Inside The Lunch Pail Mailbag 9/11/19
Welcome to our second Inside the Lunch Pail mailbag of 2019. As you see, it's once again on Wednesday as it will be going forward coming right as the page really turns from reflection on the previous week to focus on the upcoming one.
As always, you can send us questions via our Twitter and Facebook pages or email us at firstname.lastname@example.org.
With that said, let's get to this week's questions.
From @hokie_g: Why can't we cater our offense towards the QB?
There's a couple different answers and possibilities to this question with the answer either being VT getting through this weekend and using the bye to adjust or being stubborn. Obviously, the hope is the first and not the latter.
Now it's hard to make any major adjustment during a game week when you're already prepping your strategy for that team. You can make some gradual changes throughout but in order to make a big schematic change, you ideally need a week focused to yourself that next week's bye could provide if they do so.
The second option is that Justin Fuente and Brad Cornelsen are stuck to their ways and have no interest in making a change. There is something to be said about sticking with what you know since that's what got you to this point and may be what you can operate the best but at some point, you have to try to do something that should fit better.
Will we see a major schematic change? The likely answer will not come this week but a couple weeks later against Duke.
From @cdulaney74: Where is this furious offense Fuente promised to bring?
A high-tempo offense was something that most Hokie fans were expecting when Justin Fuente was brought aboard and while that could still happen, it's clear that the biggest offensive change was more on approach rather than pace.
Now we have seen the Hokies turn up the pace at times but the Hokies seem to approach using a high-tempo offense as either a way to change the pace or out of necessity in a two-minute scenario rather than a primary source. Of course, the Hokies will turn up the pace at times when they feel the defense is breathing heavy and on their heels but it's not a consistent decision that is made.
Now could that be because of not having confidence in the quarterback being able to do that? It may be an answer at times but the greater answer comes from how much of a role Brad Cornelsen has in calling and adjusting the play for the Hokies. His role kind of limits the pace that the Hokies can have and isn't an approach that is changing anytime soon.
From @hokiesmash_ASD: Will a running game be somewhat sufficient by the Commonwealth Cup - or will VT be one dimensional?
We'll see. I wish there was a more optimistic or just clear answer but at this point, it's not exactly trending in that direction.
Of course, it seems like that for the first time, the talent in the backfield isn't the biggest reason for the Hokies' running game struggles. Yes, the schematic and committee approach concerns that have been raised aren't new either but it hasn't helped that the Hokies' backfield has had lots of questions with converted fullbacks being the most successful tailbacks before 2019 in Sam Rogers and Steven Peoples.
I addressed my idea for a schematic adjustment in our offensive takeaways story but the other half is the fact that the Hokies need to go with one guy.
Deshawn McClease is a solid running back who can fit a third down/change of pace role but Keshawn King is the more dynamic runner both between and outside the tackles. As such, the Hokies needs to let King take the reigns and let him get in a rhythm. Even Bud Foster mentioned this week how he tries to make sure his linebackers get in a rhythm similar to how a running back should, something that doesn't seem to happen on that side of the ball.
Even if the schematic issues aren't addressed for whatever reason, the Hokies need to let King the guy, something that I do believe will happen. Will it be enough? We'll have to wait and see.
From @TomMishoe: Is there something in the Hokies' practice, conditioning, weight lifting, nutrition, etc. programs that is helping to create injuries? Seems like their have been an inordinate amount of injuries to Hokie players.
The injury question has been a regular one and one of those that does raise some concern. However, I think it has been overblown in some of the ways especially after no notable injury coming out of last week's game against Old Dominion, a sign that sometimes, football can have weird things happen in regards to injuries.
Of course, there is reason to be monitoring the injury situation for the Hokies in the coming weeks. Should there be more weeks like the Boston College one where there are a good amount of injuries, then they're may be reason for concern but for now, most signs point towards the rash of injuries that week being more fluke.
Additionally, the Hokies are likely to be more conservative in their decision-making regarding injured players given the fact that ODU and Furman aren't the same level as Duke or Miami.
One other thing that always go unnoticed is the fact that players are still physically developing while also taking a step up in terms of the physicality that they are facing and the demand that is being put on their bodies. That transition can take a greater amount of time for some players than others.
From @hokiesgd: Who looks like the most improved player on the defensive side of the ball?
There's a couple candidates who could be seen as the most improved with Rayshard Ashby and Jermaine Waller being the top two on my list.
Ashby has been Virginia Tech's best defensive player during the first two games with 23 tackles including 3.5 for loss, leading the Hokies both week and not only being productive but also consistent. Combine that with how Ashby has been tackling like he's doing it for an instructional video and it's clear that Ashby not only has continued to improve but that he also could be an All-ACC First or Second Team player by the end of the season.
The best answer to this question may be Jermaine Waller though.
Yes, Waller didn't play well week 1 but he looked like a cornerback that was built up to the standards that Virginia Tech has come to expect. Waller received the toughest assignment against Eric Kumah and stepped up only allowing 24 yards on 3 catches while preventing any big plays and being a sure tackler again and again to make sure any short curl route didn't become a big play. Additionally, Waller had 7 total tackles including a sack making plays all over the field.
The sophomore from Maryland not only has developed into the Hokies' best cornerback but he also is playing up to the DBU standard. Now the only question that remains is can he continue to do that? If yes, it'll be hard to say anyone other than Waller is the most improved on the Hokies' defense.