Justin Fuente was hired to bring his scheme to Virginia Tech after four years in Memphis. While the results haven’t been perfect, early returns have been inspiring, averaging thirty-five points a game. Operating largely out of 11, 21 or empty personnel the The Hokies are one of the fastest teams in the country, ranking 17th in adjusted pace. Virginia Tech is at its best throwing the ball quickly to large, explosive receivers on the outside. Isaiah Ford already has the school record for touchdown receptions, and 6’7” TE/WR Bucky Hodges is a matchup nightmare. Jerod Evans has thrown twenty six touchdowns as opposed to only five interceptions. With that said, VT struggles to run the ball, particularly without Evans carrying, and has serious issues pass blocking.
The Hokies base running play is inside zone, usually with a tight end/fullback blocking the backside defensive end.
RB Travon McMillian and FB Sam Rodgers are both small, powerful backs who struggle to create big plays. Jerod Evans leads the team in carries, rushing yards, and rushing touchdowns. The offense flows through him, with the running backs serving to punish defenses for overcommitting. VT is particularly fond of running QB power attached to RPO’s allowing Evans to pick the better option post snap.
Buck sweep (with a backside slant) and draw round out the rushing game.
VT, in a statistical quirk, are one of the more run heavy teams in the country in passing situations. Some of this is due to Evans athleticism, and his reliance on it
However, the Hokies also call quite a few draw plays, probably in an attempt to slow down pass rushers by forcing them to account for the running back.
The Hokies have thrown remarkably few interceptions this year, however they have struggled with fumbles. Evans struggles the most, fumbling nine times, and has particular issues putting the ball on the ground when running the option.
VT’s passing game almost exclusively attacks outside of the tackles, typically with short routes attached to play action or RPO’s. The majority of damage done through the air is done on either curls, slants, bubble screens or fade routes.
Evans low interception rate is commendable, but it is aided by the conservative nature of the offense. VT does an excellent job faking running plays when running a called play action, helping their receivers gain a split second advantage.
Drop back passes are rare, typically consisting of two quick concepts, with Evans picking which side to throw to. Such as below where the wide side runs curls and Ford, who is often left alone to isolate a corner, runs an out.
Virginia Tech has a fundamentally sound scheme, a good coach and reason to be optimistic about their future. Should Clemson turn the ball over a couple of times and give up a big return the Tigers could easily lose Saturday. However, issues passing the ball downfield combined with struggles running the ball consistently put a hard ceiling on how much this unit can accomplish in 2016.
Tigers 31-Hokies 20