Oct 16, 2014; Pittsburgh, PA, USA; Virginia Tech Hokies running back J.C. Coleman (4) is tackled by Pittsburgh Panthers defensive lineman David Durham (44) and defensive back Ray Vinopal (9) during the second quarter at Heinz Field. Mandatory Credit: Charles LeClaire-USA TODAY Sports
Entering the 2014 season, the offensive line was a big concern for the Virginia Tech Hokies with many people recoginizing that unit could be a major issue for the Hokies this season. However, there was some optimism that the offensive line would show signs of improvement after what Jeff Grimes did last season before leaving to LSU with Stacy Searels coming from Texas to the Hokies.
However, the offensive line has struggled and is the root of the Hokies’ offensive struggles.
The Hokies were outrushed 210-26 last night which is absolutely terrible and a big reason why the Hokies’ offense struggled a lot. Joel Caleb, Sam Rogers, and J.C. Coleman aren’t as good as the three injured Virginia Tech running backs but none of these players really had a chance with very few holes. The Hokies averaged 1.2 yards per carry which has to be one of the worst totals in college football history for a team that had at least 20 carries (22 last night).
Michael Brewer also did not have a comfortable pocket to make plays out of all night and Brewer’s scrambling was a big reason why Pittsburgh’s sack total wasn’t higher than it actually was. Brewer was somehow only sacked 2 times and the pass blocking wasn’t too bad but that sack total could have been higher in this game.
There was a lot of excitement when Stacy Searels arrived as the new Offensive Line Coach but some questionable decisions may have caused the offensive line to regress. The biggest thing is the fact that he had four returning starters including three seniors and yet this offensive line might be the ACC’s worst.
The Hokies’ offensive line started to build some chemistry last season but Searels may have messed that up by moving Caleb Farris to center, David Wang to right guard, Laurence Gibson to left tackle, and Jonathan McLaughlin to right tackle. The Hokies started to show improvement with McLaughlin at left tackle, Farris at left guard, Wang at center, and Gibson at right tackle but Searels has messed up that chemistry.
The high number of penalties for the Hokies have been caused by one unit and that is the offensive line with way too many false starts. When you have an offensive line with four returning starters and three seniors, you should not have an issue like this and the fact that this issue hasn’t been fixed is unacceptable and also hurting the Hokies.
The Virginia Tech offensive line has been quite bad this season and if the problems aren’t solved this season, the Hokies might have to consider going to their fourth offensive line coach in four years. However, Searels’s system might turn out to help in the long run, especially with the solid play of sophomore left guard Augie Conte and that could be a sign for the future.
Either way, Searels has a lot of work on his hands and the offensive line must improve.
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