Friday Q&A: Season Expecations

1) Any update on Thomas Smith ? Will he be in Blacksburg this summer? If so, how does he figure into the WR rotation?

Chris Coleman: There is no word at this point.  As with most guys, there will be no word until he gets through the admissions process.  I believe he’s been taking classes at a community college, and he knew exactly what he needed to accomplish from a credits standpoint when he got there.  If he took the right classes and passed them all, then he shouldn’t have a problem with the admissions department.

If he gets through the admissions process quickly, then he could enroll for summer school.  If it doesn’t go quickly, or if the NCAA Clearinghouse drags their feet, then things might not get settled until the second summer session begins in July.

I always have a policy to not expect anything of true freshmen who had trouble qualifying.  Making the adjustment to college can be difficult for a regular student.  It can be even harder for a football player.  He has to adjust socially like everyone else.  He has to handle the rigors of football.  And of course, he has to keep his grades up.  That can be hard for those guys who had trouble qualifying out of high school, or in Smith’s case, did not qualify out of high school.

Smith has excellent size, and I think he’s a very good prospect for the Hokies.  However, I think he should redshirt like most other freshmen as he adjusts to college football, college classes and college life.

Scot Loeffler

2) Are you more or less confident about the 2013 season than you were before spring football? What things during spring ball changed those expectations?

CC: That’s a good question, and it’s a topic I discussed on The Best Seat in the House with Jay James last night.  I think a lot of people try to base their predictions for the upcoming season off of what they see in spring practice.  I’m as guilty of that as anyone.  In some years, it’s doable.  In other years, it’s not.

To answer your question, I’m no more or less confident in the 2013 season after the spring than I was before the spring.  The defense looked like I expected them to look.  Cody Journell and A.J. Hughes both looked solid, which I expected.  I had no idea what to expect from the offense.  Logan Thomas improved steadily (until the Spring Game, which is the one time fans got to see him play), so that was a good sign.  But there are still many issues for the offense to solve.

I’m still not making a judgment on the offense because of the limited amount of the playbook they have installed, particularly in the running game.  The Tech defense really shut down the run this spring, but when you face the same 2-3 plays each day in practice, you should know exactly what’s coming by the time that 15th practice rolls around.  That’s one reason the defense had such an advantage over the offense this spring.

I am a little bit concerned about how quickly the offensive line (and perhaps the tight ends as well) are picking things up.  From what I could tell, Tech didn’t really expand their running game any during the course of the spring.  I knew they would start small and steadily build up, but they didn’t appear to add much, if any, to their running package from the beginning of the spring to the end of the spring.  There could be several reasons why:

A) Jeff Grimes wanted 15 full practices to evaluate his linemen in the simplest form possible.

B) The offensive linemen are struggling to pick up the technique required by the new blocking scheme.

C) The offensive linemen are struggling mentally with what to do and who to block.

The first reason would be understandable.  It would be very disconcerting if the third reason is why the running game playbook didn’t expand very much.  Tech appeared to be running simple left and right zone plays during the spring, and those plays in basic form are something I learned in the 10th grade, and you don’t have to be a rocket scientist to pick them up.  If Tech’s offensive linemen are struggling with them mentally, then that’s a bad