After watching Grant Wells put together an impressive performance in Virginia Tech’s Spring Game, the obvious question was, “How did Grant do that?”
It’s a valid question, considering Wells’ lackluster 2022 campaign. But a quick look at the first drive shows that Wells’ improved look was in large part due to simplified throws to the perimeter.
Tyler Bowen’s Spring Game script started with two quick throws for Wells, the first of which was a pass to transfer running back Bhayshul Tuten.
Wells takes the snap and immediately throws to Tuten in the flat. Walk-on receiver Ayden Burkey successfully blocks Keonta Jenkins, leaving Tuten in a one-on-one matchup with Jaylen Jones. Tuten then shakes the former receiver for a solid gain.
On the very next play, Wells keeps the ball on a run-pass-option and throws to Burkey in the flat. This time, Tucker Holloway clears out Jenkins and Jones is forced to come from the safety spot to make the tackle.
Attacking the perimeter with short, quick throws is an easy way to get the football into the hands of your playmakers. It also keeps your quarterback in rhythm, which is important for a passer like Wells.
Wells hit the flat again later in the drive, this time to Chance Black. Jayden McDonald got caught looking in the backfield and Black beat him to the perimeter. Once again, Jones was forced to make the stop. The Hokies used a similar play on their second drive, which resulted in a Black touchdown.
Virginia Tech has a relative surplus of talent at running back heading into 2023. Tuten, Black, Bryce Duke and Malachi Thomas are all deserving of snaps, and the Hokies should utilize the passing game to get them involved.
In textbook fashion, Bowen later took advantage of the defense over-pursuing throws to the flat.
Again on the first drive, Virginia Tech fakes a throw to Tuten in the flat. The defense seems to have the numbers, but that’s if Wells throws it there.
Instead, Wells nails Benji Gosnell over the middle for a huge play. The mike linebacker gets sucked into the fake, leaving a monumental gap in front of Nasir Peoples. Gosnell puts Peoples on the turf, setting up the Hokies inside the redzone.
Repeatedly, Bowen attacked the defense with quick throws to the outside, usually to running backs. And in turn, Wells would take chances down the field and in the middle of the defense once they over corrected. It seemed like Bowen was trying to call similar plays for Kyron Drones and the White offense, but the execution was lacking in all areas.
Bowen’s Spring Game offense was incredibly simple, but it’s effective when your athletes are making plays.
The Maroon offense got some help from a disappointing White defense, but that’s the nature of intrasquad scrimmages. Regardless of the defense’s performance, seeing Wells look comfortable and in time with the offense was critical. He’s in Year 2 under Bowen, but in some ways he’s again in Year 1. The departures of offensive line coach Joe Rudolph and quarterbacks coach Brad Glenn mean that Bowen is in full control, and undoubtedly will be tweaking his offense. If Virginia Tech’s 2023 offensive scheme looks anything like it did at the Spring Game, everything will come down to players executing.
I know Wells didn’t face much pressure, but his Spring Game performance was highly encouraging. So was Bowen’s offensive scheme, which played to the Hokies’ strengths instead of their weaknesses. It’s an encouraging sign, given that Wells led one of the worst offenses in the country last year.