Virginia Tech Camp Report

Many of you may have missed a thread that B-street started on the message boards recently asking the community to contribute what they have learned about the Hokie football team as they close out the Fall camp and get ready for Georgia Tech this coming Monday night.  I thought that was a great idea for a thread and I found that my answer was so long and detailed, that it should be an article.  Plus, I owe Coleman a Scrimmage Report article and it seems like the scrimmages were too long ago to write any meaningful articles about them now, so why not just make it a Fall Camp wrap-up article and include some of my observations from the scrimmages?  Perfect slacker solution!  Here goes:

The Offensive Line is Legit (I think

Let me start off by saying that I am the very first person to temper my enthusiasm for how a team, an individual, or a unit plays in practice versus how they are likely to play in a game.  After all, there are numerous factors that go into how a player or group of players practice that can cover up those same players’ weaknesses.  Undoubtedly, those weaknesses will then be exploited in game situations and one will think “What the heck happened here?”

Let me give you some examples: oftentimes the pace and intensity of practices will be a tick or two lower than the players will experience in game situations.  Or, players will get more snaps in practice going against 2nd teamers than they will against 1st teamers, whereas in a game, players are likely to face the other team’s best possible product almost exclusively.  And, in the case of an offensive line, those guys don’t necessary face a constant array of multiple blitzes and shifting formations in practice that they likely see in a real game.  Make no mistake, they do get some of those blitzes and multiple looks, and those guys are up to their ears in it this week as they prepare for Georgia Tech, but keep in mind that they are getting most of that from the scout team right now…not exactly the equivalent of the athletic challenge they will get when they line up on Monday.

Vinston Painter can block in space. Kyshoen Jarrett found out the hard way.

So, having said all of that, I am starting to get a little carried away when it comes to the 2012 version of the Hokie offensive line!  In particular, I am really excited about the play of Vinston Painter , Nick Becton , and David Wang Andrew Miller is very solid and is an obvious talent, but he is a known commodity at this point.  The flexibility that Becton and Painter bring to the running game ought to have every Hokie fan pretty excited.  Here are two big, bruising tackles who can really move their feet.  Anytime you have a tackle who can move his feet well, you have the opportunity to get great leverage outside and thereby great push in the running game.  This really helps the Hokies establish their inside and outside zone running attack.  Not to mention that both of these guys have tremendous foot speed and power, which makes them ideal lead blockers for screen passes to the running backs.

Equally important is having athletic and quick Guards (like Wang) who fire off the ball and use great technique to block down lineman and then get to the second level.  Benedict struggles a little bit when it comes to beating defensive linemen and then getting free to block down on linebackers and safeties down the field.  It’ll be interesting to see if Via can provide the Hokies a more athletic option at the guard position.  I believe, as Chris indicated previously, that the coaching staff is looking at Via to provide a more athletic option at guard in order to scheme the running game away from the GT nose tackle (T.J. Barnes, 6-7, 345).  Once you get him running in pursuit, you can start to call some misdirection plays and get in behind him for big gains.  Even if Via does win the starting job for the GT game, you can expect to see plenty of Brent Benedict in short yardage & goal line situations, and he is obviously a more than capable player who can spell Via or allow Via to get snaps