On one of the first plays in Monday’s scrimmage, receiver D.J. Coles came out of the huddle and lined up in Virginia Tech’s wing set as a fullback. At the snap, he came out of the backfield, cut out into the flat and caught a short pass.
On another play, he lined up in the same spot but blocked on a running play. Later in the scrimmage, he lined up out wide as a receiver and hauled in a 46-yard pass on a deep ball from Logan Thomas.
This is how the Hokies’ envision Coles’ role come fall — a little bit of this, a little bit of that, be it as an H-back or whatever you want to call it. The goal at every spot remains the same, though: create mismatches against the defense.
“He’s got some size and you’d like to get some mismatches going,” head coach Frank Beamer said of the 6-foot-4, 238-pound senior. “He’s big enough to play like an H-back. We want him to be athletic enough to play wide receiver, and he may have to lose a few pounds to do that. But we’re experimenting with that a little bit.”
Thomas likened Coles’ role to New England Patriots tight end Aaron Hernandez, whose last year at Florida coincided with Scot Loeffler‘s first as quarterbacks coach with the Gators. Hernandez is a Swiss Army Knife of sorts with for Bill Belichick in New England, having lined up as a tight end, receiver, fullback and even tailback.
“I like it a lot,” said Coles, who is coming off a knee injury but thinks it has held up fine so far this spring. “It sets me up against the linebacker. I can out-run him with my speed. Or it sets me up against a safety, which I’m bigger than, stronger than. So it’s good for the offense, it’s good for everybody because it creates problems all over the field.”
Tech used all sorts of motion in its 101-play scrimmage Monday. While Coles would occasionally line up in the backfield, running backs Trey Edmunds and Michael Holmes would sometimes go in motion and line up outside as receivers.
The goal is being as multiple as possible without having to substitute personnel and allow defenses to adjust accordingly.
“It’s really important,” Loeffler said. “Anytime you force teams to make a decision, to play nickel or not play nickel, I think that’s a huge advantage.”
Early indications are that using motion to exploit weaknesses in the opposing defense will be a featured part of the Hokies’ new-look offense.
“We’re going to take advantage of the defense; we’re going to attack the defense,” Coles said. “We’re not going to sit back and just play. We’re going at them. … It’s not just one person here or there. We’re all going to be everywhere. When people see this offense, they’re going to be excited to see us play this fall.”