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Virginia Tech Football: Is the Pistol the Answer?

NEW ORLEANS, LA - JANUARY 03:  Logan Thomas #3 of the Virginia Tech Hokies warms up as head coach Frank Beamer watches during warm ups against the Michigan Wolverines during the Allstate Sugar Bowl at Mercedes-Benz Superdome on January 3, 2012 in New Orleans, Louisiana.  (Photo by Chris Graythen/Getty Images)
Chris Graythen/Getty Images
Ryan McCartCorrespondent IIIApril 29, 2012

Virginia Tech’s offense has had one real weakness over the last decade or so—predictability.

For years now, fans have begged for offensive coordinator Bryan Stinespring to change things up and move away from the norm. It seems that the offensive play-calling under Stinespring has gone one of two ways. The first option is a deep throw on first down, run on second down and a pass on third down. The second is a run on first and second down followed by a pass on third down.

It's a lot easier to play defense when you know what's coming, and for years, Virginia Tech’s opponents had a good idea about what they were facing. Frank Beamer took a big step last year by removing Stinespring as the play-caller and replacing him with quarterbacks coach Mike O’Cain. It appears that the offense is about to take another big leap as the Hokies were practicing the pistol formation throughout spring practice.

The pistol is a wrinkle in which the quarterback lines up in a short shotgun with the running back lining up directly behind him. The pistol isn’t as widely used as it once was, but there are still a few programs throughout the country that still use it. Using the pistol would provide an advantage to the Hokies simply because it's an unpredictable move for a historically predictable unit.

It's still unclear whether or not the pistol will be used on a regular basis in 2012, but there's hope because of the quarterback on the field. Logan Thomas showed a lot of growth and poise in the pocket during his first year as the Hokies’ starting quarterback. His dual-threat ability would work well in the pistol. He has the arm strength and the speed to make the pistol work.

Unfortunately, it's reasonable to believe that this will be the last season that fans can see Logan Thomas in maroon and orange. That doesn’t mean that the pistol won’t be a part of the offense further into the future. On the same day that the maroon and white game was cancelled due to thunderstorms, the Hokies received a commitment from Bucky Hodges who's considered one of the best dual-threat quarterbacks in the country.

Hodges is built like Thomas, and if he can show himself to be almost as good as Thomas, then fans could see the pistol for years to come. Fans shouldn’t expect the pistol to work perfectly at the beginning of the season, there will be growing pains, but with some work, the pistol could become a major offensive weapon for the Hokies.

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