January 3, 2013

Wizard Staff

Not this, asshole.  You take me too literally.

In case you haven't heard, news broke today that UVA has hired Jon Tenuta as its new Defensive Coordinator, Jeff Banks as its Special Teams Cooardinator and Running Backs Coach, Marques "Biscuit" Hagans as its Wide Receivers Coach, and the coup de grĂ¢ce (to our enemies), Tom O'Brien (aka "TOB") as its Associate Head Coach [for Offense] and Tight Ends Coach.

Hoofans have been waiting for a home run hire to replace Jim Reid, and Tenuta is certainly a bomb over the left field bleachers.  Meanwhile, adding TOB to the staff in any capacity is a grand slam in the bottom of the ninth in game seven of the World Series.

I can't do these hires justice like Jamie Oakes from Wahoos247 can, so please just read his story, HERE.  Come on back when you're done, I still have a few things to say.

Okay, you're back?  Good.  I also want to show you THIS.  It's important to set a tone and get the goosebumps raised.  Let me know when you're done watching.

All set?  Okay, here are a few of my quick-fire thoughts on these hires, which compose the "wizard staff" I mentioned earlier.

Tom O'Brien
Maybe TOB is a coach to coach our coach, and maybe his addition to the staff adds up to too many cooks in the kitchen, but I'm just going to put it as simply as I can: Everything Mike London is bad at doing, TOB is good at doing.  London and O'Brien have a history together, working harmoniously at Boston College.  So if a true collaboration is achieved within our coaching staff, it can only mean good things for UVA.  TOB is one helluva good coach.  He knows the state of Virginia, he has gobs of experience, he knows the ACC inside and out, and he excels at elevating 2- and 3-star talent into 4-star players.  I wonder what he'll be able to do with the 4- and 5-star kids London, Chip West, and Anthony Poindexter recruit?  Adding a guy like O'Brien to your staff is like a tide that raises all boats.  I overuse that saying, but it absolutely applies here.  I literally cannot gush enough about Tom O'Brien.

Jon Tenuta
Tenuta is like a mad scientist of blitzes. He believes in pressure as a philosophy. What, exactly, does that mean?

Tenuta sees pressure as not something to change the pace of the game or to keep opposing offenses from getting into a rhythm.  He doesn't see it as a situational component of defense.  He believes in playing on the opposite side of the line of scrimmage at all times, in order to rattle quarterbacks and dictate the action to the offense, not react to what the offense dictates to the D.  Tenuta has an aggressive personality and emphasizes physical play, and is a superb defensive play-caller because he is fearless with applying pressure... because he always applies pressure.  Obviously, this means blitzing.  Constant blitzing.

Blitzing can effectively be broken down into two categories: equal and overload.  An equal blitz is when the defense rushes with a number of players equal to - or less than - the number of offensive players in pass protection.  Overload blitzing is when the defense rushes the quarterback with more defenders than the offense uses to protect the passer.  The latter aims at applying pressure quickly with an unblocked defender, but can lead to uncovered receivers and/or holes in zone coverage.  There are variations to both approaches, but most are focused on disguise and execution.  Rolling coverages, dropping defensive linemen into coverage, etc. are mostly window dressing for these two blitz types.  One of Tenuta’s specialties is a hybrid of the two -- rather than rush more defenders than offensive players in pass protection, Tenuta focuses on overloading an area of the field. This overload area blitz attempts to turn a defender loose but doesn’t sacrifice bodies in pass coverage like a traditional overload blitz.  It's a beautiful thing to behold, as it can achieve the benefit of an overload blitz without the inherent risk of dropping too few players into coverage.  But make absolutely no mistake: Jon Tenuta's defense is risky.  It will generate sacks and turnovers, and force opposing offenses into making mistakes.  But it will also yield a lot of "too easy" passing plays, and will lead to the roof being blown off of coverage far too often.

NC State fans will tell you that Tenuta's style is essentially this: Blitz one!  Didn't work?  Blitz two!  Didn't work?  Blitz three!  Didn't work?  Blitz four!  Didn't work?  Blitz 'em all!

At the end of the day, you have to ask yourself, would you rather be attacking, or would you rather be attacked?  It's an entertaining style of defense, and I'm excited to see us play it.  Anything is better than bend-don't-break until you're broken.

Jeff Banks
Here's all you need to know about Jeff Banks: he specializes in coaching special teams, and is a true Special Teams Coordinator.  He's not just a regular position coach with the speacial teams tacked on to his list of responsibilities.  His units were rock-solid at UTEP, and as a former punter himself, he really knows and understands the kicking side of the equation.  I view this as a massive upgrade in our coaching staff, sorry Dex.

He's breaking through as a paid assistant coach, but here's what he brings to the table: 757 connections, youthful energy, experience at both wide receiver and quarterback, close personal affection for the University of Virginia, and a "will-do" enthusiasm for everything he does.  I think he projects as a very good recruiter, and a good-enough receivers coach while he cuts his teeth in the profession.

Add it all up, y'all.  This is indeed a Wizard Staff.  So frickin' excited right now!



  1. The wait has been worth it. London done good.

  2. Consider our big boy pants on. This is the move the program needed. First staff had the recruiting chops to sell the vision and get the kids in, second staff has the coaching chops to take that talent to the next level. Can't wait for the spring game to see what they have done.

    If nothing else, I'll bet Jake McGee learns how to block and can be our every down TE.