The Virginia Tech Way: Hokies Look to Get Over Offensive Hump in 2008
Football is played by thousands, watched by millions, and has become the most popular sport in America. As the college football season approaches, everyone is getting anxious while they await their team's season opener.
In Blacksburg, football is king. Come game time, home or away, the streets are vacant as the Hokie faithful cheer on their team.
In many ways Virginia Tech football resembles the blue-collar area that is Southwest Virginia: tough, hard-nosed football led by the defense and special teams. There isn't a team in the nation that has had more dominating special teams in the last decade than Virginia Tech. The defense has been ranked near the top every year in recent history.
So if you're asking yourself, "Why hasn't Virginia Tech won a national championship?" the answer would be inconsistent offense.
Everyone says, "Defense wins championships." Well, okay, but you need offense to win football games. There hasn't been a national champion in college football that was good at only defense. Teams that are well built in all facets of the game win it all.
With an inconsistent offense, the Hokies haven't been able to get over the hump.
They have the most stable coaching staff in the nation, with most of the assistant coaches and coordinators being there for at least 10 years, and some much longer.
This stability has allowed Virginia Tech to dominate recruiting in the state of Virginia, and the Hokies haven't been tested by their archrival Virginia in about 15 years. Frank Beamer consistently has a top 20 recruiting class.
Still scratching your head? Yeah, me too. Let’s talk about the offense.
In the past, Virginia Tech was well known for their rushing attack on offense. With players like Michael Vick, Lee Suggs, and Kevin Jones coming through the school, the rushing game was unstoppable.
However, since Bryan Randall graduated in 2004, Virginia Tech has had serious issues on offense. The biggest of the problems has been the quarterback position.
I don’t really want to talk about Marcus Vick, because he was given a number of chances to clean up his act and refused to change. This forced Sean Glennon onto the scene, and up until the second half of last season Glennon had been disappointing.
Then there is Tyrod Taylor. Last year Taylor was our biggest recruit since Michael Vick, and Frank Beamer wasn't afraid to use the true freshman quarterback last year.
However, it's too easy just to blame the quarterbacks for the offensive struggles, so I'm not going to put it all on them. The offensive line's pass protection has been abysmal the past few seasons.
The main reason Glennon was benched last season in the LSU game was due to the fact the offensive line couldn't hold their blocks. Beamer had to put in Taylor, who has earned the nickname T-Mobile, just so there would be some production on the ground at the quarterback position.
The line did get better as the season went on, and when that happened, Sean Glennon was fantastic.
For this upcoming season, there are some questions about the Hokies because of the players lost to graduation. Honestly, I'm not that concerned. Frank Beamer is going to be putting a young and very athletic team on the football field every game this season.
The defense is returning only four starters, but most of the guys who will be starting this season received significant playing time last season. Virginia Tech football is always about transitioning from season to season, and often times the Hokies will surprise you when you think they're going to have a down year.
For example, in 2004 Kevin Jones decided to leave early for the NFL, and Marcus Vick was suspended for the entire season, but Bryan Randall led a very young Virginia Tech team to the Sugar Bowl.
I do believe the two-quarterback system will be used this season, but I think Sean Glennon will receive most of the snaps. Glennon outplayed Taylor in the last eight games of last season, and he had a better spring than Taylor.
I attended the spring game in April and I was disappointed with Taylor’s performance. Keep in mind he had missed some of the spring practice with an injury, so that could have affected his play.
I'm not sure what to expect at the running back position this season. Kenny Lewis Jr. is injured but should be back by week two, so the job for opening day starter is a four-way race between Darren Evans, Josh Oglesby, Ryan Williams, and Jahre Cheeseman. Ryan Williams is the Hokies' top recruit of this year’s class and could get significant playing time if he has a good summer.
At wide receiver there are no returning starters. Brandon Dillard had become the number one guy, but he ruptured his Achilles tendon and will be out for the season. There are a number of freshman wide receivers coming in, but right now it's a three-way race for the starting job.
Former quarterback turned wide receiver Ike Whitaker is entering the summer as the number one receiver. Zack Luckett and Danny Coale are also trying to earn the number one spot. Luckett is the most experienced of the three but didn't get a lot of action last year on offense.
If the name sounds familiar it's because he was a special teams standout last season. If Luckett can become more consistent catching the ball, he can be a huge breakout player in college football this season.
Let's recap. Football the Virginia Tech way is great defense and special teams with an inconsistent offense. I expect much of the same out of the defense and special teams this season, and I'm optimistic about the offense.
The offensive line should pick up where they left off. Losing Duane Brown to the first round of the NFL Draft hurts, but I think Ed Wang will fill the spot nicely.
If Sean Glennon can play like he did at the end of last season, Virginia Tech should have no problem running through their schedule. I say this because their schedule isn't exactly loaded. More on that later.
Expect Virginia Tech to be good all season, with a bump or two in the road, on their way to Tampa Bay in early December.
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