Tag:Virginia Tech
Posted on: February 23, 2011 11:52 am
 

Tech's Stinespring asked off play-calling duties

Posted by Jerry Hinnen

When the news broke yesterday that longtime Virgina Tech offensive coordinator Bryan Stinespring had been relieved of his play-calling duties (if not the actual title of offensive coordinator) in favor of Mike O'Cain , the immediate question was: Why now? Stinespring's offense had largely succeeded the past two seasons after largely flailing the two before. If Frank Beamer was interested in a change, why after 2010 and not 2008?

The answer, according to Beamer , was that it wasn't him that wanted to shake up the staff ... it was Stinespring himself:
Coach Stinespring was the guy to decide it, and that's the reason we ended up going that way ...

That came about in sitting down with Bryan and talking about it. Mike O'Cain meets with the quarterbacks every day, and I think having that guy that meets with them every day and is watching video and watching video of the last game, I think in the big picture, actually having that guy be the primary play-caller ... sometimes you’d run into a situation where you're watching film of the upcoming team and it's third-and-10 and it's, 'Logan, what would you like in this situation?' I think coach O'Cain has that opportunity.
The "Logan" in question here is Logan Thomas, the Hokies expected 2011 starter. O'Cain has been Thomas's quarterbacks coach and may have more familiarity with calling plays for a pocket-passer like Thomas (it's worth noting that Stinespring struggled mightily with the similar Sean Glennon and had much, much more success with Tyrod Taylor), leading Stinespring to ask for the reshuffling (and Beamer to agree).

Beamer would dis agree, however, that the reshuffling is a major change for the Hokies, saying that "it’s not as big a deal as maybe you guys would make it out to be." Stinespring is still expected to be a major part of the Hokie game-planning, and Beamer noted that O'Cain was already calling plays during two-minute drills.

But nonetheless, there's few (if any) more crucial in-game decisions for a coaching staff than offensive playcalls. And for the first time in nine years, those calls for the defending ACC champions will now be made by someone other than Bryan Stinespring. Whether that decision was Beamer's or Stinespring's, yes, it's still a big, big deal.

Posted on: February 22, 2011 11:49 am
Edited on: February 22, 2011 2:54 pm
 

O'Cain takes over offense in Hokie shakeup

Posted by Jerry Hinnen

Bryan Stinespring has been a Virginia Tech assistant for 18 years and has been Frank Beamer's offensive coordinator since 2002. If ever Beamer was going to change the latter arrangement, you'd have expected it to come following the 2007 and 2008 seasons, when Stinespring's attack finished 100th and 103rd in total offense, making him public coaching enemy No. 1 among Hokie fans.

But then Tech vaulted to No. 50 in 2009 and 42nd in 2010, and even those numbers don't do Stinespring justice; the Hokies finished 20th this past season in yards-per-play. The calls for Stinespring's job had gotten noticeably less audible. So he was safe for 2011 at least, right? Wrong :



That's Kyle Tucker of the Virginian-Pilot reporting that the Stinepsring era has officially ended in Blacksburg: he's been moved to position coaching with the tackles and tight ends, with Mike O'Cain taking over as the Hokie play-caller. (Curt Newsome will also move from coaching the entire offensive line to just the guards and centers, apparently.)

The news will likely be welcomed by Hokie fans on two fronts: not only is their object of coordinating scorn removed from the play-calling duties, but O'Cain seems like a quality replacement. The quarterbacks coach at Virginia Tech since 2006, O'Cain has several years of experience both as a head coach (at N.C. State) and an offensive coordinator (at Clemson). How much of an improvement he can make in the Hokie offense without the services of Tyrod Taylor remains to be seen, but it seems unlikely that he doesn't have the chops to better Stinespring's spotty record over the long haul.

The question remains, though: why now? Why throw this kind of curveball just when it seemed like Stinespring was getting his feet underneath him? The answer probably lies in the departures of Taylor and backfield mates Darren Evans and Ryan Williams; if Beamer wanted to make a change, starting over with a new quarterback and new running backs seems like a better time to do it than in the middle of Taylor's superstar tenure.

So Hokie fans finally get what they want in the coordinator's chair. Now we'll all see if they get what they want on the field.

UPDATE: Though it appears to be little more than semantics -- and the salary/prestige of the title involved -- multiple reports suggest that though O'Cain will definitely call plays for the Hokies in 2011, Stinespring may still retain his "offensive coordinator" title (even as he works prdominantly with the tackles and tight ends).


Posted on: February 21, 2011 5:28 pm
Edited on: February 21, 2011 6:03 pm
 

Spring Practice Primer: Stanford

Posted by Bryan Fischer

College Football has no offseason. Every coach knows that the preparation for September begins now, in Spring Practice. So we here at the Eye on College Football will get you ready as teams open spring ball with our Spring Practice Primers. Today, we look at Stanford, which begins spring practice this afternoon.

Spring practice question: Can the Cardinal keep up the momentum under new coach David Shaw?

Fresh off the best season in school history - punctuated by a 40-12 dismantling of Virginia Tech in the Orange Bowl - Stanford’s offseason was filled with something rarely associated with the program: drama. After a week of will-he-or-won’t-he declare for the draft, presumed number one pick Andrew Luck stunned everyone by announcing he would stay in school. A day later, after being courted by Michigan and the Miami Dolphins, head coach Jim Harbaugh left for the San Francisco 49ers.

When hiring a new head coach was only the third most interesting thing to happen on campus during the offseason, you realize just how far Stanford football came under Harbaugh. Trying to continue what he build up is Stanford alum David Shaw, who slides into the head coaching role after being the Cardinal's offensive coordinator the past four years.

What’s his deal? For all the talk about Luck's role in the offense, Shaw is a believer in a balanced offense for one. Despite not having Heisman Trophy runner-up Toby Gerhart last season, Stanford still finished second in the Pac-10 in rushing at 214 yards per game. Though most of the backfield returns in 2011, the major storyline of spring practice is finding replacements for three starters on the offensive line, including All-American center Chase Beeler.

“From a personnel standpoint, we have a chance to be very athletic upfront,” Shaw said at his pre-spring press conference. “The question is will those guys be consistent and will they play at the same level as those who they are replacing from last year. Ability-wise, we'll be fine. This spring we'll see who is ready to step up and fill those roles. A lot of our success will depend on how we play upfront.”

Offensive line isn’t the only area of concern for the first time head coach. There are still open position battles at linebacker, defensive line, cornerback and backup quarterback. The Cardinal might need five players just to replace all-everything Owen Marecic.

“The best thing about spring practice is the pure competition,” Shaw said. “We have guys coming back who played well for us last year but will be pushed by others ready to make their marks. We've recruited very well the last couple of years and we have a lot of players who are ready to compete and fill some roles.

“The next year is always different - different players, different roles, different schemes. You always have to add, delete and change. That's where we are at right now.”

The first week or two of spring practice will be a bit of a learning experience for the new staff. Shaw named former New York Jets assistant Mike Bloomgren as offensive line coach/run game coordinator and elevated Mike Sanford to running backs coach last Friday. Bringing on coaches just four days before spring practice starts isn't ideal and is something to keep an eye on but staff continuity elsewhere should help ease the transition.

Defensively, Derek Mason and Jason Tarver will share the defensive coordinator title and attempt to fill the shoes of the highly regarded Vic Fangio. Mason will also coach the secondary and will be responsible for calling plays, while Tarver will also serve as linebackers coach.

The return of Luck, however, is key for building on the success of last year. Shaw shouldn't have too much trouble keeping Stanford’s offense from dipping too much from last year’s unit that set a school-record for points scored and finished ninth in the nation in scoring. Having the Heisman Trophy front-runner under center tends to help but running backs Stepfan Taylor, Anthony Wilkerson and others will also contribute. 

“With Andrew coming back, I've felt pretty good going to bed at night,” Shaw said. “I think he is comfortable with me in my role and I'm extremely comfortable with him. We have an established relationship that will only get better.”

With a manageable schedule (Oregon and Notre Dame at home to go along with just four road games) and lots of talent surrounding a future number one pick in the NFL Draft, Shaw could not have asked for a better situation to take over. With a little bit of Luck and a dash of good coaching, don’t expect a drop off from Stanford after using David Shaw's first spring practice to ease the transition from Jim Harbaugh.

Posted on: February 18, 2011 12:11 pm
 

Comparing coaching raises at Boise St., Illinois

Posted by Jerry Hinnen

A quick comparison of two recent coaching raises, one at Illinois, the other at Boise State:



This is Ron Zook. His resume:
  • Record at current school: 28-45
  • Record previous three seasons: 15-22
  • Highlight of 2010 season: defeating 7-6 Baylor in bowl game; finishing season game over .500
  • Lowlight of 2010 season: back-to-back defeats to Michigan and Minnesota, one of whom would fire its coach at the end of the season and the other of whom had already fired their coach
  • Highly embarrassing photos available on the Internet: too many to count
Raise in annual salary the above resume is worth : $250,000



This is Chris Petersen. His resume:
  • Record at current school: 61-5
  • Record previous three seasons: 38-2
  • Highlight of 2010 season: defeating eventual ACC champion Virginia Tech in cross-country road game or defeating 10-2, 19th-ranked Utah in bowl game to cap 12-1 season
  • Lowlight of 2010 season: falling 34-31 in overtime on the road at Nevada team that would finish 13-1 and ranked No. 11 following pair of missed chip-shot field goals by previously reliable senior kicker
  • Highly embarrassing photos available on the Internet: none we can find
Raise in annual salary the above resume is worth : $35,000

BONUS data point on what above resume is not worth: Unanimous support from the Idaho Board of Education to receive said $35,000 bonus (emphasis added):
The state Board of Education on Thursday voted 5-2 to give Petersen a $50,000 bonus and a $35,000 bump in annual salary after the Broncos compiled a 12-1 record and ended the season in the Top 10 again.
Conclusion of comparison: By every account, Petersen's not looking to move on from Boise anytime soon. But if he ever does, you'll know why.
Posted on: February 14, 2011 4:05 pm
 

Shane Beamer joins the Virginia Tech staff

Posted by Tom Fornelli

Sometimes Valentine's Day is about reuniting former lovers, and other times it's about reuniting a father and his son. In the case of Virginia Tech, it's the latter this year. The school announced on Monday that Shane Beamer was leaving his position at South Carolina to return to the Hokies as running backs coach.

“I’m extremely excited about the opportunity to return to Virginia Tech,” said Shane Beamer in a release. “I’ve been gone 11 years and during that time I’ve been around a number of great coaches and great programs and had the opportunity to learn a lot. Now, I look forward to returning to Blacksburg and helping Virginia Tech continue to win championships.

“I’m also excited to have the opportunity to be around Coach Hite. I have always had a tremendous amount of respect for him and I welcome the chance to learn from him.” 

The coach Hite Beamer refers to is Billy Hite, whom he is replacing as running backs coach. Hite has been moved to a new administrative position where he'll serve as an assitant and advisor to Frank Beamer. Hite had been the running backs coach at Virginia Tech for the past 33 years, taking the job under Bill Dooley in 1978. When Frank Beamer took over the job in 1987, he kept Hite on his staff.

Of course, this is not a move motivated by nepotism at all. Shane Beamer has plenty of experience as an assistant throughout college football, and over the last two seasons helped put together a couple of very strong recruiting classes at South Carolina. He helped bring in Marcus Lattimore last season. Odds are that it's those recruiting chops that motivated his father to bring him back to Blacksburg.
Posted on: February 7, 2011 5:16 pm
Edited on: February 7, 2011 5:23 pm
 

Florida State-Miami talk Labor Day season opener

Posted by Chip Patterson

With the 2011 ACC football schedule still in negotiation, Florida State and Miami are mulling over the possibilities of moving their annual matchup to Labor Day evening (September 5) in Tallahassee.  Jorge Milian of the Palm Beach Post recently reported the schedule development after an interview with Hurricanes' athletic director Kirby Hocutt.

“We’re generally open to that because of the exposure and visibility that it brings,” Hocutt said in the interview. “It’s a tremendous opportunity. Obviously we have our set of concerns that we want to make sure we feel satisfied with before agreeing to anything.”

Both teams would have some schedule rearranging to do in order to make the game happen.  Florida State would have to re-schedule Louisiana-Monroe, currently scheduled on Saturday September 3, and the Hurricanes would look to move their October 1 meeting with Bethune-Cookman to September 10.  If the Hurricanes cannot get that move completed, they would have to burn a bye week to avoid two ACC meetings in five days.  

The game is not ideal for the Seminoles either.  Even if they can move ULM to later in the season, they would still be kicking off their 2011 campaign with three games in 12 days.  The last of that stretch being an awfully important matchup against Oklahoma.  With the talent coming back, and the job Jimbo Fisher has done on the recruiting trail, the Seminoles are an early favorite to win the ACC in 2011.  But even more important for the conference, Florida State has the opportunity to be a national title contender - something the conference has yet to produce since expansion in 2004.  If Florida State can knock off Oklahoma at home, they have a legitimate shot to be a contender when November rolls around.  

But as Andrew Carter, of the Orlando Sentinel, points out: these talks are likely a result of the ACC's television deal with ESPN.  The conference's contract calls for one "special appearance" game per season.  In 2010, the Virginia Tech - Boise State game (played on Labor Day evening at FedEx Field) filled that requirement.  Also, if the deal does go through it would at least provide Florida State with a season-opening homestand that could set the tone for a memorable 2011.
Posted on: January 26, 2011 5:43 pm
 

2011 returning starters: a first glance

Posted by Jerry Hinnen

It's never too early to start thinking about the next college football season, and that means it's never too early to ask the inevitable first question of any team going forward: How many starters do they have returning?

Fortunately, preview magazine maven Phil Steele has worked to provide a convenient answer to that query, releasing today a chart ranking all 120 FBS teams according to their offensive, defensive, and specialist starters returning.

There's plenty of time to delve far more deeply into college football's 2011 outlook, but a few immediate impressions after looking over the Steele chart:
  • SEC teams finish at both the top and bottom of the chart, with Vanderbilt leading the way behind all 11 2010 offensive starters remaining on the roster. But more notable is that after losing eight offensive starters, seven defensive, and both kickers, defending national champion Auburn comes in dead last, 120th out of 120. Gene Chizik will have his work cut out for him.

  • A couple of new head coaches in the Midwest step into very favorable situations. Brady Hoke will be able to draw upon nine returning starters on either side of the ball at Michigan and will only have to generate any kind of defensive pulse to be hailed as an improvement on Rich Rodriguez. But even he won't have it as cushy as Don Treadwell, who takes over the defending MAC champions at Miami (Ohio) and has 18 starters back to work with, good for 10th on the list.

  • A lot of early talk in the SEC West has focused on what LSU returns at the skill positions and what Alabama has lost, but behind nine returning defensive starters and both specialists, the Tide still boasts two more starters back than their Bayou Bengal rivals.

  • 2010 was almost certainly the high-water mark for the crumbling WAC. Not only is bellwether Boise State moving on to the Mountain West, but Nevada and Hawaii return just eight offensive starters between them.

  • Actually, it might have been the high-water mark for non-AQ teams in general. Gary Patterson's TCU seems as bulletproof as programs come these days, but having just four starters back on either side of the ball (placing them 119th on the chart, one spot ahead of Auburn) will be quite the challenge all the same.

  • You should go ahead and steel yourself against the Notre Dame hype flood now; the Irish ended the season on a four-game win streak, you'll recall, and have eight starters back on both offense and defense including surprise draft dodger Michael Floyd (pictured). 

  • Likewise, the offseason storyline for the ACC is already written: Florida State, with 18 starters back, will be expected to wrest the league overlord role away from Virginia Tech, with just 13.

Posted on: January 18, 2011 10:27 am
Edited on: January 18, 2011 10:56 am
 

What I learned from the ACC (Bowl Edition)

Posted by Chip Patterson

1. Florida State is an early favorite for 2011
- After dropping back-to-back games to North Carolina State and at home to North Carolina, Florida State looked like they had not completely shaken the consistency issues that have plagued the Seminoles in the last couple of seasons. In order to have a shot at the ACC title, Florida State would need to win out the final month of their ACC schedule. Not only did first-year coach Jimbo Fisher get his team to the ACC Championship Game, but they put up an impressive performance against Virginia Tech then followed it with a convincing win over South Carolina, the champions of the SEC East.

If one of the chief concerns for the Seminoles in 2011 is replacing Christian Ponder, then fans should feel very confident in their chances with E.J. Manuel at the helm. Manuel filled in for Ponder on three different occasions near the end of the season, culminating with his Chick Fil-A Bowl performance that helped seal the 26-17 win for Florida State. Additionally, all three of Florida State's top rushers (who combined collected 1,863 yards rushing and 17 touchdowns) are all returning next season. Florida State not only looks like an early ACC favorite, but perhaps a national favorite as well heading into the 2011 season.

2. If Russell Wilson is done, he went out in style - Russell Wilson was assumed to be as good as gone by many at the conclusion of the 2010 season. The junior quarterback has already been drafted by the Colorado Rockies, is engaged, and would be able to graduate in May if he chooses to do so. But after N.C. State's 23-7 victory over West Virginia in the Champs Sports Bowl, Wilson hinted that he may have interest in playing football professionally as well.

"I want to be a starting quarterback in the NFL one day, and I want to be a starting second baseman in Major League Baseball one day," Wilson said to reporters after the game. "No matter what, I work my butt off every day to try to be the best and that's my mindset."

The January 15 deadline to declare for the NFL draft has come and gone, and if Wilson decides he wants to rejoin the Wolfpack after participating with the Rockies in Spring Training he will still have that option. Clemson quarterback Kyle Parker did the same thing heading into the 2010 season with the Tigers. However, if Wilson decides to join the Rockies and start cashing in on his baseball career, he will wrapped up his college football career with a nearly flawless 275 yard, 2 touchdown, 0 interception performance that earned him Champs Sports Bowl MVP honors.

3. Virginia Tech can't shake the big game curse - The Hokies have been incredibly dominant in the ACC since joining the conference in 2004, but they have struggled to match that superiority with big-time wins on the national level. Virginia Tech has won the conference title four times in the last seven years, and appeared in four of the six ACC Championship Games. But against teams ranked in the top 5 nationally, the Hokies are 1-27 all-time and 1-19 during Frank Beamer's tenure in Blacksburg. Many figured that the Orange Bowl would be a chance for the Hokies to shake the stigma of failing to perform against top teams, and at halftime it looked like they might have a chance to pull the upset.

But in the second half Andrew Luck picked apart Bud Foster's defense while Stanford held Tyrod Taylor and the Virginia Tech offense scoreless while the Cardinal ran away with the 40-12 victory. However, it is important that Hokies fans don't dwell on the failures against the top 5 heading into 2011. With the kind of turnover Virginia Tech is expecting on both sides of the ball, defending their conference title will be a difficult task on its own.

4. ACC Coastal dropped the ball - This is more of a season-long lesson, but the ACC Coastal continued to be the less impressive division through the end of the bowl season. In the preseason polls, there five ACC teams in the Top 25, with four highest ranked teams (Virginia Tech, Miami, Georgia Tech, North Carolina) all coming from the Coastal Division. Not only did the balance of power appear to shift towards the Atlantic Division during the season, the bowl records from the postseason also indicate that the Atlantic may be the superior division.

Coastal teams went 1-3 during the postseason, with only North Carolina squeaking out their double overtime win over Tennessee in the Music City Bowl. The Atlantic, on the other hand, saw Florida State, Maryland, and N.C. State all pick up impressive victories in their bowl games. With the talent that Florida State and Maryland are bringing back, it would be surprising to see the media side with a new division heading into the 2011 season.

5. Ralph Friedgen left Randy Edsall a winning squad - Friedgen had an emotion al final game as Maryland's head coach, as his team bludgeoned ECU 51-20 in the Military Bowl. The players dedicated the beatdown to their head coach on his way out, capping off an impressive finish to the season that saw the Terps climb one game away from an ACC Championship Game appearance. But the time has come and gone for Ralph Friedgen fans to be upset with his dismissal from Maryland. Former Connecticut coach Randy Edsall has been hired, and the Terps are moving forward. What Friedgen did leave was a young and talented Maryland squad that will be a real threat in 2010. Edsall was a safe hire for athletic director Kevin Anderson, and the former Huskies head coach brought in some firepower with offensive coordinator Gary Crowton.

The last couple seasons have not been pleasant for Crowton, catching the blame from LSU fans for an offense that ranked near the bottom of the SEC in 2009 and 2010. But he saw his most successful season in his first year with Matt Flynn under center, and Terps fans will hope that a talented quarterback like ACC Freshman of the Year Danny O'Brien will recreate that success of the 2007 LSU offense under Crowton's direction.

 
 
 
 
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