2011 Hokie Football Annual: Roundtable with Chris Colston, Darryl Slater and Chris Coleman

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Because of its independent status, the Hokie Football Annual is
uniquely qualified to bring readers a feature they’ll find in no other print
publication: The Round Table.

Technically this year’s installment should be called the Rectangular Table,
since HFA publisher Chris Colston held it in a booth inside the cozy catacombs
of Greeks Cellar (great Spanakopita and meatball subs) in downtown Blacksburg.

Last year’s Round Table featured Kyle Tucker of the Virginian-Pilot
and Will Stewart of TechSideline.com. Colston’s aim is to get as many
voices as possible in the HFA through the years, so this season he features
experts Darryl Slater of the Richmond Times-Dispatch and TechSideline.com
managing editor Chris Coleman.

Following are excerpts from the HFA, which makes a great Father’s Day gift
(hint, hint) and also is the perfect beach read. TechSideline.com readers get a
special: 20% off the list price.
This year’s HFA is bigger and better than last year’s. It’s 128 full-color pages with more features, particularly ones you’ll find in no other print magazine. Things like:

  • Recruiting Analysis with experts
  • Examining the state of the program
  • 10 Things You’ll Never Hear at a Tech Tailgate
  • 25 Rules for True Tech Fans
  • Ranking the Hokie Football Uniforms
  • David Wilson’s parents talking about what he was like as a child
  • Interviews with Tech legends Bruce Smith, Jim Pyne and Tyrod Taylor
  • John Moody’s All-Time Tech Team
  • Jud Dunlevy’s 2007 Rewind

.. and much, much more. If you love TSL, then you’ll love the HFA.


Here we go:

CHRIS COLSTON: What does Frank Beamer’s shakeup of his coaching staff (see
State of the Program, pgs. 3-9) tell you?

CHRIS COLEMAN: He made these changes to get better at recruiting, because he
knows he can’t win a national championship unless he gets better players. It
really makes me happy to see him going for it.

When Bryan Stinespring is one of your best recruiters, you need him in the
more fertile areas. To do that, you have to free him up with some of his
responsibilities. I really like getting him back into south Hampton Roads. With
Mike O’Cain, you have an experienced play-caller, and he wasn’t much of a
recruiter. As a head coach, Frank Beamer was faced with making the pieces in the
puzzle fit, and that’s what he did.

COLSTON: How different will the offense be, with Mike O’Cain calling the

SLATER: Mike himself has said this might be an opportunity to break some
tendencies opponents have noticed after one guy has called the plays for eight
years. Being the honest guy he is, that’s a very fair assessment. But I don’t
think it will necessarily be different because he’s calling the plays; it will
be different because Logan Thomas is the quarterback.

Physically, they might run the ball more with him, because he’s bigger and
potentially more durable. I imagine his understanding of the passing game isn’t
as evolved as Tyrod Taylor’s the last two years, so maybe they let him rely on
his athleticism a little more.

COLEMAN: At 6-6, Thomas will be able to see over the pocket and complete
those quick slants against a blitzing defense. Virginia Tech hasn’t been able
to do that because it had a six-foot quarterback.

In recent years Kansas, Nebraska and Stanford all rushed their ends and
outside linebackers straight up the field to keep Tyrod Taylor in the pocket and
then they blitzed their inside linebackers into the A-gaps right up the middle
where he has no field vision to show the short passes. That limits you to a deep
passing game, and by the time your receiver is turning around 20 yards
downfield, your quarterback is getting sacked. Those limitations will not be
there with Logan Thomas.

COLSTON: Frank Beamer has also said he’d like to see more screen passes. I’d
love to see David Wilson on a screen, in the open field, with some blockers in
front of him.

COLEMAN: I think O’Cain can make it happen. Tech fans underrate him. He did
a good job with Tyrod and I think he’ll do a good job with Logan Thomas. I don’t
think he’ll be ACC Player of the Year, but he should be solid. He has the
physical ability to one day be an NFL quarterback.

SLATER: One thing O’Cain mentioned toward the end of last year was that
Logan Thomas can make all the throws and is farther along than Tyrod was as a
sophomore, both physically and mentally. Remember they had to play Tyrod without
a redshirt year; they had to really simplify their offense. The past two years,
Logan was able to sit in quarterback meetings when there were more complex
things going on. By osmosis he’s been able to absorb a more complex offense
than what Tyrod Taylor was being force-fed as a freshman and sophomore. So while
you might see the offense simplified a little more, it won’t be to the point
it was for Tyrod his first two years.

COLSTON: What impact has Mike London had on the Tech-UVA rivalry?

SLATER: It makes the game more interesting, because a lot of Tech fans see
him as a threat in recruiting. But at this point, it’s not that much of a
rivalry to me. Other games are bigger.

COLEMAN: I read recruiting interviews every day. No matter who the coach is –
you go back to Al Groh- a kid will say, “Coach (Blank) is going to turn the
program around.” That’s the message they’re told and that’s what they
believe, because they’re 17 and naive. Al Groh got some big-time recruits in
his first couple of classes, causing many Tech fans to panic. And guess what –
Darryl Tapp DID turn out to be better than Ahmad Brooks. Vince Hall DID turn out
to be better than Kai Parham. Mike Imoh DID turn out to be better than Michael

COLSTON: The Hokies always say, there are some players who are just Tech
guys, and some are UVA guys.

COLEMAN: And I’m not sure Virginia did out-recruit Tech this year. Going by
the Rivals star ratings, Tech’s average was 3.05. Virginia was 3.04. In the
state, UVA got five guys that Tech offered. Tech got seven that UVA offered.
Demetrious Nicholson grew up as a Tech fan, but he wanted guaranteed playing
time as a true freshman. Tech couldn’t guarantee that.

COLSTON: Nicholson (Bayside) is from Virginia Beach- the key 757 area code-
many believe Tech could’ve done better in recruiting this year.

COLEMAN: I consider Virginia Beach to be Virginia Tech territory, from all
those years Stinespring cleaned up. Tech offered six or seven guys from that
region and landed one of them, Dewayne Alford, who had offers from Old Dominion
and James Madison. The others went to Virginia and North Carolina. So I’m
angry at UVA and UNC right now.

SLATER: To me, North Carolina is now a bigger rivalry. Not just the
recruiting aspect, but they came into Lane Stadium on Thursday night in 2009 and
gave Tech a heartbreaking loss. Boston College was a nice little rivalry for a
while. And you look at Georgia Tech, how that’s heated up. They had the
blocking controversy in 2008, the games have all been competitive, and the
stakes have been high. Those two teams are generally playing for the Coastal
Division title.

COLSTON: I believe for the players, Miami is the biggest game. But no team
affects Virginia Tech’s overall program more than Virginia, and I would think
vice versa. I believe with these coaching moves, Frank Beamer is sending a
message to Mike London: “All right, palsie, game on.”

This is about one-third of the Round Table. For the complete discussion, and
the panel’s game-by-game predictions, please see the 2011 Hokie Football
Annual. TSL readers get 20% off, for the Father’s Day Special price of $11.99.

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