2010 Virginia Tech Preview – Offense
Virginia Tech RB Ryan Williams
CollegeFootballNews.com 2010 Preview - Virginia Tech Hokie Offense
Preview 2010 - Offense
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What You Need To Know: Finally. After being a scapegoat for
years, coordinator Bryan Stinespring mercifully had
something to gush over last season. And the best is
yet to come. The Hokies finally cranked up the
offense in 2009, scoring at least 36 points in the
final four games and relocating the big play. It
turns out that last November and December is going
to be an omen of what's to come. Tech brings back
improving veteran QB Tyrod Taylor, the last two ACC
Newcomers of the year, backs Ryan Williams and
Darren Evans, and top receiver Jarrett Boykin. It's
as much skill position talent that this program has
had in years. If the line can recover from the
graduation of the left side and the staff keeps the
backs happy, the Hokies will have enough firepower
to compensate until the rebuilt D begins to gel.
Star of the offense: Sophomore RB Ryan Williams
Passing: Tyrod Taylor
136-243, 2,311 yds, 13 TDs, 5 INTs
Rushing: Ryan Williams
293 carries, 1,655 yds, 21 TDs
Receiving: Jarrett Boykin
40 catches, 835 yds, 5 TDs
Player who has to step up and become a star: Sophomore LT Nick Becton
Unsung star on the rise: Sophomore WR Marcus Davis
Best pro prospect: Williams
Top three all-star candidates: 1) Williams, 2) Senior QB Tyrod Taylor, 3) Junior WR Jarrett Boykin
Strength of the offense: The ground game, the backfield, big plays, protecting the ball, experience at quarterback
Weakness of the offense: Red zone touchdowns, pass protection, tight end, the left side of the line
Projected Starter: A veteran of 28 career starts, 6-1, 217-pound senior Tyrod Taylor is back for one final season and an opportunity to win a third ACC championship. He made his biggest strides toward becoming a complete quarterback last season, going 136-of-243 for 2,311 yards, 13 touchdowns, and five interceptions to lead the league and rank No. 13 nationally in passing efficiency. Consistent with his exceptional athletic ability, he also added 370 yards and five scores on the ground. More than ever before, he has a total grasp of the offense and has emerged as a dangerous deep-ball thrower, sliding in the pocket rather than bolting from it and averaging 17 yards a completion.
Projected Top Reserves: There's an interesting battle brewing that'll decide the No. 2 job and possibly the starter in 2011. The slight favorite is last year's backup, 6-0, 218-pound sophomore Ju-Ju Clayton. Still unproven, he played sparingly in 2009, completing 1-of-5 passes for 80 yards and a touchdown. Conjuring up images of former Hokie Bryan Randall, he's a heady winner, who isn't off-the-charts physically, but has good arm strength and excellent poise in the pocket.
The new name in the mix is 6-6, 238-pound redshirt freshman Logan Thomas, a wild card giving Clayton all he can handle in the offseason. One of the highest-rated recruits to ever sign with Tech, he's more than just a big body with a big arm. He's also a superb all-around athlete, who moves an awful lot like Ohio State's Terrelle Pryor. While raw, with proper development, he has a bright future in Blacksburg.
Watch Out For .... Clayton to be the backup and Thomas to get on the field at another position. The sophomore is a little more polished and the redshirt freshman can help Tech right now. So what do you do? You allow Thomas to catch some passes since he's a human mismatch and was considered the nation's top tight end coming out of high school.
Strength: Athleticism. Is there a better group of athletes at quarterback in the country than this one? Taylor is running less than when he first arrived, but that shouldn't give anyone a false sense of security. If he gets outside the pocket, he's as dangerous in the open field as one of the Hokie backs.
Weakness: Accuracy. Yes, Taylor has come a long way as a pure passer, but he still has room for growth. Somewhat of an enigma, he's precise on long balls, yet has tendency to sail throws on intermediate routes. He completed less than 56% of his passes, which was only seventh best in the ACC.
Outlook: You can do better than Taylor, but you sure can do a lot worse. He's come a long way in three years, truly becoming a dual-threat, and brings a level of experience and clutch play that's invaluable. He'll absorb a fair amount of contact, so that race for the backup spot could have consequences in the fall.
Projected Starters: Assistant Billy Hite has coached a lot of terrific backs over the last three decades, but this is the best collection of talent he's ever had at his disposal. In sophomore Ryan Williams and junior Darren Evans, Virginia Tech brings back the last two ACC Rookies of the Year and one of the best tandems in America. After Evans suffered a season-ending knee injury in August, Williams failed to skip a beat, running 293 times for 1,655 yards and 21 touchdowns. He also caught 16 passes for 180 yards and a score in an epic debut. A solid 5-10, 211-pounder, he wastes no movement getting to the hole and has the wiggle and game-breaking speed to cripple defenses in the open field.
Evans was never able to follow up on a Freshman All-America debut that included 1,265 yards rushing, 17 receptions, 11 touchdowns, and a school-best 253 yards against Maryland for an exclamation point. Instead, he rehabbed an injury that appears to be fully healed. A very different back than Williams, he's a 6-0, 223-pound workhorse and straight up, between-the-tackles runner. Workmanlike in his approach, he'll look for people to hit and has the balance to keep going after contact.
After splitting time with Kenny Jefferson and playing in all 13 games, 6-0, 235-pound senior Kenny Younger is eyeing the starting fullback job. A physical lead blocker and former walk-on, who can catch the ball if asked, he'll be one of the faceless unsung heroes of this year's ground game.
Projected Top Reserves: At a lot of schools, 5-10, 195-pound sophomore David Wilson would have a feature role by now. At Tech, patience might be his most important attribute. An explosive all-around athlete, with terrific cutback ability, he competed in the 60-meter dash, long jump, and triple jump for the Hokies in the offseason. Much more than just a track guy, he rushed for 334 yards and four scores on 59 yards in his first year.
If 5-9, 206-pound senior Kenny Lewis can remain healthy, which hasn't happened the last two years, it could give the Hokies enough depth to redshirt Wilson this season. He's worked hard to get back to this point, and has the experience and know-how to have a positive influence on the young tailbacks.
Recognizing that touches will be hard to come by, the staff shifted 5-11, 216-pound junior Josh Oglesby from tailback to fullback, where he'll compete with Younger. A much better runner than his competitors, he rushed for 335 yards and two scores on 78 carries a year ago. He'll need to adjust to a more selfless role, but is very powerful and offers a nice option in short yardage.
Watch Out For .... how the carries are distributed. This is a topic that's going to wear out the staff by the time the opener arrives. Williams and Evans have both proven to be all-star feature backs, but now that both are available at the same time, it's up to the staff to maximize their talents while keeping them well-fed. Good luck with that, Hokies.
Strength: Depth of talent. The Hokies have done a marvelous job of recruiting this position over the last three years. They harbor an embarrassment of riches and at least three backs capable of going for 1,000 yards with enough touches. Wilson has a star's ceiling, yet may not even get off the sidelines because of the presence of Williams and Evans.
Weakness: Blocking. Yeah, it's a complete nit-pick, but the Hokies need to replace their fullback and none of the top three backs has more than one season of experience at this level. Sure, they all run exceptionally well, but with young backs, the finer points, such as picking up the blitz, don't typically sink in until later in the career.
Outlook: Two years ago, Tech responded to the dismissal of Branden Ore with Evans. Last year, its answer to Evans' injury was Williams. Now that both are on hand, the biggest challenge will be keeping everyone happy. Add mobile QB Tyrod Taylor into the mix, and opponents won't know where to turn to stop this running attack. ‘Bama is the only other school with an argument about the best backfield in the country .
Projected Starters: It's taken a couple of years of grooming, but the Hokie wide receivers have finally reached a point of stability and productivity. Climbing to the head of the pack at split end is 6-2, 210-pound junior Jarrett Boykin, who's on the brink of becoming an all-star. A long and physical target, he hauled in a team-high 40 balls for 835 yards and five touchdowns. Not only does he have huge hands and a wide catch radius, but he adjusts well to balls in the air and has a knack for getting behind the secondary and making big plays.
At flanker, 6-0, 208-pound juniorDanny Coale is a returning starter looking to hold on to that job. He was second on the team in receiving, making 30 catches for 614 yards and a pair of touchdowns. More steady than spectacular, he has some of the best hands on the team, runs good routes, and will give up his body to make a block that extends a drive. He's a nice complement to the flashier Boykin.
The graduations of Greg Boone and Sam Wheeler have left the Hokies thin at tight end. First in line to fill the void is 6-5, 271-pound senior Andre Smith. A dominant run blocker in the mold of a pulling guard, he's hoping to become more of a threat in the passing game after catching just three balls for 27 yards and a touchdown in 2009.
Projected Top Reserves: Going toe-to-toe with Coale at flanker is 6-2, 196-pound junior Dyrell Roberts, a five-game starter in each of the last two seasons. A running back in high school, he's lacks the polish and consistency of Coale, but is a better athlete and a bigger threat in space. He upped his production a year ago, making 22 catches for 390 yards and three touchdowns.
Although he has just five career catches for 125 yards and a score, 6-4, 234-pound sophomore Marcus Davis is considered an emerging star of the receiving corps. Not only does he have the imposing size to out muscle defensive backs, but he also has uncommon speed and jumping ability for such a big player. A quarterback when he arrived, he has incredible upside if he can polish up the little things that define top receivers.
Watch Out For .... Davis' role to expand considerably. He has that freakish blend of size, strength, and agility that's going to force the staff to get him on the field. Heck, for a program that's on the hunt for a pass-catching tight end, the sophomore could fit the description as a quasi-H-back.
Strength: Physicality. Although Tech won't necessarily burn opponents with their straight-line speed, they are going bully a lot them with a collection of sizable receivers. Roberts aside, everyone is north of 200 pounds, which creates a lot of match up problems. The Hokies averaged 17.5 yards a catch largely because of the receivers' ability to box out on jump balls and shed tackles after initial contact.
Weakness: The tight ends. It's been a few years since Tech has been in such dire shape at the position. Smith has unquestioned value as a run blocker, but what has he proven as a pass-catcher? Someone will need to step up because the Hokies like to use their tight ends liberally in the passing game.
Outlook: With one baby step at a time, the Hokies receiving corps has blossomed into an effective receiving corps that's yet to see its brightest days. Those could begin to materialize in 2010, as Boykin becomes the leading man and the two-deep collectively gets a year older. Tight end still needs to be addressed, which will be a summer objective.
Projected Starters: For the second straight year, Virginia Tech returns three starters to a line that's going to get a facelift on the left side. Leading the way to replace Ed Wang at left tackle is 6-6, 307-pound sophomore Nick Becton, who played in five games and lettered in his first year. From his long arms and agile feet, he has the requisite physical ability to become a pillar, but simply needs more reps to begin realizing his potential.
The favorite to line up next to Becton at left guard is 6-6, 278-pound sophomore Greg Nosal. Rotating between both sides of center, he played in a dozen games and earned some valuable reps. He has the athletic ability and good footwork you'd expect from a former tight end, but still needs to fill out his frame if he's going to withstand a full season of ACC contact in the trenches.
The Hokies will have a familiar face at center, 6-3, 292-pound senior Beau Warren. The third of the Warren brothers to play for the program, he performed well in his first year as a starter, earning All-ACC honorable mention recognition. A little undersized, he's a smart and self-made lineman, who plays with a blue-collar demeanor.
The most seasoned Hokie on the front wall is 6-5, 304-pound junior Blake DeChristopher, a third-year starter at right tackle. An intelligent and ferocious blocker, he does his best work in tight spaces and on running downs. Tech's second lineman to be named honorable mention all-league, he needs to become a more consistent pass blocker to climb up the ACC pecking order.
Providing the finishing touch at right guard is 6-2, 298-pound junior Jaymes Brooks, the team's third returning starter. Arguably the most physical member of the group, he's strong at the point of attack and an outstanding drive blocker in the running game. Playing with good leverage and pad level, he racked up 32 knockdown blocks last year.
Projected Top Reserves: The first tackle off the bench and a threat to Becton's spot atop the depth chart will be 6-5, 291-pound junior Andrew Lanier. Another converted tight end, he earned his first letter and his first start last season. While still raw and still learning, he's come a long way and has a chance to play a key role on the 2010 team.
When Warren injured his knee late last year, 6-7, 287-pound sophomore Michael Via moved into the lineup and played surprisingly well. Unfortunately, he's laid up with the knee injury now, which could keep him sidelined right up until August. He has a bright future, either at center or tackle, so a healthy return will hold a key to how the second unit shapes up this fall.
Watch Out For .... incoming freshman Laurence Gibson. He's taken part in his first spring, and few doubt he's the future at tackle in Blacksburg. In fact, he's already on the second team and sure to dodge a redshirt year. A product of Arizona, he has the good feet for a 6-4, 288-pounder needed to eventually excel in pass protection.
Strength: Run blocking. First-year running back Ryan Williams didn't get some All-America love on his own last season. He got a fair amount of help from the big guys up front, who paved the way for the nation's 14th-ranked running game. When blocking north-south, this is a physical unit capable of controlling the tempo of a game.
Weakness: Pass protection. Although the Hokies improved last season, this remains a perennial stumbling block each fall. Tech was 87th nationally in sacks allowed and just eighth in the ACC. Making matters more harrowing, the man protecting Tyrod Taylor's blind side will be a first-time starter.
Outlook: The Hokies will once again have a utilitarian offensive line that'll be breaking in two new starters on the left side. There are good players, such as DeChristopher, Warren, and Brooks, but no obvious next-level types or shutdown tackles. They'll continue to excel at opening holes, but better defenses will still give them fits on passing downs.
- 2010 Virginia Tech Preview |
Virginia Tech Offense
2010 Virginia Tech Defense |
Virginia Tech Depth Chart
- Virginia Tech Previews