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Hokie Offense Not the Same Since the Bustle Era
by Chris Coleman, TechSideline.com, TSLMail #398, September 11, 2009
In late 2001, there was a contingent of Virginia Tech fans who wanted then-offensive coordinator Rickey Bustle out of Blacksburg. They felt his offense was getting stale, and that the Hokies needed a fresh start offensively to keep up with modern college football. They also needed a different quarterback coach to land prized recruit Marcus Vick, who wasn't considering the Hokies until Kevin Rogers was hired with the promise to "open up the offense".
To make a long story short, Bustle left and took the head coaching job at Louisiana-Lafayette following the 2001 season. Kevin Rogers was hired to replace him as quarterbacks coach, Bryan Stinespring was promoted to offensive coordinator, and Marcus Vick did indeed sign with the Hokies.
Since moving to Louisiana-Lafayette, the Bustle has gradually improved the offense.
Bustle's offense wasn't very good in his first two years at his new school, but after a couple of years it began to take off. The Ragin' Cajuns' started to get a lot better during the 2004 season, and they've become known as one of the country's best rushing teams. Over the last four years, ULL has averaged 239.5 yards per game on the ground.
Bustle's offenses were generally very effective at Virginia Tech as well. Here is a look at what Virginia Tech managed to do offensively during his tenure.
Under Rickey Bustle, Virginia Tech always found a way to run the football. They were a very efficient offense, and they averaged nearly 400 yards per game during his tenure in Blacksburg.
Since Bustle departed following the 2001 season, things haven't gone as well. Tech kept up the same production for a couple of seasons after he left, and then there was a noticeable decline.
It was thought that Bustle's departure would help the passing game. While Tech's current passing attack is much more sophisticated than Bustle's simple approach, the results have been the exact same. Bustle's offenses averaged 176.2 yards per game through the air, while the Hokies have averaged 176.7 passing yards since his departure.
Virginia Tech's running game has declined quite a bit since Bustle left. The Hokies have not averaged 200 yards per game on the ground since the 2003 season. They accomplished that feat in five of Bustle's eight seasons as offensive coordinator, and Tech never averaged less than 178.1 yards per game on the ground. The Hokies haven't averaged that many yards rushing per game since 2005.
Bustle had a solid knack for adapting his offense to the personnel he had available. In 1993, he had a mobile quarterback in Maurice DeShazo, an athletic offensive line, a stable of good running backs and a good group of receivers. Bustle's run-n-shoot offense of 1993 was probably his best offense schematically during his Tech years. It averaged 201.3 passing yards per game, the best number of the Beamer Bowl Era.
In 1995 and 1996, he had future first round draft pick Jim Druckenmiller at quarterback, and a big, physical offensive line. He developed a power running attack, with Druckenmiller very effective at working playaction, and even managed to mix in some option.
The 1997 and 1998 offenses were very limited, and quarterback Al Clark was injury prone. Tech had to be conservative in those two years. While the 1997 offense featured future free safety Nick Sorensen at offense at times, it still averaged 363 yards per game. That's better than any offense Tech has put on the field since 2005.
In 1999 and 2001, Bustle had Michael Vick, so basically any play he called could work. In 2001, he had to break in a limited pocket passing quarterback named Grant Noel behind an offensive line that lost four starters. Despite that, Tech still managed to produce 374 yards per game of total offense. Despite his lack of mobility, and a new offensive line, Noel was only sacked 20 times. That's fewer sacks than the Hokies allowed in 1999 and 2000 with Michael Vick at quarterback.
No matter how you slice it, Rickey Bustle proved himself to be a good offensive coordinator at Virginia Tech. The Hokies have steadily gone downhill on offense since he departed.
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