Q&A With Bryan Stinespring (From Chris Colston’s Hokie Football Annual 2010)

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WHAT IS CHRIS COLSTON’S HOKIE FOOTBALL ANNUAL?

The premier Hokie Football Annual is unlike anything you’ve seen
before.

Think of it as a media guide with personality, packed with full-color
photos and unique information. When you see it for the first time, you
will be blown away. No ads, just 112 pages of 100% Hokie football.

At 8.5" X 11" and over three-quarters of pound in weight,
it’s hefty and durable. It needs to be, since it has features you’ll
devour prior to the season. It’s also a guide you will want to reference
all year–and a commemorative you’ll want to keep for years to come.

While it features commentary by "The Voice of the Hokies,"
Bill Roth, this is no athletics department PR piece. “The Annual” is
not officially affiliated with Virginia Tech, although it has strong ties
inside the department. It’s an independent publication by Tech fans, for
Tech fans.

For
more information, and to order a copy, click here.

Bryan Stinespring enters his 18th year as a full-time member of Virginia Tech’s
coaching staff and ninth as offensive coordinator. The Clifton Forge native and
father of four sat down with the Hokie Football Annual 2010 to talk Tech
football.

HOKIE ANNUAL: Every offseason you make junkets in an effort to improve
the offense. You’ve visited schools such as Nebraska and West Virginia and the
NFL’s Indianapolis Colts, among others. How has that helped you?

BRYAN STINESPRING: Any option that we run is basically some version of
what Nebraska ran back in the day with Tommie Frazier and Timmy Crouch. I’d
say 75% of our play-action passing game is straight-up Indianapolis Colts, after
three straight years of visiting them. The nuances of it fit in with our running
game perfectly. Last year we went to West Virginia for some of its spread
offense.

HA: Although your offense is described as “multiple.”

BS: That’s just because we’re not in a shotgun formation for every
play. Soon as your quarterback gets under center once, they say you’re no
longer a spread offense.

HA: And this year Ohio State came to Blacksburg.

BS: We both examined how to best handle a (multidimensional) quarterback.
We have Tyrod Taylor, the Buckeyes have Terrelle Pryor. How much are you
thinking of him as an additional ball-carrier? It was kind of ironic that both
teams had such a definitive difference between their one and two quarterbacks
last year. So both teams cut down their quarterbacks’ number of carries
dramatically. They’re going to get hit anyway; you could not call a single
running play for them, and they’d pull it down and run it five times by their
own choosing. But most of the time they’re not running inside where there are
a bunch of big guys.

HA: Former Tech assistant Kevin Rogers also visited you this spring. He
was here from 2002-05 before leaving to become the Minnesota Vikings’
quarterbacks coach.

BS: We had been planning that for over a year. Kevin and our offensive
staff holed up from 8 a.m. to 6 p.m. for two consecutive days and halfway
through the next day. It was probably the best three days we’ve ever spent.
Kevin understands our philosophy, the ins-and-outs of the system here at
Virginia Tech. And being in the NFL since 2006, he’s accrued additional
information. We talked about the things they do that work within our system. It
was great because Kevin and I think alike. We both want a balanced attack. So we
didn’t put Billy Hite to sleep by just talking about the passing game the
whole time.

HA: What is that core offensive philosophy at Virginia Tech?

BS: There hasn’t been a defensive coordinator in America who sits down
on Sunday morning and says, ‘We’ve got to stop the pass.’ It’s not their
mindset, their demeanor or their attitude. I don’t care if you’re playing
Texas Tech; they want to stop the run and make everybody one-dimensional. We’re
going to do our best to make sure nobody makes us one-dimensional.

So we want to be able to run the ball effectively, but be balanced, where the
run sets up the pass and the pass sets up the run. When you can do both well and
be unpredictable.

HA: And with Kevin, you could be more open with him than, say, the
Buckeyes staff.

BS: When someone visits us, they’re told three-quarters of what they
need to know. Teams study film; there aren’t a lot of secrets. But there’s
25% you’re not going to share, because there are no guarantees you we don’t
play Ohio State (in a bowl game). (Then-coach) Frank Solich almost put the
brakes on our visits to Nebraska because of that. In the back of your mind, it’s
always an issue.

Another concern is when you visit with schools in February, right after
recruiting, all of a sudden there are some staff changes. A guy you’ve been
visiting with, all of a sudden he’s at a school you play.

HA: With so much talent this year, do you feel the temptation to try to
do too much?

BS: If you’re not careful, you can be a jack-of-all-trades and a master
of none. Ideally you will have enough in your toolbox to constantly give
different looks without changing your core concept. So you try, within your
system, to window-dress it. You run versions of what you run, but give it to the
defense in a multitude of different looks. That’s what we did in the second
half against Tennessee, when we ran it (eight) consecutive times. I think 80% of
those were the same run, out of different looks.

HA: That might’ve been the most impressive drive of the season.

BS: We scripted it at halftime. We had one gun counter than Ryan
(Williams) busted for a long deal, and the rest was an inside zone, smash mouth.
But each play had different motions, fakes, looks. You try to be
multi-dimensional, without taking away the ability for your team to play fast.

HA: You look very relaxed. This has to be a good time for you after all
the criticism, with the message boards and all.

BS: For three years we’ve had to grind. We had to grind because we went
into three falls with either not knowing who are offensive line was going to be,
or breaking in a new set of receivers, or what we’re doing at quarterback, or
what we’re doing at tailback. To go into August 17, 18, 19 and still have
those issues, what I’m most proud of—whatever we were ranked those years—110,
103, I should know by heart because I get reminded of them all the time—I’m
probably as proud of the coaching staff because there’s not a team we played
in the last six games of those years that thought they played the 99th offense.

HA: You don’t have those big personnel questions this year.

BS: We have fewer questions for the first time in four years. There is
talent. We have tremendous depth at tailback. We have great possibilities at
receiver. There are some playmakers out there. The difference, though, when you
break it all down, is that we’re not going into mid-August trying to find
answers.

About
Chris Colston:
An 11-year veteran of the Virginia Tech athletics
department as editor of The Hokie Huddler, Chris Colston (Marketing
1981) has written four books on Tech football. (Virginia Tech Vault
– 2009; Virginia Tech Sideline – 2003; Turn Up the Wick!
2000; The Hokies Handbook – 1996). Colston covered the NFL and NBA
for USA TODAY from January 2006-December 2009. From 1996-2005 he
served as a writer and editor for USA TODAY Sports Weekly. Colston
has won numerous awards and has done one-on-one interviews with some of
the biggest names in sports, such as Peyton Manning, Kobe Bryant, and
LeBron James. For information on all of Colston’s projects, follow him on
Twitter: @chriscolston.
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