For the second-straight year of the Justin Fuente era, the Virginia Tech Hokies' Spring Game will have an offense vs. defense format instead of splitting the roster into two teams for the game. Most people have blamed the reasoning for this format on the fact that the Hokies once again have numerous injuries on both sides of the ball and how filling out even a two-deep is difficult at some positions including on the defensive line.
On paper, tis seems like it would bring a weaker quality especially with a scoring system having to be made up for the defense. While the scoring for this game may be a little weird, there is no doubt in my mind that whether Virginia Tech has injury issues in future springs or not, Virginia Tech should keep an offense vs. defense format for their Spring Game.
One of the biggest reasons for this is the fact that you can get reps between your first team offense and defense while allowing some of the position battles to be played out in this game by allowing two guys to split their reps between the first and second team, improving the ability of the staff to evaluate. This helps gives the coaches another opportunity to evaluate players in a position battle that might be trickier or impossible to do in a traditional Spring Game format.
This format allows for all of the defensive staff to be with the defensive players and all of the offensive staff to be with the offensive players, making it easier for coaches to point out mistakes and be right there to try to correct them. While this is a minor detail, it is undoubtedly something that could be very useful for the staff while also allowing each coach to see how each guy at their position reacts to different situations whether they make a good play or make a mistake that is pointed out on the sideline.
For the offense, it allows for teams to work in and out of different packages freely without having some guys on one sideline and other guys on the other sideline. With offensive coaches now having plenty of unique packages that could have two tight ends in some cases, four WRs, multiple RBs, or whatever else; being able to have your full offensive arsenal available that's healthy can allow for these coaches to test out these packages and see how much progress has been made.
For at least Spring Game, it will help with the evaluation of the Hokies' three-man QB battle with all three being able to mix and match reps with the first and second team offenses. Looking ahead to next fall, all three guys need at least some reps with the Hokies' top receivers to help build chemistry and with there being three different guys who could do so, this format gives that opportunity. With the Hokies also anting to have at least 4-5 wide receivers, this format will allow all three QBs to work with some of the backups who could have limited roles in the offense this upcoming fall.
For the defense, it makes it easier for them to run more than just a base defense with it being easier for Bud Foster to use some of his nickel and dime packages in this game. With modern offenses being unafraid to go to four or even five receiver sets, being able to get some extra scrimmage work with these defensive back-heavy packages is definitely useful for continuing to implement those defenses.
This format also creates some 1st team vs. 2nd team drive that gives younger players a chance to test themselves against more experienced players and bigger athletes that some of them may end up facing in the fall. It also gives these depth players a chance to face the best competition they face with every one of those reps potentially proving useful in the fall should injuries come and younger backups be needed to step up into larger roles.
Lastly, it makes it harder for the coaches to not at lest put the first team offense and first team defense out there for a few drives, guaranteeing that the 40,000+ fans at Lane Stadium get to see the Hokies' best face off against each other while also getting to see younger players match up against each other in this game.
Overall, an offense vs. defense format presents multiple advantages while not taking anything away from the quality of the game other than the fact that there is a weird scoring format involved. While traditionalists may not be fan of the offense vs. defense format, it just simply makes more sense and it's almost unbelievable that this type of Spring Game hasn't been done more often.
Going forward, Justin Fuente should stick with the offense vs. defense format regardless of the number of players able to play or not.
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