Sep 13, 2014; Blacksburg, VA, USA; Virginia Tech Hokies quarterback Michael Brewer (12) hands the ball off to running back Marshawn Williams (42) during the second quarter at Lane Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Jeremy Brevard-USA TODAY Sports
The Virginia Tech Hokies have had some big ups and downs already this season with the Hokies proving that they have the potential to be a team that can win the ACC Coastal, and give themselves a shot at the ACC title and a spot in the College Football Playoff. This Hokies’ team is definitely good this year but the high amount of youth on the roster is a big reason why the Hokies seem likely to be a top 10 or 15 team entering next season.
The Hokies have a lot of talent at running back with freshmen Marshawn Williams and Shai McKenzie but they could be doing even better if they had some better blocking. Marshawn Williams has been able to power through many times to get extra yards and make the Hokies’ run blocking not look as bad in some cases.
However, OL Coach Stacy Searels has to get his offensive line to improve the run blocking a lot.
The Hokies have averaged 3.8 yards per carry which is one of the worst totals at the collegiate level and is absolutely unacceptable. A good running game should at least be averaging 4.4 to 4.6 yards per carry and the Hokies are not even close to that level which is definitely a major concern.
Sep 6, 2014; Columbus, OH, USA; Virginia Tech Hokies offensive linesman Jonathan McLaughlin (71) against the Ohio State Buckeyes at Ohio Stadium. Virginia Tech defeated Ohio State 35-21. Mandatory Credit: Andrew Weber-USA TODAY Sports
Some of that can be blamed on some of the play calls but the execution and overall blocking has been an issue. The Hokies may have had to make a comeback this past Saturday but the Hokies had to rely on the passing game without much run support as Michael Brewer threw the ball 56 times.
I don’t think anybody would have ever thought a Virginia Tech quarterback would throw the football 56 times in a game but that in some ways shows a lack of trust by Loeffler in his run blocking. On top of that, the shift to primarily passing and very limited run plays came in the second half not only because of the needed comeback but also because of the offensive line struggles.
The Hokies have three seniors on the offensive line and Searels needs to make sure that not only this offensive line improves its run blocking but also the young players that are future starters also keep improving like Wyatt Teller, Wade Hansen, Parker Osterloh, and Eric Gallo.
For now, the Hokies’ current starting five needs to improve especially seniors Caleb Farris and David Wang, and sophomore Augie Conte on the interior opening up some holes and getting to the second level. The improvement of the blocking of offensive tackles Jonathan McLaughlin and Laurence Gibson is also needed to help create more space on the outside and help with the off-tackle runs.
The Hokies have been dominate on many running plays this season and shouldn’t be relying on a few good running plays and jet sweeps to be the productive running plays.
If the Hokies’ run blocking improves, expect the running game to take off and the Hokies’ offense to improve with a new found balance that Virginia Tech needs to improve.