opinion.

HD: I said before the season started that Maryland's defense would be better than expected and underrated. It's a very, very talented group that is doing its part to help the Terps dig out of last year's 2-10 crater. Maryland has the No. 11 rushing defense in the country. They've played some good teams. The challenge now is to keep it up against ACC opponents and get more help from the offense.

ACC hot seat update

October, 3, 2012
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After a month of play, it’s time to re-evaluate who’s seats are sizzlin’ in the ACC. Georgia Tech fans are not happy. Virginia Tech fans aren’t happy. And Boston College fans gave up on coach Frank Spaziani at least a year ago. Here’s a look at which coaches and/or coordinators throughout the league need to impress in October:

1. Boston College coach Frank Spaziani. His seat got hotter the minute athletic director Gene DeFilippo announced he would retire on Sept. 30, but BC’s 0-2 start and 1-3 overall record is much more of an immediate concern than the search for a new athletic director. One thing BC fans could typically count on was a stingy defense, and even that’s not a given anymore. BC is No. 74 in the country in scoring defense, allowing almost 30 points per game, and the rushing defense is allowing almost 200 yards per game.

2. Virginia Tech offensive coordinator Bryan Stinespring. If the Hokies’ offense doesn’t show some signs of life soon, Virginia Tech could be in trouble this season and a staff change wouldn’t be shocking. Frank Beamer has been loyal to a fault, but Stinespring isn’t the only one on staff who needs to do a better job. Receivers coach Kevin Sherman and offensive line coach Curt Newsome should shoulder some of the blame for this year’s struggles. Virginia Tech had to replace eight starters on offense, including four on the offensive line, and the Hokies are No. 61 in the country in scoring offense and No. 10 in the ACC in total offense.

3. Georgia Tech defensive coordinator Al Groh. The chants of “Groh must go” have followed him from Charlottesville to Atlanta. The Jackets lost two straight home games for the first time since 1998, and Groh is an easy scapegoat for the struggles. It’s not going to get any easier this weekend in Death Valley against a Clemson offense averaging 510 yards per game. One week after allowing Miami 609 yards of total offense, the Jackets allowed Middle Tennessee 510 total yards.

4. NC State coach Tom O’Brien. Heading into this season, O’Brien said this would be one of the deepest and most experienced teams he has ever had in Raleigh. With four starters returning on the offensive line, a veteran secondary and a talented quarterback, more was expected from NC State than it has showed so far. Athletic director Debbie Yow isn’t one to hesitate if she thinks a change needs to be made. O’Brien needs to find some answers quickly, but the No. 3 team in the country is coming to town this weekend in Florida State.
Following a dismal September in which Virginia Tech fell out of the Associated Press Top 25 and lost two games to Big East opponents, Hokies’ fans are pointing fingers and searching for answers.

The easy answer: There is plenty of blame to go around.

The defense has been surprisingly underwhelming, and the offense stagnant. The offense, though, has taken the brunt of the criticism. There are explanations beyond an embattled offensive coordinator. Here are the top five, based on observations through the first five games:

1. The offensive line has struggled to replace four starters. The significance of this one can’t be undervalued. This group has lacked consistency and toughness, and it has done a poor job of protecting quarterback Logan Thomas. Not only have there been too many defenders around his arm and falling at his feet every game, but his own teammates have struggled to give him space and time. Thomas should be the least of fans’ concerns. The problem is that he’s been hit far too many times. The offensive line is a unique position group that takes time to gel, and these guys are certainly taking their time. They’ve got to toughen up.

2. Thomas is pressing. He must realize he doesn’t have the supporting cast he did a year ago because Thomas is forcing plays. While he would never say it, it’s clear he’s not comfortable in the pocket, and a lot of that could be his confidence in the guys up front. Thomas is getting pounded every game, but he keeps coming back for more. When he has time to throw like he did on Saturday, fans saw what could have been the game-winner to Corey Fuller. That’s a clutch throw made by a great player. When he has time to throw, he’s as good as anyone in the country.

3. Losing senior D.J. Coles at receiver was a bigger loss than many probably had expected. It starts with his toughness. Dyrell Roberts and Marcus Davis are good players, but they don’t bring the same edge when it comes to blocking. That hasn’t helped the run game. Virginia Tech is missing a physical receiver like former receivers Danny Coale or Jarrett Boykin to really lower his shoulder and block. Virginia Tech would have had some long runs this year if there would have been a receiver downfield to make the block.

4. There’s not enough leadership. Coale and Boykin are sorely missed. Coale was one player who would stand up and say what needed to be said. That player hasn’t emerged on this roster.

5. The coaching staff needs to impart discipline. Lining up correctly shouldn’t be a problem. There have been too many foolish mistakes like pre-snap penalties because the players are lining up the wrong way, too many turnovers and false starts. The staff needs to make sure the players are more disciplined and careful with the ball.

The slow starts on offense have been a hot topic this week, and coach Frank Beamer is the one who brought it up on Monday’s weekly teleconference. It’s a valid concern, and there’s no question Virginia Tech’s staff and players need to do a better job. The staff’s game-planning is not the problem. They spend countless hours each week scripting plays for game situations on third and fourth downs, etc. That changes, though, when Virginia Tech’s field position starts at their own 12-, three- and eight-yard line like they did against Cincinnati. Coaches aren’t going to call the same plays when they’re backed up to the end zone like that. It's up to them, though, to put the players in position to succeed.

Beamer said he and the staff addressed the Hokies’ slow starts “in great detail” but declined to go into specifics.

"We're going to keep it within our staff and try to do better this week," Beamer said.

Offensive coordinator Bryan Stinespring has received the brunt of fans’ wrath – as he always does – but this year, there are just as many questions on the field as there are about the playbook.

Video: Virginia Tech OC Bryan Stinespring

January, 3, 2012
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ESPN.com ACC blogger Heather Dinich talks with Virginia Tech OC Bryan Stinespring about their matchup with Michigan.

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