Ladies and Gentlemen, this week has seen a huge growth in the number of VT offensive critics, and we here at the FBS Blog have seen the lions share of the action. Among the non-Stiney critics, there have been a number of excuses and finger pointing. Everyone from Tyrod to Boone, from Stiney to Beamer has been blamed for our poor offensive output. I’ve even heard a few football fabulists blaming Bud Foster and the Hokie defense for not holding off the Tide’s running attack in the 4th quarter.
It is because of this that I feel the need to solidify the viewpoint of the FBS Blog and it’s contributors. From the Mission Statement that appears at the top of the blog:
We at FBS believe that offensive coordinator Bryan Stinespring bears the largest share of the blame for years of sub-par output from some of the most talented players ever to set foot on Worsham Field.
Let me be clear on this point, if I fail to make any other during this post: good coaching leads to good players. Many of us who have played sports in the past have had the good fortune to play under a coach who emphasized execution and teamwork - a team that won not because of it’s stars, but because of it’s cohesiveness. These coaches recognized the abilities and weaknesses of the players under them, and designed schemes and plays to better utilize their collective talents and protect their weaknesses. Under such a coach, a player like Tyrod Taylor would score on his feet and keep defenses at bay with his arm (not the other way around, as we saw last weekend). under such a coach, athletic linemen (Warren and Wang are former TE’s) would be used in schemes requiring more pulling, screening and play action.
Coaches like our own Bud Foster can pull together mid-level talent and allow them to succeed. Paul Johnson did it at Navy and is doing it again (now with some star power) at Georgia Tech. Frankly, Bryan Stinespring has shown very little evidence of being able to even put together a Navy-caliber offense (Navy has out-ranked us in total offense every year since Stiney took over), let alone one the likes of GT, despite having just as many talented players.
In high school, I had the privilege to play under a defensive coordinator who took undersized players and built a defense that regularly held the best talent in our area (including at least 1 now-starting NFL RB) to far fewer yards than any other school in the area could. We won the state championship my senior season, despite having a team that, by all accounts, wasn’t even supposed to challenge for a playoff spot. I got to see first hand what a good coach can accomplish just by expecting, not just asking, his players to execute. If you didn’t execute, there was someone behind you in the depth chart who would.
I’ve said it before, but I think VT is best served not with a Texas Tech or Hawaii-style passing attack, but with a methodical, punch-you-in-the-face running game. The kind of gameplan that chews up clock and allows for the defense and special teams to shine. It would also open opposing defenses up to the occasional deep pass or screen. The kind of game where you can damn near will a drive to go just as far as you want it to. Check out video of Jacob Hester at LSU or LenDale White at USC. They could pound the ball in when they got into the red zone, something the VT offense has failed to do in recent years.
That said, many of us here at FBS (I won’t venture to say all) appreciate Stinespring’s strengths as a recruiter and as a position coach. He’s lead to a large amount of talent in Blacksburg, and his former offensive linemen, and now tight ends are some of the best in college football, but as a coordinator and play caller, he just can’t seem to get the job done. Head Coach Frank Beamer needs to see that and make an adjustment, otherwise that trophy case will likely remain empty for another decade.