West Virginia’s loss will be Virginia Tech’s gain. Cornerbacks coach Brian Mitchell is reportedly leaving the Mountaineers for the Hokies, according to Mike Casazza of The Charleston Gazette-Mail.
Mitchell will join Virginia Tech head coach Justin Fuente and work under defensive coordinator Bud Foster, who is one key holdover from Tech’s former staff under Frank Beamer. This will be the first time Mitchell has worked with either Fuente or Foster. He will replace former cornerbacks coach Torrian Gray, who has moved to take on the same role at Florida after it appeared Fuente had his first Virginia Tech staff all glued together. Now it will be West Virginia head coach Dana Holgorsen looking to fill a vacancy on his staff with little time to spare before opening spring football practices in Morgantown. This is especially crucial because the Mountaineers are losing some fixtures in their defensive secondary, including safeties Karl Joseph and K.J. Dillon.
West Virginia ranked 83rd in the nation against the pass last season with 23 touchdowns allowed and an average of 237.8 yards allowed through the air, but the Mountaineers were among the leaders in total interceptions to help make up for it. West Virginia picked off 23 passes from opposing quarterbacks last season, which was good for a second-place tie with San Diego State and just three off of Arkansas State’s nation-leading 26 interceptions. It should also be kept in mind how often opposing offenses West Virginia faced tend to take to the air. Opposing quarterbacks had a 117.20 passer rating, ranking West Virginia 32nd in the nation. Virginia Tech ranked 37th. The Hokies also picked off just 10 passes last season.
It may just be a coincidence, but it never fails. As soon as the ink dries on the faxes from National Signing Day, assistant coaches change jobs left and right. Of course, this may be a coincidence because signing day still falls in the prime time for assistants to be on the move, which typically plays out in the months after head coaches switch jobs. Regardless, it leads to assistant coaches making the final sales pitches to recruits to come to schools they will end up not being employed by. It’s weird, but it is the reality of the game.
There were a flurry of post-signing day coaching changes that became official this week. Florida officially welcomed Torrian Gray as the new defensive backs coach after spending the last 10 seasons at Virginia Tech. Purdue added offensive line coach Darrell Funk to its staff. Oregon’s high school relations director, Sean Dillon, is joining former Oregon assistant-turned UCF head coach Scott Frost at UCF. Dillon takes on the title of director of player personnel at UCF.
Southern Miss is a little bit of a different situation given the late change in head coaches this year. Jay Hopson has reportedly informed multiple holdovers from the coaching staff they will not be retained (Jon Williams, Justin Roberts, Dayne Brown). That has to be a bit awkward for some of the newest additions to the program, although changes had to be expected for Southern Miss given the much more recent coaching change.
But hey, this happens in college football. Every. Single. Year.
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When it comes to building the perfect NFL wide receiver, having the size and hands of a guy like Calvin Johnson is certainly a nice luxury to have in the field. Before Johnson came along, Terrell Owens in the peak of his career was considered the elite physical specimen to have at wide receiver (or perhaps in the driveway). Michael Irvin before Owens was another example of the prototypical wide receiver, mixing size with speed and steady hands. Offenses around football have evolved at the NFL and college level, but it is still good to have receivers with good size running plays in the field. East Carolina wide receiver Justin Hardy may be just clear the six-foot mark with his height, in cleats, but he still has what it takes to take his game to the next level.
Today’s quick-tempo offenses are using more and more plays that allow smaller receivers to break big plays. Take DeSean Jackson for example, most recently in Philadelphia under former Oregon head coach Chip Kelly. Jackson was a home run threat waiting t happen in Kelly’s offense and he had a career year with a number of explosive plays in the new-look Eagles offense. Kelly brought many of his college techniques to the NFL and hopes to prove it can work on Sundays as well as it did on Saturdays. At East Carolina, Hardy is one of the next examples of a player that can make up for his supposed lack in size with his ability to break big plays.
Hardy gave South Carolina trouble over the weekend by racking up 133 receiving yards on 11 catches. Although East Carolina left Columbia with a loss, Hardy made a bit of a name for himself. He should continue to put up good numbers as East Carolina gets started with conference play in the American Athletic Conference. But first, Hardy will have to help his Pirates find a way to move the ball and score some points against a suddenly surging Virginia Tech team. The Hokies are coming off the big win at Ohio State to vault into the top 25 rankings. Defensive coordinator Bud Foster and defensive secondary coach Torrian Gray will surely be spending his time looking for ways for his terrific secondary to avoid allowing Hardy to run loose.
This should be a fantastic match-up.