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2011 Virginia Tech Spring Football: What Will We Learn About the Hokies?

Previewing Virginia Tech's spring football practices, which begin Wednesday, March 30. Previously: 5 Position Battles to WatchACC Update5 Players to Watch.

Spring practice in general can only gives us a distorted view of what next year's football reality might look like. You'll see the star players protected from potential injury and like recruiting season all of the important stuff will happen behind closed doors. The practices are usually more important than the scrimmages in spring ball. It's about refining fundamentals and in the case of the young guys, creating them.

But this spring is a little different for Virginia Tech because there are so many unknowns. We have a new starting quarterback, a new featured running back and a new playcaller. On defense, there could be some tweaks on defense, whether it's going to a "heavier" 4-3, an 4-3 with a hybrid stand-up end or even a true 3-4. There's actually some questions to be answered on both sides of the ball.

But whatever answer we get will only be pieces to the puzzle. The Hokies probably won't show much during their scrimmages that would tip their hand to any drastic changes on the horizon. Instead we'll have to rely on practice reports and stories from the beat writers, like we have to do with recruiting.

Most of the intriguing stories will be about younger players like Nick Acree, Nick Dew, Zack McCray, Dominique Patterson and Laurence Gibson. Like baseball's spring training, football spring practice is about the future. That's why you probably won't see a lot of the superstars, including David Wilson.

Sure, Wilson will get his work in, but he's not going to be put in any kind of position where he could get injured. In 2009, Darren Evans tweaked his groin during the spring and was held out the rest of the way. Ryan Williams had tendinitis in his knee and didn't see much action during last year's spring camp. Wilson's too valuable a commodity to risk injury in April, so I'm anticipating most of the reps this spring to go to Josh Oglesby and the younger backs.

There have been a lot of changes and rumored changes surrounding the Hokies since we last saw them in that humiliating defeat to Stanford. The desire to see the fruit of that change and to get the taste of that defeat out of our mouths have a lot of us wanting more from this spring session than we're actually going to get. We'll only get so many answers to our questions about this team by the time spring practice is over.

Despite that, I'm ready for spring ball to start, ready to see who's ready to step up and make plays and how much work needs to be done between now and the first weekend in September. Most of all, I'm ready for football even though at the end of the day spring is a zero-sum game. Every big play and big turnover comes at the expense of one of our own.

In spring, every answer begs another question.