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Pace is as important as the plays for Hokies

- - Monday, August 20, 2012

BLACKSBURG — Sometimes in football practice, junior cornerback Antone Exum just wants to ask the Virginia Tech offense to give him a minute.

"The faster that they are, the more we have to stay in a single coverage," Exum said. "If they get up to the line right away, we have to stay with that previous call because we don't have time to make adjustments."

And that's part of the aim of the Hokies' new-look offense for 2012.

Tech will use more misdirection and more spread elements, including the shotgun. It also will use the pistol formation, in which the tailback lines up directly behind the quarterback.

But more significant than any scheme changes will be the pace and tempo. Offensive coordinator Bryan Stinespring wants his unit moving faster between plays.

"We just want to speed ourselves up," Stinespring said. "Be constantly changing tempo. If we can keep defenses guessing on when we're going to snap the ball I think it gives a little bit of an advantage to us."

Junior quarterback Logan Thomas likes what he sees from the new approach.

"For one, it gets us more plays and two, it keeps the defense off balance," Thomas said. "The more the defense is having to think, the better it is for us, especially when we know what we're doing."

And Thomas said the Hokies' offensive players know what they're doing.

While the unit is rebuilding at tailback, wide receiver and offensive line, Thomas said most of the players being inserted into the lineup are veterans who have been around the program long enough to learn things quickly.

"We're able to call out plays at the line of scrimmage and the offensive line's able to pick it up and the receivers are able to pick it up," Thomas said. "I think that's a big reason why we can go up tempo."

Stinespring said the fast pace isn't that taxing for the Hokies' least experienced position, tailback.

"You either line up right behind the quarterback or to the side," Stinespring said.

True freshman tailback J.C. Coleman, the backup to redshirt freshman Michael Holmes, said going faster isn't easy for a rookie. "You have to know what you're doing to be able to do it."