Nov 30, 2013; Charlottesville, VA, USA; Virginia Cavaliers defensive players line up against Virginia Tech Hokies offensive players in the first quarter at Scott Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Geoff Burke-USA TODAY Sports
When Frank Beamer hired Scot Loeffler as the Hokies new offensive coordinator fans of the orange and maroon rejoiced. Fans thought the days of an offense that was ineffective were gone and a distant memory. Loeffler brought a fresh set of plays and new philosophy to the Hokie offense which over the years had become predictable and stale. Last year however the offense seemed to revert to a similar song from years before. The Hokies ranked near the bottom of the NCAA, ranking 103rd in rushing and 63rd in passing with a total ranking of 102nd overall.
The Hokies’ rushing attack was weak last season only averaging 119 yards a game. Logan Thomas accounted for many of these yards because when the play broke down he was able to gain positive yards instead of taking sacks. Also, Loeffler added the read option aspect into the Hokies’ offense allowing Thomas to use his large frame to grind up yards. The running backs were near nonexistent as far as gaining meaningful yards. Fans miss the days of a potent Hokie rushing attack. Hopefully, Loeffler can return the rushing attack back to dominance like the years of Lee Suggs and Kevin Jones. Trey Edmunds led the way last year at the running back position before suffering a season ending injury. Edmunds, however, only rushed for over a hundred yards only twice. He will return to the lineup in the fall but will miss spring practice to continue to rehab his injury. He will likely be joined in the back field by J.C. Coleman who has proven himself as the starter in spring practice with the absence of Edmunds. The x-factor in the rotation will be early enrollee Marshawn Williams. Williams is still listed right now as a 3rd string running back but has impressed coaches all spring long with his physical play. If Williams continues to impress he could end up being a change of pace back that could deliver punishing runs similar to those delivered by Logan Thomas last year.
Oct 5, 2013; Blacksburg, VA, USA; Virginia Tech Hokies quarterback Logan Thomas (3) tacked the snap as offensive linesman Caleb Farris (79) and Jonathan McLaughlin (71) block in the second quarter at Lane Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Bob Donnan-USA TODAY Sports
Before the Hokies’ running backs can become as dominate as in years past the offensive line has to become more consistent in their play. The line has experience at the center position with Caleb Farris and at the left tackle position with Jonathan McLaughlin. Both started in all thirteen games last year. Loeffler hopes to find other help on the line in the form of Augie Conte and Wyatt Teller. Both are listed on the first team depth chart as of the last listing. Conte has an extra year of experience on Teller which he hopes to use to earn a starting job come fall. Conte impressed the coaching staff in winter workouts showing increasing physical gifts. Teller will be more of a work in progress as he tries to transition from the defensive side of the ball to the offensive. However, it seems that the line is going to need to work harder from the results of the last spring scrimmage. The defensive line created all kinds of havoc which means either the offensive line has taken a step back or the defensive line is as good as advertised.
The bright spot of the Hokies’ offense last year was the passing game. Even though they ranked 63rd in the nation, over the course of the season the passing game became a more consistent option to move the ball. Loeffler has a decision to make at the quarterback position. Mark Leal has had a horrible spring and was passed by Brenden Motley. However, both of these quarterbacks were less than impressive in the last spring scrimmage. Early enrollee Andrew Ford struggled as well and will need to impress the staff in the spring game to avoid being red shirted. Transfer Michael Brewer should like his chances of coming in and winning the starting job in the fall. The position needs stability in order to guide the offense back to the days of old.
Nov 16, 2013; Blacksburg, VA, USA; Virginia Tech Hokies wide receiver Willie Byrn (82) catches a touchdown pass to tie the score in the fourth quarter as Maryland Terrapins defensive back Sean Davis (21) defends. The Terapins defeated the Hokies 27-24 in overtime at Lane Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Bob Donnan-USA TODAY Sports
The passing game will be helped with the returning receivers. The receiving core is a very talented group lead by Josh Stanford and Demitri Knowles. In the previous season both proved to be excellent playmakers on the outside. As spring progresses, both are continuing to prove to be excellent playmakers. They are joined by Willie Byrn who had many clutch catches including the game winner against Marshall last season. A pleasant surprise is the emergence of former quarterback Carlis Parker, who has shown he can make the big catches as well as gain yards after the catch. The tight end position could prove to be where the most versatility lies. Kalvin Cline was forced into duty last year due to injuries and made the most of it. He caught 26 passes for 321 yards and two touchdowns. He is missing spring practice because of injury. Because of Cline’s injury, Bucky Hodges has been allowed to emerge as an interesting option for Scot Leoffler’s offense. Hodges was recruited as a quarterback but was moved to tight end because of injuries. Hodges specific skill set could cause a return of the “Wild Turkey” offense which was run by Greg Boone. Hodges seems to have not loss too much of his quarterback skill as he has been tossing deep passes to receivers during scrimmages.
It seems the Hokies offense can only go up based on their national rank. The talent is definitely there it just has to be tapped to its full potential. Loeffler has a variety of options for his offensive plan. Now all that is left is to see is if he can use these options to create as winning and successful scheme.