Spring practice begins for the Virginia Tech Hokies on Wednesday, March 27. That is just under three weeks away until we get our first look, or first reports, about this year’s team. Generally you can take any report with a grain of salt. Fans will hear about how one player is in the best shape of his life while another is really taking to his new position well.
It’s OK, folks; at least we are talking about football.
We can now put all recruiting talk in the rear-view mirror and focus on how new offensive coordinator Scot Loeffler is implementing his offense. Or which receivers will Logan Thomas throw to.
Earlier in the week we took a look at three concerns facing the Hokies as spring practice nears. Now, we are going to review three things that Hokies fans should be excited for.
Nine starters return from a unit that finished No. 18 overall in total defense in 2012.
The Hokies finished with 35 sacks last year, but the majority of those came in the last seven games. This group got much better as the season wore on and the defensive line got healthier.
Senior defensive end James Gayle is one of the best pass-rushers in the country and could have a monster season. Senior linebacker Jack Tyler is one of the more underrated players at his position in all of college football.
The entire starting secondary returns, however, senior cornerback Antone Exum tore his ACL in late-January and his availability for the season opener will be in question all summer. The Hokies should have more depth in the secondary in 2013 with the arrival of freshman sensation Kendall Fuller at cornerback.
There are a host of other talented players on this defense including defensive tackle Luther Maddy, safety Kyshoen Jarrett and cornerback Kyle Fuller, Kendall's older brother.
This group should be far ahead of the offense in the spring, and the defensive coordinator Bud Foster's goal will be to develop some of those younger defensive backs.
While much of the talk is focused on Loeffler’s appointment as offensive coordinator, and rightfully so, perhaps the most important hire was Jeff Grimes as the team’s new offensive line coach.
In his introductory press conference in January, Grimes said his goal was "developing the toughest line in the ACC." (h/t Roanoke.com)
That was music to the ears of all Hokie fans. The Hokies' rise to prominence in the 90s was built on strong offensive line play, something they've lacked as a whole in recent years.
The Hokies have some talented players along the offensive line and Grimes will not be playing any favorites. He appears to be the type of coach who will stress competition at every position. If a walk-on is performing better than a 5-star recruit, Grimes won't be afraid to play the walk-on.
Head coach Frank Beamer received some big news in January when senior quarterback Logan Thomas opted to return to school for his senior season.
Thomas was uneven at best in 2012, but the team's woes on offense weren't entirely his fault.
The running game never found the consistency Beamer expected and it affected the passing game. The offensive line was a mess and it didn't help with the constant rotation of the interior linemen.
The spring is important for Thomas as he will need to get a good grasp on new offensive coordinator Scot Loeffler's offense. One thing Loeffler will focus on is not having Thomas carry the football as much as he did last season.
If Thomas gets solid production from the running game, he will be just fine. He has everything you look for in a quarterback and is entering his third season as the starter. Loeffler understands what he has in Thomas and will build the offense around him.