Virginia Tech Football: 4 Players Who Will Help the Hokies Offense in 2014

Alex Koma@AlexKomaVTContributor IIIJanuary 9, 2014

Virginia Tech Football: 4 Players Who Will Help the Hokies Offense in 2014

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    Trey Edmunds is one player who can help Virginia Tech's offense explode in 2014.
    Trey Edmunds is one player who can help Virginia Tech's offense explode in 2014.Darren McCollester/Getty Images

    For the last few seasons, there is no question that the Virginia Tech football team has been carried by its defense, but that could change in 2014.

    There’s reason to be concerned about the offense, given some of the players who are leaving. After all, for all his flaws, quarterback Logan Thomas accounted for an absurd percentage of the total offense these past two seasons.

    Bud Foster should ensure that the defense will still be talented, but for once, the offense might be able to pick up some of the slack. 

    The team will experience some growing pains as it breaks in a new quarterback, whether that ends up being veteran Mark Leal or a promising freshman like Andrew Ford or Chris Durkin. Nevertheless, a lot of talent will surround whoever ends up taking snaps under center for the Hokies.

    When Thomas first started for the team, he was unproven, as he had spent most of the preseason at tight end. But the combination of a veteran offensive line, star running back David Wilson and a pair of fantastic receivers in Jarrett Boykin and Danny Coale helped the young signal-caller thrive. This year’s group of offensive talent can help Tech’s new quarterback do the same in 2014. 

    After spending another year in offensive coordinator Scot Loeffler’s system, these four players can help take Tech’s offense to the next level in 2014.

4. Jonathan McLaughlin, Left Tackle

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    The offensive line is often the most overlooked part of the offense, but in Tech’s case, the unit could be a huge strength next season.

    The line will only lose one starter in guard Andrew Miller, and while the group will feel that particular loss, the consistency that it has established will benefit whomever starts at quarterback.

    The new QB’s best friend on the line should be left tackle Jonathan McLaughlin. The freshman burst onto the scene in spring practice and never relinquished his hold on the starting job, missing only 11 offensive snaps all season.

    He hasn’t been perfect, but he was excellent for a first-year player on the line’s most difficult position.

    Some talented pass-rushers gave him trouble, as he allowed three sacks to Maryland’s Andre Monroe and two to Boston College’s Kasim Edebali, but for the most part he held up well under intense pressure. 

    He held linebacker and top-10 NFL prospect Anthony Barr to just three tackle assists in the Sun Bowl, and he stymied the similarly talented Alabama linebacker Adrian Hubbard, as the video shows.

    McLaughlin still needs to work on his technique, but he should be a real boon for the offense going forward.

3. Josh Stanford, Wide Receiver

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    The Hokies struggled in 2012 without the likes of Boykin and Coale, and although the receiving corps was never great in 2013, it has the potential to break out in 2014.

    Tech had three different receivers eclipse the 600-yard mark this season: Willie Byrn, Demitri Knowles and Josh Stanford.

    While Stanford might have had the worst statistical season of the trio with 640 yards and a score, he started to excel over the back half of the season.

    He caught six passes for 171 yards against Boston College and seven for 107 yards against Miami, including the physical touchdown shown in the video. 

    He showed a real connection with Thomas as the season progressed, particularly when it came to running post routes, and he evolved into the Hokies’ most consistent receiver.

    He’ll be a weapon next season, particularly with another season of development. He was only a redshirt freshman this year and could be an excellent target next season.

2. Ryan Malleck, Tight End

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    The staff was distraught when tight end Ryan Malleck suffered a season-ending shoulder injury during training camp, and the coaches will be glad to have him back in 2014. 

    His injury did have one positive: The team ended up starting freshman Kalvin Cline, who turned into a pleasant surprise with 321 receiving yards and two scores. But he needs to improve in the blocking department, and he will do much better as a complement to Malleck than as the sole threat.

    With Malleck returning, the Hokies have some depth at the position. The junior is a physical blocker but also a receiving threat down the field, as the video shows.

    Between Malleck, Cline, the newly converted quarterback Bucky Hodges and incoming recruit Xavier Burke, the tight end position has gone from thin to one of the deepest.

    Having multiple talented tight ends with a veteran starter like Malleck will allow Loeffler to add new wrinkles to the offense and make it truly exciting.

1. Trey Edmunds, Running Back

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    ESPN’s Mark May and Lou Holtz riled up Hokies fans when they asserted that Virginia Tech has yet to find its next great running back, and that’s because Tech fans have gotten a chance to watch Trey Edmunds.

    His numbers aren’t eye popping. He only had 675 yards and 10 touchdowns on the year, yet they don’t come close to explaining his potential.

    He made huge waves with his 132-yard performance against Alabama to open the season, but he struggled with his vision over most of the campaign. 

    Edmunds often failed to hit the hole with consistency early on, but in the back half of the season, he started to find his footing. He ran for 228 yards over the course of the last three games and seemed to be getting comfortable in the offense. 

    Accordingly, it was poor timing that he broke his leg at the end of the season, right in the middle of what Frank Beamer told The Virginian-Pilot was Edmunds' "best game since he came to Virginia Tech” against Virginia.

    He was unstoppable at times in that game and scored the long touchdown run shown in the video.

    The Hokies’ new quarterback will have to lean on Edmunds and the running game as he gets comfortable in the offense, but the RB has shown flashes of stardom that indicate he’s up to the task. 

    Thomas was able to depend on Wilson while the QB found his footing in 2011. If Tech’s new starter can do the same with Edmunds in 2014, then this offense can really take off.