Year 2 of the Brent Pry era in Blacksburg ended on a high note with a 41-20 win over Tulane in the Military Bow. While the 7-6 season was a step in the right direction after a 3-8 campaign in Year 1, Pry only managed to amass the 51st-ranked recruiting class in the country and just four incoming transfers.
The offseason has not felt as celebratory as the bowl game win in the driving rain did. Still, Kyrone Drones is returning, this time entrenched as the starting quarterback, and Brayshul Tuten is coming back to lead the 23rd-ranked rushing attack in the nation. There is reason for optimism in Blacksburg.
There is also a lot of returning talent on the offense, including along the offensive line and at wide receiver, but that doesn’t mean every player coming back should be handed a starting spot on the Hokies depth chart. Continuity is good, but complacency for the sake of familiarity has many times been a coach's undoing.
There are a few spots on the offense that Pry and his offensive coordinator Tyler Bowen should reevaluate this offseason. Even Pry’s 20th-ranked defense has a big hole to plug.
In 2023, Parker Clements started at right tackle for the Hokies for the second straight season, and after his 2,086 snaps since 2021, there is more than enough evidence that the Hokies need to upgrade at the position.
Even after the change at quarterback to Kyron Drones, Virginia Tech was not much of a passing offense. The Hokies finished 97th in the country averaging 201.7 passing yards per game. The offense ranked 100th in attempts, and in the 436 pass-blocking snaps Clements was on the field, he allowed a team-high 22 pressures and was second allowing four sacks.
Despite those shaky statistics, Clements was better in the passing game than he was helping out Drones and running back Brayshul Tutten when the Hokies kept the ball on the ground.
As a team, Tech averaged 5.0 yards per carry, which ranked 24th in the country, but on off-tackle runs to the right side, the Hokies averaged just 3.6 yards per carry with a long of only nine yards. On Tuten’s carries off the right side, he only managed 2.7 yards an attempt, with a total of 32 yards on 12 carries, and miraculously he averaged 2.84 yards after contact on those runs. That means, on average, Tuten was contacted 0.13 yards behind the line of scrimmage on runs to Clements' side.
This offseason, Brent Pry did his best to address the problem, signing offensive tackle Montravious Cunningham from Georgia State out of the transfer portal. Cunningham should be given every opportunity to start, even if it means moving a two-year starter to the bench.