2007 Virginia Tech Preview - Offense

Posted Jun 3, 2007

Preview 2007 Virginia Tech Hokies Offense Preview


Virginia Tech Hokies

Preview 2007 - Offense

- 2007 Virginia Tech Preview | 2007 VT Defense Preview
2007 VT Depth Chart | 2006 CFN Virginia Tech Preview

What you need to know: Can Tech win a national title with a mediocre offense? It was 99th in the nation in total offense, but it did a great job of taking advantage of all the breaks generated by the defense. Eight starters return, led by ACC Player of the Year candidate Branden Ore at running back, but he needs the line to be healthy for a full season, and better. The passing game has good pieces, but it has to be far more consistent considering there are four talented senior receivers returning. Quarterback Sean Glennon had a good off-season, and now it has to translate into better production.

Returning Leaders
Passing: Sean Glennon
170-302, 2,191 yds, 11 TD, 11 INT
Rushing: Branden Ore
241 carries, 1,137 yds, 16 TD
Receiving: Josh Morgan
33 catches, 448 yds, 4 TD

Star of the offense: Junior RB Branden Ore
Player that has to step up and become a star: Junior QB Sean Glennon
Unsung star on the rise: Sophomore OT Ed Wang
Best pro prospect: Ore
Top three all-star candidates: 1) Ore, 2) WR Eddie Royal, 3) OT Duane Brown
Strength of the offense: Wide receiver experience, Ore
Weakness of the offense:
Veteran line depth, proven passing game production


Projected Starter
There was expected to be a big quarterback battle after junior Sean Glennon had a bad year completing 56% of his passes for 2,191 yards and 11 touchdowns with 11 interceptions. Problems on the line didn't help out, but he struggled mightily with his consistency, closing out with an awful 94-yard, three interception performance against Georgia. He worked hard, was much sharper and much smoother this spring, and now he appears to be a leader for the offense, rather than just being along for the ride. At 6-4 and 221 pounds, he has good size and a little bit of mobility, but he's not a runner.

Projected Top Reserves: While Glennon appears to have taken the number one job by the horns, sophomore Ike Whitaker isn't far behind. Back after getting treated for an alcohol abuse problem, he'll make things very interesting if he keeps progressing in practices. At 6-4 and 204 pounds, he has great size, a fantastic arm, and the speed and athleticism to become a dangerous all-around star.

The third man in the mix is junior Cory Holt, a good-sized reserve with good mobility and a huge arm. What he hasn't been is consistent when given the chance. He has the measurables, and he's been around to system for a few years, and now he has to provide more of a push for the backup job.

On the way is
Tyrod Taylor, the team's top recruit when phenomenal speed and a decent, accurate arm. He's not huge at only 6-1 and 185 pounds, but his athleticism makes up for it. If he sees the field and burns his redshirt season, that'll likely mean something disastrous has happened to the season.

Watch Out For ... Glennon to be far better. He might not make the major step up like, say, Bryan Randall did a few years ago, but he showed this spring that he'll be more accurate, and will do a better job of utilizing his talented receiving corps.
Strength: The backups. Glennon might be the starter for the next two years, but there will be a sizeable portion of Hokie fans who'll be very, very curious to see what Whitaker can do. Glennon will be good; Whitaker might be special.
Weakness: Glennon's running. The Hokie offense likes to have a quick, mobile quarterback who can take off at any time. That's not Glennon. If he's not accurate, with a completion percentage around 65%, his "game management" skills don't always make up for the other problems.
Outlook: This could get interesting. Either Glennon will be better, and the offense will benefit, or Glennon will struggle, and there will be a quarterback controversy. While Glennon will be better than he was last year, the moment he has a bad stretch, or loses a game, there might be a call to get Whitaker in.
Rating: 7

Running Backs

Projected Starters
It'll be Branden Ore, Branden Ore, and a dose of Branden Ore thrown in. The junior was the entire offense at times last season highlighted by a two-game stretch against Southern Miss and Clemson with 410 yards and four touchdowns. With good power in a 5-11 and 202-pound body, he's mostly a quick back who makes things happen inside and out. After issues earlier in his career, he's matured off the field, and can be counted on time and again on in coming off a 1,137-yard, 16 touchdown season. He can also catch a little bit.

Senior Carlton Weatherford is a former walk-on who's carved out a role for himself as a blocker and a high-energy spark-plug for the ground game. After bulking up to 230 pounds over the last few years, he should do even more to pave the way for Ore, and he should be used a big more as a receiver.

Projected Top Reserves: With George Bell transferring to D-II Catawba College, sophomore Kenny Lewis, Jr. will play an even bigger role after finishing second on the team with 215 yards and two touchdowns. A 5-9, 195-pound speed back who spent most of last season getting his feet wet again after spending two years in the Cincinnati Reds farm system, he's a mature 24-year-old true sophomore who should be able to handle himself well as a starter if something happens to Ore, like he did late last year.

On the way is super-recruit Darren Evans, a 6-1, 204-pound speed back out of Indianapolis who
rushed for 7,220 yards and 127 career touchdowns, leading his team to four Class 5A state championships. He scored 61 times as a senior. 61. He has it all, and he might become a key backup early on.

Weatherford might be the starting fullback, but it might be just a question of time before sophomore Kenny Jefferson takes over. He's only 5-9 and 222 pounds, but he's a devastating blocker who can run a little bit.

Watch Out For ... Lewis to get a lot more work. The passing game will be better, but the Tech offense will still revolve around Ore. He has to be fresh for the big games, meaning the backups need to get 10-15 touches a game. At the moment, that backup is Lewis.
Strength: Ore. When he's on, he's a next-level back who can carry the entire attack and force defenses to focus solely on him. Everyone will go into every game focusing on stopping Ore first, but he still can produce when he's a marked man ... most of the time.
Weakness: Backups. Evans or Jahre Cheeseman had better be ready to roll if called on. George Bell might have been a major disappointment considering his prep hype (injuries had a lot to do with that), but he was still a decent insurance policy. 
Outlook: Can Ore stay in one piece? He got a lot of carries over the first ten games of last year and suffered an ankle injury. As long as he's right, the running game will be effective. If he's dinged up, there will be big problems. Even with Ore's big year, the Tech ground attack was still 90th in the nation. That'll change with the expected improvement on the line.
Rating: 7.5


Projected Starters
The corps might lose leading receiver David Clowney, but it gets back the team's yardage leader, senior flanker  Eddie Royal with 31 catches for 497 yards and three touchdowns. One problem; he had seven of those catches and 102 yards in one game (the loss to Georgia Tech). Unlike the rest of the main receivers, he's not all that huge at 5-10 and 181 yards, but he makes up for it with his speed and quickness. Shackled a bit by the passing game over the last few years, he's a home run hitter who mostly slaps long singles and a few doubles.

Senior Justin Harper isn't always the most productive split end, but with his 6-4, 204-pound size, good deep speed, and the potential to be far more productive than he's been over his career, he's too enticing not to get on the field. He has to be far more consistent and use his advantages to create more mismatches after catching just 21 passes for 324 yards and a score last season.

The tight ends will likely be more involved in the passing game this year after rarely getting anything their way. 6-3, 281-pound sophomore Greg Boone is more like a smaller third tackle. He also catches like one. He has the athleticism to do far more, but first, he has to improve his concentration when the ball comes his way with too many drops and only five catches for 68 yards and a score.

Projected Top Reserves: Harper might be listed as the starter going into the fall, but that'll probably change, 6-1, 219-pound senior Josh Morgan started most of the time at split end last season making 33 catches for 448 yards and a team-leading four touchdowns, and now he needs to do more. With his size and next-level potential, he could be something special if he can put together all his talents and be the type of number one overall receiver who most secondaries have to worry about.

5-11, 192-pound senior Josh Hyman has shown flashes of brilliance over the course of his career, but he regressed last season, thanks to a variety of injuries, catching just 16 passes for 111 yards. While not the threat Royal is, he can stretch the field at either receiver spot.

Sophomore Brandon Dillard, one of the stars of spring ball who has the speed and athleticism to do a little bit of everything, has the potential to do big things if he can get time .His problem will be fighting through the veterans to crack the lineup as more than backup.

Behind Boone at tight end will be sophomore Sam Wheeler, who quickly grew into a good receiver making 13 catches for 199 yards and two touchdowns. At 6-3 and 252 pounds, he has good size to go along with the speed to make several big catches. He can't block, but he's too dangerous a target to not get more work.

Watch Out For ... the tight ends. Not used last year after losing the sure-handed Jeff King, the Tech tight ends couldn't hang on to the ball and struggled from the start. Boone should be better when the ball comes his way, while Wheeler is a rising star for the passing attack.
Strength: Prototypes and experience. Clowney led the team in receiving, but he was hardly a killer. Four senior receivers are back with a size, speed, and a world of potential. This is a receiving corps out of central casting, but while it looks like Tarzan ...
Weakness: ... it plays like Jane. This group has had a world of potential for several years and hasn't busted out. Yeah, the quarterbacks haven't exactly been Peyton Manning throwing the ball, but the receivers should've been good enough to have made the passers better.
Outlook: Is this the year it all comes together? The four seniors have to finally be consistent and make big things happen when they get their chances. Several promising young players have to somehow get a little bit of time to be ready for next year, but there might not be enough throws to go around. We're not exactly talking about the Texas Tech passing game here. Even so, the talent is in place to be far better.
Rating: 7.5

Offensive Linemen

Projected Starters
The line underwent some major changes in the short spring, most notably the move of senior Duane Brown from his normal spot at right tackle to the left side. At 6-5 and 310 pounds, he's a big blocker who moved over from tight end to the line as a junior, and now is expected to shine. While athletic, he's gotten bigger over the last few years and should be the leader up front on key plays.

Next to him at guard will be 6-5, 351-pound Nick Marshman, who saw two starts last year playing mostly on the outside. Out of position at tackle, he's far better suited for guard with massing size and tremendous strength. Even with his girth, he's athletic enough to play anywhere on the line.

Back at center is 6-3, 318-pound junior Ryan Shuman after starting throughout last year at left guard. With Marshman moving to the spot, Shuman can go back to his more natural position with the loss of steady starter Dan McGrath. Shuman's a true leader who won't have a problem making all the right line calls. The only question is a knee injury that limited him last year.

6-3, 320-pound sophomore Sergio Render started all 13 games last season as one of the rocks of the offense, despite just being a true freshman, but he's recovering from off-season knee surgery. He's good enough to be expected to grow into an All-ACC star before he's done, but he has to be more consistent.

Former tight end Ed Wang will step in for Brown, who moved sides. The 6-5, 304-pound sophomore is athletic and tough, but he'll have to go through a few growing pains as he has to learn how to handle himself in a full-time role. In time, he'll be great in pass protection.

Projected Top Reserves: While Marshman is good enough to start somewhere on the line, he'll be pushed for the left guard job by junior Matt Welsh. While he's not small, at 6-4 and 295 pounds he's over 50 pounds lighter than Marshman. If needed, he could play center.

Behind Render at right guard will be 6-6, 290-pound sophomore Richard Graham, who's quick enough to play tackle and tough enough to play guard. He'll be a key blocker in the rotation both inside and out.

The understudy behind Brown at left tackle will be redshirt freshman Aaron Brown, a 6-6, 300-pound riser who spent last year hitting the weights hard. While he might not quite be ready for a full-time job, he should be a decent backup as the season goes on.

Watch Out For ... far better overall production. The line struggled with injuries and general inconsistency, and as long as the starting front five can stay healthy, it shouldn't be the sore spot it was at times.
Strength: Size. While the 351-pound Marshman skews things a bit, the other four projected starters are all well north of the 300 mark. The starting five averages around 320 pounds per man.
Weakness: Backup tackles. The Hokies are counting on two redshirt freshmen, along with Wang, who's not quite a sure-thing yet on the right side.
Outlook: With Shuman and Duane Brown in the right spots, and with Render and Marshman emerging as good guards, the line should be more productive after allowing 29 sacks and not doing nearly enough for the ground game. If everyone's healthy, the line could grow into a strength.
Rating: 7


Related Stories
2007 Virginia Tech Preview
 -by CollegeFootballNews.com  Jul 22, 2007
2007 Virginia Tech Preview - Defense
 -by CollegeFootballNews.com  Jun 3, 2007
2007 Virginia Tech Preview - Depth Chart
 -by CollegeFootballNews.com  Jun 3, 2007

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