Over the years, we at TSF have called for Coach Stinespring's head on many, MANY occasions. He never deserved the offensive coordinator spot in the first place, and once in it, his flair for buffoonery and ineptitude has really been unmatched in all of college football. An excellent tight ends coach and recruiter, Stinespring has left poor decision after poor decision in his wake when it comes to the Virginia Tech offense. The program has risen to prominence with a tremendous defense and a boat anchor for an offense. And we've called Coach Beamer to account for tolerating this incompetence.
On top of all of that, we've blamed Stinespring for Mike O'Cain who is an absolutely terrible QB coach. Yes, Tyrod Taylor is starting to get recognized this year, and while we're happy to finally have some company on that bandwagon, let's not forget that this is in SPITE of O'Cain not because of him. Taylor is a prodigious talent who should have reached this level earlier in his career. If Stinespring really knew football, he would have had Coach O'Cain forced out long ago. All that said, I detect a difference in the offense this season, and it comes from the high standards Coach Stinespring is setting in pre-season practice. Standards that were never in place before, because he didn't have the credibility from the players to be able to set them.
Following the utter debacle against Nebraska last year, saved only by two completely MIRACULOUS plays by Tyrod Taylor, we heard something from Coach Stinespring that had never been heard before. He owned up to the disaster. For the first time, it wasn't the talent-level, or the rotating QB's or a guy just "not getting it done" out on the field. It was Stinespring, standing up in a team meeting and acknowledging the role that he had played in the offensive failure and then going hard to work on how to correct it. We don't know whether Coach Beamer sat Stiney down or not, but it doesn't matter. From that point on the season changed.
Coach Stinespring began using some ideas like a middle screen, and a moving pocket for Tyrod Taylor and combined with the enormous talents of Ryan Williams, Tyrod Taylor and the receiving corps, the offense actually started being productive. And all this team has needed to compete at the elite level of football is for the offense to just become productive. It doesn't need to be a record setter. It doesn't have to be a top 10 offense. It just needs to be efficient.
The fact remains that Stinespring still does not have a good feel for the game and I don't like how he calls it most of the time. His insistence on misusing his personnel continued even through the Hokies' strong run on offense to end the 2009 season. But he's sitting on the greatest collection of talent EVER on offense - and that includes the 1999 season. There are at LEAST 8 NFL caliber players on this offense - Williams/Evans/Wilson/Taylor/Boykin/Marcus Davis/Andre Davis/Brooks. Stiney knows that if he tries to get too fancy with an offense like this and blows it, not even whatever blackmail material he has that's kept him in this job thus far (ok so it's probably just Coach Beamer's blind loyalty) will be enough to save him this year.
Now in the interest of being fair, I do want to take one second and acknowledge something I have been wrong about with this offense. WR Coach Kevin Sherman, when he came over from Wake Forest looked like a surefire disaster and his first season in 2006 was not impressive at all. I wrote about what a mistake bringing him on staff was. But since then I have been nothing less than ecstatic with what Coach Sherman has been doing. Yes, he has had some great raw material to work with - and does again this year - but the receivers block properly (when was the last holding call on a receiver you can remember?) and they have really become a weapon in the offense, overall. Kudos Coach, for proving me wrong.
Speaking of being wrong, I have also said on more than one occasion, that VT will never win a national championship with Coach Stinespring running the offense. You don't know how badly I want to be wrong about this. I hope I get to write mea culpa, after mea culpa and eat crow for breakfast, lunch and dinner about how great this season is. But if the first play from scrimmage on Monday night against Boise State is an attempted bomb off of a play-fake that ends up in an 8 yd loss on a sack, you'll know where to find me - I'll be throwing myself off my roof.