Spring Game Week for Virginia Tech

How will Logan Thomas look in Saturday's Spring Game?
How will Logan Thomas look in Saturday’s Spring Game?

Happy Spring Game Week Hokie fans! This edition of the VT Beat will primarily focus on football and keep you up to date with the happenings in and around Virginia Tech sports. Spring game week is great for many reasons:

1. The weather is usually shifting for the better (in Blacksburg it’s been miserably cold for about 7 months)

2. You get to watch live football plays in April

3. You get to tailgate.

4. Its usually the 1st time of the year you get to crank “Enter Sandman” with your windows down. Who here doesn’t get goose bumps the first time they do that every year?

5.) You probably get the best seat in Lane Stadium that you will ever get. At least if Jim Weaver has anything to say about it.

As many of you probably know, the Spring game scrimmage will be held this Saturday at Lane Stadium. Here are a few things I am interested to see in the scrimmage:

Logan Thomas: The season will likely go as he goes. Has his short yardage passing accuracy improved? Watch his throws between 5-15 yards and especially throws from the pocket to receivers outside of the hash marks. Is he hitting them in the chest and/or in stride? Or is he still throwing the ball everywhere but there, like he did last year. What about his decision making? Is he feeling the pocket collapsing? Is he stepping up in the pocket? What about going through his progressions in the proper order? Look folks, we expect a lot out of our quarterbacks here. I’m not willing to go through another year of offense like last year. Thomas needs to be better, and he needs to be better now.

Offensive Line: It’s hard for me to write that our offensive line is depleted after how bad it was last year. I know that injuries and inexperience were factors in that, but I’m not much for excuses. We simply need to be better at the line of scrimmage. If the new offensive scheme is to establish a power running game (which I like) we are going to need to find a way to win at the line of scrimmage every single week. I realize this doesn’t happen overnight, but it’s a very basic fundamental of football. If you can win the line of scrimmage and establish a consistent run game, you’re going to be in good position to win most football games. Let’s keep an eye on these guys Saturday and see how they hold up. Other than overall performance, keep an eye on are who do they have starting and where. Wang’s injury is a major shake up, but his health has always been an issue. Same goes for Acree. They will surely endure injuries throughout the year so this is a good time to establish depth and get some of the younger guys more experience.

Young wide receivers: Another area of the team that is dealing with inexperience and uncertainty is wide receiver. We have seen some of the best statistical receivers come through Blacksburg in the past few seasons. Each year it seems we have had to recover from losing our best receiver, and 2013 will be no different. The only returning proven talent at the position is senior DJ Coles. Coles will surely be a key factor this year, but there is an obvious need for the younger guys to step up. And to this point, it’s anyone’s spot to grab. Some names you may not know now, but will probably become familiar with next fall are E.L. Smiling, Willie Byrn, and Kevin Asante. Although inexperienced, these are some of the guys Beamer and Loeffler are evaluating and letting compete for playing time right now. Two freshman receivers to keep an eye on are Josh Stanford and Joel Caleb.

Donovan or Donaldven? With the injury to star cornerback Antone Exum, Donovan Riley and Donaldven Manning now find themselves in an intense battle for reps. With the return of Exum, Tech was slated to return nine starters from last year’s squad. Tech will surely depend on an experienced defense especially early in the season while the offense adjusts to new personnel and a new offensive scheme at the same time. Add onto that the Hokies open with defending National Champion Alabama? Sure, why not? You better believe Nick Saban and company will be looking for any flaw they can find on that defense. Manning and Riley still have plenty to work on as far as being consistent cover men as well as being sure tacklers before they think about starting. But the bottom line is that one of the two needs to step up and fill the vacancy or the Hokies will be in big trouble come August.

Running game/short yardage plays: I know this is a little repetitive, but the ability to win at the line of scrimmage and move the ball is going to be important this fall. There’s still no front runner for starting tailback, and the offensive line is as dinged up and shuffled as if we were half way through conference play. What’s the play call on 3rd and 3 on the opponent’s 40 yard line? Are we able to move the chains? Can we get the first down and put ourselves into a position to score? Or do we get stuffed and punt? Do we pound it up the gut? Or do the read option with Thomas? These are some of the key plays that will make/break our season this year. Loeffler will likely want to see how his guys react in those situations and see how/if they can execute in a live situation.

I don’t think we will see anything too crazy from Loeffler. After all, I don’t think the team knows enough yet to run anything too tricky. It’s a scrimmage. They will put individuals and squads in certain situations and test them. That’s it. There will be some highlights. There will be some lowlights. There will be a lot of room for improvement and that will likely continue into the fall. The Hokies are a work in progress and we need to let Beamer and his staff do what they do best, “Coach ‘em up!”.

***The Spring Game aka Maroon-White Game is Saturday at 3pm at Lane Stadium. Admission is free and parking is first come first served***

Don’s Tidbits:

-In case you can’t be in Blacksburg this Saturday, the Spring game will be broadcasted online at WatchESPN.com & ESPN3.com. Be sure to tune in!

-Men’s Basketball team signs two guards. Malik Mueller(Guard-Ehingen,Germany) and Devin Wilson(Guard- McKees Rock, PA) have signed with the Hokies beginning in Fall 2013.

-Attention Hokie Students (or friends and family of) : Student Season Ticket registration ends May 17th so make sure you get signed up.

Check out these helmets the Hokies will wear for the Sept. 21 game vs Marshall

-Britney Spears is a Hokie fan? Well, sort of.

That’s it for this time! For those of you attending Saturday enjoy it! Best Spring weekend in the Burg by far.

Until next time, Have Fun. Be Safe. Go Hokies!

 

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