Friday Q&A: October 29, 2010

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Raleigh Hokie and Phil Martin join us for a Friday Q&A this week.
We gave them three simple topics to discuss: their thoughts on the VT offense
thus far, their thoughts on the Tech defense, and what they think about the
upcoming Thursday night game with Georgia Tech.

1) What are your thoughts on the offense so far?

Raleigh Hokie: In a word … surprising. With excellent skill players, a
lot of experience and high octane performances during fall camp, it was very
surprising when the offense stumbled out of the gate. Things have turned around
the last few games, but how they have done it has been almost as surprising.

It is clear that the offense wanted to come out running the ball, utilizing
the strengths of the three tailbacks. There were a lot of plays run from tight
formations – fullback personnel, straight I formations, power inside running
game. The idea was to run the ball and run the ball some more. Establish the run
with Williams, Evans, and Wilson and then get the ball down the field in the
passing game on big plays from Taylor to the WR’s. The extra dimension was
freeing up Taylor to run the ball more, especially if defenses matched up in

Sounded reasonable, but it didn’t work because the running game did not
dominate as expected. The offensive line could not get in sync and was unable to
establish control of the line of scrimmage. Defenses aligned precisely to defend
what the offense was trying to do – they shallowed the safeties, pinched LB’s
off the slot, and manned up on the outside receivers to disrupt releases down
the field.

So early on, my opinion is that the offense lined up to do X, and the
defenses lined up to stop X. And the defenses won most of those battles in the
first few games.

Jumping ahead, the offense is now performing much better. Good rhythm,
excellent execution, and a lot of big plays. All of that despite losing one of
its best playmakers in Game 3. How did that happen? From what I’ve seen, it is
apparent that Bryan Stinespring stepped back and initiated some fundamental
changes to attack the way defenses were aligning and defending. Now we are
seeing fewer plays from traditional power running formations and more plays from
spread/shotgun formations. More zone read plays and more speed option from the
shotgun – not as much power