2012 Spring Practice Review

I’d like to begin by going on record that by far my biggest disappointment of the spring was the cancellation of the Spring Game.  Obviously, this was no one’s fault, but I was bummed out anyway.  I really get into the Spring Game and I was looking forward to watching the 1st team offense compete against the 2nd team defense in a true “game-like” environment in Lane Stadium in front of 40,000 fans.

I really believe that the offense was starting to click a little bit and the Spring Game provided the perfect venue for those guys to turn it on and hit some big plays.  In particular, I was looking for a big day from Michael Holmes .  I wasn’t really looking for the 2nd team offense to do much, particularly with Mark Leal out, but it would have been fun to see if the 2nd offensive line could make some strides against a really talented defensive line.

Oh well, it was not meant to be, and the Hokies’ coaching staff accomplished their primary objective for the Spring Game regardless as they reeled in a number of big time recruits, including the top QB on their board and top offensive linemen in the state.  Both of these were positions of major need for this class.

Overall, I have to say that I am pretty pleased with the results of spring practice and the strides that were made.  The offense came out and looked crisp and well disciplined, getting in and out of the huddle.  They played fast and with a sense of urgency.  This type of scrimmage discipline and pace is fairly new for the VT offense, only going back the last three years or so that I have noticed.  In previous years, I remember watching the scrimmages and seeing what I thought was a totally different tempo and intensity from the defense in practice than the offense.  Not so the last few years.  The defense looked great, as always.  Those guys really bring high levels of energy & enthusiasm, and it starts with their coaches.  Foster’s coaches are always the loudest and most vocal guys out there, and the addition of Cornell Brown has only added to that element.

Torrian Gray

Of course, nobody out there is more fun to watch at practice than Torrian Gray .  I encourage anyone who has never attended an open Tech scrimmage to come on out and enjoy the Torrian Gray show.  He storms around on the field in the deep secondary and immediately celebrates or excoriates the results of passing plays, depending on how his guys play pass defense.  He will throw his hat in furious disgust, or do a running, jumping hip bump with one of the players, depending on the situation.  He has been known to throw himself down on the field in a prone position, lying flat on his back in disbelief when one of his guys makes a great play but gets an unlucky bounce.  Probably my favorite Coach Gray “practice move”, though, is watching him race down the field trailing one of his players who is sprinting towards the end zone with a Pick 6 in his hands.  Gray can still flat out run, by the way.  He celebrates defensive touchdowns like he is one of the 11 guys out on the field and his enthusiasm is infectious.  As a coach, he scolds, motivates, celebrates and educates with equal aplomb and is a joy to watch out there.  His players love him and it’s pretty easy to see why he gets max effort and outstanding results.

Sorry, I got a little off track with my observations about Coach Gray.  Let me get back to the point of the article: my overall observations about the spring practice season for the Hokies.  First off, I am going to begin with some pleasant surprises and give out some accolades.

Spring Positives

Exum Excels at Boundary & Secondary Looks Great – I mentioned in one of the pre-Spring practice Q&A articles that I didn’t just “like” the move of Antone Exum to boundary corner – I loved it!  And, ‘Tone did not disappoint.  He was a fierce competitor on the boundary all spring long.  He didn’t really get much of an opportunity to go up against Tech’s elite WR’s out there in man coverage, as Coles was hurt all spring and Davis was nursing a hammy at the end, BUT