Numbers Crunch No. 2: Va. Tech Hokies Three-Week Report Card for the Offense

Scott GlesnerCorrespondent ISeptember 22, 2009

ATLANTA - SEPTEMBER 05:  Quarterback Tyrod Taylor #5 of the Virginia Tech Hokies against the Alabama Crimson Tide during the Chick-fil-A Kickoff Game at Georgia Dome on September 5, 2009 in Atlanta, Georgia.  (Photo by Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images)

As Hokies fans continue to catch their breath, the Virginia Tech football squad goes into this week's Miami game with a 2-1 record.

With games actually played, it is time to look inside that 2-1 record to help look ahead to the future schedule. The first look will be at the Tech offense:

Quarterbacks: B-

Except for mop-up time by Ju-Ju Clayton, this grade is specifically for Tyrod.  This grade is a step up from what it could have been without the Miracle in B-Burg.

Against Alabama, Tyrod (and coaching staff) played it safe...perhaps a little too safe.  Except for a few scrambles, Taylor remained a pocket passer.

This offense is built around a mobile quarterback (or it was). Against Marshall, Taylor remained in the pocket, though there was no need to move around. He just had to hand the ball off.

Taylor remained in the pocket until under two minutes left in the game. He gave Coale time to break his route by scrambling in the backfield. His TD pass to Roberts was a combination of feet and patience (and help from the Cornhuskers not blitzing).

Taylor looks like his main focus is to throw. The offensive staff shares this view. It could be that Taylor is in the mold of a mobile quarterback trying to prove he can be a pocket passer (a la McNabb). 

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These type of quarterbacks seem to go from run-first to run-never. However, this could be the coaching staff expressing their concern on Taylor getting hurt and have their offense in Ju-Ju's hands.

Running Backs: A-

The new question could be will Darren Evans ever start again for the Hokies.  This injury could not have come at the worst time for Evans, who had secured his spot despite being pushed by the two freshmen.

Ryan Williams gets an A. With back-to-back 100-yard games and the running style of both an inside and outside rusher, Virginia Tech may have the complete back in the backfield.

David Wilson, however, has the explosiveness, but he does not have the power to consistently run up the middle. Josh Oglesby is the complete opposite. 

The problem may lie in the coaching staff's laps of using the strengths of these two backs to compliment Williams.

Wide Receivers/Tight Ends: C+

This could have gone with an incomplete before Nebraska's two-deep broke down.  The question is are the receivers giving Taylor enough room, or is Taylor more worried about making a mistake than trusting his receivers.

We now see what happens when Taylor has to make the throws and what his receivers can do when given a chance. Roberts' drop on fourth-down and his subsequent TD grab shows this receiving corps can let mistakes fall by the waist side.

With Boone's injury, the tight ends have not been used all that much in the passing game. Of course, there has not been much of a passing game to start this season.

Offensive Line: A

Experience is a plus for this group. They handled two of the more stout defenses in the country. They also showed what happens when they go up against a not-so-powerful defensive line.

The lack of Taylor's scrambling is due somewhat to his line giving him time to throw.  Williams' success running has been provided by an offensive line Virginia Tech has not seen in a few years. This type of line should give the coaching staff room to develop whatever game plan they need.

Offensive Coaching Plan/Strategy: I

An incomplete grade has been given to the coaching plan/strategy. The reason is there is a feeling there is no plan or strategy.

The usual Beamer-coached team looks to run the ball first. However, the feeling from this season's team is that of someone randomly throwing darts at the playbook.

The first series of the season is a classic example of the randomness.  A three-yard rush, a reverse for five, a time-out, a one-yard pass, and a punt wraps up the first Tech drive against Alabama.

The first call shows the safe and usual rush. The second shows the "trickeration" of a reverse. Then, the confusion sets in and a time-out is burned after only two offensive plays. Finally, it wraps up with the short pass that does not net the first down.

Bryan Stinespring is not known for being an offensive genius. The effort is there, but it does not seem to come together. He has done his research, instituted the pistol, the "Wild Turkey," and the fake reverse after multiple hand-offs.

Sometimes, he tries to be too clever. During the Nebraska game, he used Oglesby to run a sweep, and then he used the quick David Wilson to run up the middle on short yardage. 

Maybe he thinks that Nebraska will not think of those players running those plays. Maybe there is a reason they would not think that and do not need to.

Now, the uncertainty could be in player performance. The skill players are still young. There could be mistakes that they commit that the fans do not see that ruin a good play.

Another thing could be that Taylor is trying to protect not only the ball, but himself.  He has not forced any passes, but until the end of the Nebraska game, there have not been too many deep passes this season.

Finally, the running back passes were a plus against Alabama. They were effective in controlling the rush. However, the tight end passes have been missing to free up the receivers. The injury that has hampered Greg Boone could be hampering the tight end effort.

With ACC play looming in the foreground, the Hokie offense has the key components to be explosive.  Allowing these players to play to their strengths and keep the play-calling fresh and wide open can help improve the offensive output. 

Sometimes, gambling and playing to win is better than playing prevent and playing not to lose. Nebraska can confirm that last statement.

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