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A Hokie Playbook filled with Digs, Deep Crosses, Skinny Posts, and more Digs

What sort of offense are we looking at Justin Fuente bringing to Blacksburg? Lots of folks want a return to the ball control grinding from the old days. Something tells me that is just going to happen if Coach Fuente can avoid it. Let's talk Air Raid, Inverted Veer, and empty backfields. Folks I betcha we come out throwing a whole lot more.

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Bet you that Michael Brewer would have loved a Fuente offense.
Bet you that Michael Brewer would have loved a Fuente offense.
Troy Taormina-USA TODAY Sports

What are we going to see on the offensive side of the ball next season?  Since he popped into the sports world's collective mind as an up and coming coach and first rate offensive tactician Justin Fuente has been making serious inroads.  Or maybe a better term would be "outroads".

Folks, for those of you looking for a return to the heavy punching body bag sort of 4 yards and a cloud of dust through the 1 or 2 hole sort of offensive scheme... Justin Fuente is not likely to be your favorite new coach.  Chris B. Brown of (two great books by the way:  Essential Smart Football and The Art of Smart Football ) credits Justin Fuente with his tenure at TCU with the invention of the Power Read/Inverted Veer offense.

Ok... please.. No kvetching and moaning over the lack of a running game and how we are going to have to run more with more power.  Modern football means slinging the ball around moving down field fast in whatever chunks the offense can create mismatches to gain.  If a quarterback has four receivers in a pattern and a five yard "dig out" pattern run by the fullback from the slot in a twins left-trips right formation is the first available open route the quarterback throws the 5.  There will be more Porsche, Double Pivots, and Cheetos in the playbook.

James Light thought enough of the hiring of Coach Fuente to spend some time a research looking at what his past tendencies were, and tossing a few bones of offensive hope over the fence.  For a look at what we might see next season as far as balance between run and pass we can take a look at Memphis's two prior seasons with Paxton Lynch in the pocket.






















Now we take a look at the rushing statistics for both years:
















As to the balance between pass and run, there is a definite evolution away from the run, presumably as Lynch gained confidence, and knowledge of the playbook and reads required to perform the task.  What is really interesting is that no one back dominated 2015, with 2014 ending with Brandon Hayes coming up 51 yards short of 1000 for the season.  In 2015, no one back dominated.  The yardage was spread between six backs last year.  Even in 2014, with the dominating performance by Hayes the next four backs gained just about 300 and a shade each.

The same can be said for the passing game in each season.  In 2015 Memphis had TEN receivers with over 100 yards.  The spread is interesting because the top three were between 700 and 800 yards each.  There was no real dominant receiver for the season.  The 2014 season had nine receivers with over 100 yards, but no one exceeded 600.

In both rushing and passing, it looks very much like Coach Fuente takes advantage of his personnel and configures his offense based on their skills and experience.  As Memphis's offensive unit got more experience the passing throttle was advanced, and a 600 yard passing over running advantage in 2014, increased to a dominating 1,664 yard advantage of passing over running.  One wonders what 2016 would have been like if Fuente had stayed in Memphis.  With a new quarterback would there have been a step back to the 2014 levels?

Well that was Memphis and TCU, in the further past.  It seems that Coach Fuente is gaining some sports enthusiasts respect as an offensive innovator, and from what I can see the biggest innovation is adaptability.  He has a playbook that he looks to have developed from what he considers to be the best of several worlds.  As we stand right now, there is a promise of a working Theory of Offense where adaptability and flexibility are at least as important as the coach's play design and strategy.

We can see by looking at snippets from his career that Coach Fuente has taken several concepts from several differing but complementary offenses and blended them into something that he thinks will work for the personnel that he has.  That is pretty refreshing, given the tendency for college coaches to build "their system" and then set out to hammer players into that system.  It's great if you are Alabama or LSU and have "those players" standing in line to play for you.  It's not so easy when you are Memphis or even Virginia Tech and the stars aren't as bright and numerous as those on the Nictator's recruiting list.

We can look and see a mixture of the Texas Tech Air Raid, a touch of Bowling Green Read/Option stirred with a TCU Inverted Veer Cheeto.  There is certainly an interesting competition developing for the starting quarterback position.  Dwayne Lawson and Jerod Evans are both Dual threat quarterbacks.  Paxton Lynch could run a bit; but he wasn't a huge threat in the various Read/Option plays that Fuente's TCU playbook called Cheetos.   Now Coach Fuente has the possibility of two competing quarterbacks who have the capability to complete his scheme and give him the full set of play choices.   There is even some space for Brandon Motley to work his way into the competition as a good quality High School option QB with some tough game experience under his belt.

Suffice it to say, that from what I am reading and seeing, we are looking at an offense based on speed, misdirection, and creating mismatches with patterns that can be completed in the 3-4 second time frame.  That is something that Hokie Nation is not used to seeing.  Can you imagine the possibilities of having TCU's scoring matched with Virginia Tech's old Lunch Pail bone crushing game dominating defense?  The principle smack against the Texas Tech Air Raid was that TT could score, they were a scoring machine-gun; but they had no defense.  TCU had a marginal defense. Let's see Coach Foster get back to where the Hokies are running a top ten defense.  We might see some real fireworks on Worsham Field for a change; instead of just overhead for the entry.

We will be taking some serious notes at the Spring Game.  This looks like it might be really fun to see, and that's exciting.   Slinging it around and scoring lots of points is truly a good thing.  Having a defense to stop the other guy from doing it is a shot at a National Championship run.  It maybe not be very soon; but certainly soon enough.