Hewitt readying Mason for his up-tempo designs

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Hewitt readying Mason for his up-tempo designs

The ball moving north and south with a quickened pace, the players creating an up-tempo scenario by taking fast break opportunities when obviously presented and sometimes when they are not.

This is Paul Hewitt basketball. Mason Nation caught a glimpse of the coach's rapid play designs last season, but not the full throated scheme.

Assuming the Patriots youthful backcourt breaks from their turnover-heavy habits, expect a more sustained look at Hewitt's push-the-ball approach during the 2012-13 campaign --now that half-courters Ryan Pearson and Mike Morrison have graduated.

It's blasphimous to suggest the Patriots are better off now that their two long-time interior stalwarts have used up all their eligibility. Nobody is doing that here. Clearly replacing Pearson, the burly CAA Player of the Year, and a defensive stalwart like the lengthy Morrison is a sizable task.

That's why going forward, for the growth of the program under the second-year coach, consider Pearson and Morrison's departure as necessary evils.

In his first season on the Fairfax campus, Hewitt gently imposed his hardwood ideals on a team coming off an NCAA Tournament appearance under his predecessor Jim Larranaga. Wisely, the former Georgia Tech coach played to his team's strengths. At George Mason that meant keeping Pearson and Morrison in their comfort zones which meant more half-court action - and less running than many of Hewitt's previous teams,.

With his second recruiting class now in the mix, with the benefit of having an entire off-season rather than the mini version he had following Larranaga's surprise departure, with another year of teaching his playbook, Hewitt moves closer to his desired style. 

"I wouldn't mind having Ryan and Mike back," Hewitt exclaimed at the CAA media day earlier this month before acknowledging the potential benefits of change. "We relied on those guys so much last year, we probably didn't play as fast as we could have or wanted too."

That's not to say the Patriots sat on the ball; George Mason led the CAA in scoring with 70.4 points per game.

The Patriots were also among the worst when it came to coughing up possession.

George Mason's 15.2 turnovers per game average ranked among the CAA's highest. Some games, Hewitt surely wished the team only committed 15 turnovers. In three of their four non-conference losses, including a 20-point defeat at Virginia, the Patriots turned the ball over at least 20 times. George Mason opens the upcoming season hosting Virginia on Nov. 9.

In a win or go home scenario against VCU in the CAA Tournament, Mason committed 17 turnovers, eight coming during an epic 22-0 first half run by the winning Rams.

"That's a big problem that we had last year," Hewitt said. "The offseason workouts will help us improve that, but we've been making it a point of emphasis through practice. We keep harping on the fact that we turned the ball over so much."

In his first season as a starter, point guard Bryon Allen matched Pearson with a team-high 89 turnovers. Over the Patriots final four games, the Largo native lost possession a whopping 4.5 per contest. Allen's freshman backup Corey Edwards committed 2.2 turnovers per game despite averaging 15 minutes.

With a year of experience now on their resume, the coach expects improvement from his primary ball handlers and decision makers. Even without his top two scorers from last season's 24-win team, Hewitt believes his current edition can score more. That is, if they come to value possession.

"Even with all of the turnovers we were the highest scoring team in the CAA," Hewitt said. "If we can hold onto the ball a little more, get more shots, hey, maybe we add another 5-10 points to our scoring average per game."

College Football Playoff projections: Bring on the chaos

College Football Playoff projections: Bring on the chaos

College football fans have learned to expect the unexpected. The unpredictability of the sport is exactly why we love it. So, when looking at the first two years of the College Football Playoff, you can't help but feel like something is missing.

The playoff has been a bit too...clean.

Sure, there was the mini controversy of Ohio State jumping ahead of TCU in the final rankings in 2014, but everyone outside the state of Texas understood why that happened. While TCU and Baylor were getting participation trophies for being co-champs of the Big 12, the Buckeyes were rolling over Wisconsin in the Big Ten Championship Game.

Other than that, the playoff has worked exceptionally well with little question as to who the top four teams in the nation have been the past two seasons. That cannot possibly continue.

SEE THE COLLEGE FOOTBALL PLAYOFF PROJECTION HERE

The BCS system seemed to work well when it first began too, but then every nightmare scenario possible in a foolishly restrictive two-team system began to play out annually.

So what are the nightmare scenarios for the College Football Playoff? A non-power conference team or Notre Dame could go undefeated, a two-loss team could win its conference, an undefeated team could loss in the conference championship game, two teams in the same conference could establish themselves as the top teams in the nation. A team with an easy strength of schedule could finish the season as the only undefeated team, and those are just the ones we know about. There could be all sorts of whacky scenarios no one has even thought of that play out over the course of the season.

While a four-team playoff is certainly better than a two-team one, it is still restrictive to a point that could cause some real problems come December. So far, that hasn't happened.

College football is due for some chaos.

With that in mind here are my preseason College Football Playoff projections, featuring two teams from the same conference reaching the playoff for the first time.

Virginia Tech Hokies football schedule 2016: Dates, times and where to watch

Virginia Tech Hokies football schedule 2016: Dates, times and where to watch

The Virginia Tech Hokies will begin the 2016 football season at Lane Stadium on Saturday, one week before the Battle at Bristol against Tennessee.

Justin Fuente's first game as head coach will come against the Liberty Flames. Here are the details: 

Who: Liberty Flames vs. Virginia Tech Hokies

What: Week 1 of the 2016 College football season

When: 12:30 p.m., ET, Saturday, Sept. 3

Where: Lane Stadium, Blacksburg, Va.

TV Channel: ACC Network

Virginia Tech Hokies 2016 football schedule:

Game 1 on Sat., Sept. 3: vs. Liberty, 12:30 p.m. on ACC Network

Game 2 on Sat., Sept. 10: Battle at Bristol vs. Tennessee at Bristol Motor Speedway, 8 p.m. on ABC

Game 3 on Sat., Sept. 17: vs. Boston College, 3:30 p.m. on ESPNU

Game 4 on Sat., Sept. 24: vs. East Carolina, time TBA

Game 5 on Sat., Oct. 8: at North Carolina, time TBA

Game 6 on Sat., Oct. 15: at Syracuse, time TBA

Game 7 on Thu., Oct. 20: vs. Miami, 7 p.m. on ESPN

Game 8 on Thu., Oct. 27: at Pittsburgh, 7 p.m. on ESPN

Game 9 on Sat., Nov. 5: at Duke, time TBA

Game 10 on Sat., Nov. 12: vs. Georgia Tech, time TBA

Game 11 on Sat., Nov. 19: at Notre Dame, 3:30 p.m. on NBC

Game 12 on Sat., Nov. 26: vs. Virginia, time TBA

RELATED: JUCO TRANSFER NAMED HOKIES' STARTING QB FOR OPENER

Juco transfer named Hokies' starting quarterback for opener

Juco transfer named Hokies' starting quarterback for opener

In his first game with the Virginia Tech Hokies, Jerod Evans will be leading the team as the starting quarterback, head coach Justin Fuente announced on Thursday. The quarterback competition started as a two-man race between Evans and fifth-year senior Brenden Motley before a late surge by true freshman Josh Jackson turned it into a three-way battle. In the end, however, the decision was no surprise.

Evans, a junior transfer, began his college career at Air Force in 2013. He transferred to Trinity Valley Community College where he developed into a dynamic talent. In 2015, Evans threw for 395.5 yards per game and 38 touchdowns in just eight games before a wrist injury ended his season.

RELATED: HOKIES REVEAL UNIFORMS FOR BATTLE AT BRISTOL

Rated as the No. 1 dual-threat JUCO quarterback in the country, Evans was recruited by Fuente while he was still at Memphis and chose to follow the head coach to Blacksburg.

New coaches are rarely afforded the opportunity of starting their own recruit in their first season at a new school. Given that and the high potential of Evans as a playmaker, it was ultimately no surprise to hear Fuente peg him as the starter.

The announcement came with one caveat, however. Evans was named the starter specifically for the opener against Liberty, but not beyond that. Granted, Evans would have to play pretty poorly to force Fuente into switching starters the week before the Battle at Bristol against Tennessee, but an opener against an FCS team should allow for Fuente to play multiple quarterbacks. If Motley outplays Evans, perhaps it could reignite the quarterback battle.

Even so, Thursday's announcement shows the starting job is now Evans to lose.

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