Virginia Tech Football: Grading Each Unit, Spring Edition
The Hokies had their first open scrimmage on Saturday and for those of you that watched it, you know that one unit will grade out a lot better than the other. For those of you that didn’t see it, then let’s just say that the offense could use a little more work.
The only good takeaway from this first scrimmage is that the normally predictable offense of offensive coordinator Bryan Stinespring has added the wrinkle of the pistol.
Other than that lone revelation, the defense dominated the game.
The defense ran circles around the offense, but it isn’t time to sound the alarms yet. Growing pains are to be expected after losing four starting offensive linemen, two starting receivers and an All-American running back. If this continues until the spring game, then it will be time to worry.
Being that this was the first chance the public was allowed to see the 2012 Virginia Tech football team, the following unit grades are taken from this scrimmage alone.
The four quarterbacks only completed 13 of 34 passes. As a group they threw two interceptions and one touchdown (thrown by third-string QB Trey Gresh).
Logan Thomas was only able to complete 3 of 12 passes. It didn’t help that all four quarterbacks were running for their lives all day (but more on that later).
Running Backs: D
The two running backs competing for the starting job didn’t have a good day either.
J.C. Coleman ran the ball six times but only totaled 14 yards. Michael Holmes ran the ball four times for eight yards.
A lot of this comes from the fact that the offensive line couldn’t open up holes for the running backs, but as of the first scrimmage it appears that both Holmes and Coleman have a lot to improve upon.
Wide Receivers: C
The receivers were the best unit the offense had on the field (that isn’t saying much).
Marcus Davis was the only starting receiver to catch a pass. He caught three of them for 56 yards.
The receivers as a unit had problems with drops on Saturday, but that was the only real drawback on the day. In a scrimmage, where the offense couldn’t move the ball, the receivers were the only real threat to defensive coordinator Bud Foster’s defense.
Offensive Line: F
The offensive line had a rough day; it wasn't opening up holes for the running backs and couldn’t protect the quarterback.
The line gave up 11 sacks and is an inexperienced group, but 11 is still quite a number.
It didn’t help that the defense was already blitzing, but that is how the Hokies' coaching staff wants it. Start with blitzes and then use mistakes to teach. The lone lesson the public learned from the scrimmage is that the line still has a lot to learn.
Defensive Line: A
Now it’s time to talk about the units that looked like a seasoned and veteran group. The defensive line had a great day.
Luther Maddy and James Gayle were the standouts of this unit. Maddy had 1.5 sacks, while Gayle had a half sack and two quarterback hurries.
The line was dominant in the scrimmage and if it can continue to grow as a unit, then it could become formidable this season.
The linebackers had a great scrimmage, but Alonzo Tweedy stole the show. Tweedy had eight tackles, 2.5 of those were for a loss, and for good measure he added 1.5 sacks.
However, Tweedy wasn’t the only linebacker flexing his muscle against the offense. Ronny Vandyke had two tackles and one interception.
The linebackers appear ready to take the next step and become dominant, and what’s scary is that they aren’t even healthy yet.
This unit is only returning one starter at the same position they played last season (Kyle Fuller), but it still looked like the stingy pass coverage that the Hokies have become known for.
Fuller had an excellent day; he had one interception and one pass breakup, but what had fans buzzing was what he did with his pick. He ran it back for a 51-yard touchdown. True freshman Donaldven Manning also stood out as he had three tackles (one for loss) and a sack.
If the entire defense continues to be this dominant, then this could be one of the best defenses that Bud Foster has ever had.