Defense Plays Fast in First Scrimmage

Virginia Tech held an open scrimmage on Saturday afternoon in Lane Stadium, and the defense spent most of the afternoon completely dominating Tech’s #2 and #3 offenses at the line of scrimmage.

Even with no Antoine Hopkins, Bruce Taylor or Tariq Edwards in the front seven, the starting defense wreaked havoc up front with Tech’s backup offense.  The Hokie defense was fast and physical.

GMSAHokie will have more on the Tech offensive line later this week, but here are a few observations from me on the battle between the offensive line and the defensive line.

  • There is a big dropoff from the first unit to the second unit on the offensive line, as expected.
  • Vinston Painter looks good.  He got beat by James Gayle once, but a lot of people get beat by James Gayle .  Gayle vs. Jake Goins isn’t fair.  Poor Mark Leal had no chance to complete passes against the #1 defense.
  • Dadi Nicholas ran with the #3 defense, and he completely dominated at least one series single handedly.  Tech’s #3 offensive line couldn’t handle him.  He had two sacks, and numerous other pressures that forced early throws.
  • Justin Taylor completely abused Nick Acree on one play.  Acree works hard, but I just don’t think he’s a Division 1-A player.
  • Tech’s #1 offensive line did fine.  They went up against the #2 defense for most of the day, but they also had a series or two against the starting defense and they held their own.
  • Kris Harley is out of shape.  He’s listed at 283 on the roster, but it’s not a good 283.  He’s not in shape, and he got embarrassed on one play when Martin Scales stiff armed him to the ground in the open field.

Again, GMSAHokie will have more this week.  But for now, I like Tech’s starting group up front, while the depth behind them is very questionable.  I’ll feel better when Michael Via gets back from his injury.

Tech ran primarily from the pistol formation today.  That’s a big part of their offense this spring, and I can think of a couple of reasons.  First and foremost, it’s a more balanced formation and it doesn’t give away which side of the field the option play is going.  Second, it’s basically an extended I-formation/ACE formation, with the quarterback in the backfield instead of under center.  The Hokies can run their full option playbook from that formation, and they can also run a power running game up the middle.  It gives them flexibility in the running game.

It was obvious that the Tech offense is trying to employ a faster tempo this year as well.  They didn’t  run any no-huddle, but they were in and out of the huddle quickly, and they huddled just five yards behind the line of scrimmage so they can get back to the line quickly after making the play call in the huddle.

Martin Scales
Martin Scales stiffarms Kris Harley

I’m became a bigger fan of Martin Scales after Saturday’s scrimmage.  He led the Hokies with four carries for 26 yards.  Besides the big stiff arm on Kris Harley , he also had a few nice runs up the middle when he drug tacklers several yards down the field.  Scales is 5-11, 226 and he has tree trunks for legs.  He’s a very powerful back when getting an inside handoff from deep in the pistol formation.  It gives him about seven yards to get up to steam before he gets to the line of scrimmage.

Tech’s timing was off in the passing game, which is something we warned about because of all the new receivers.  Mark Leal threw an interception for a touchdown to Kyle Fuller while getting harassed (it was not Logan Thomas who threw the pick, as the article indicates).  There was also a miscommunication with the wide receiver on that play, which led to the short throw and