Thursday, January 3, 2013
Where does VT offense go from here?
By Andrea Adelson
Five days have passed since the season ended for Virginia Tech, and no word just yet on if there will be a major offensive staff shake-up.
Most everybody expects something to happen. But what will happen, and to whom? Those are the major questions that remain now that the Hokies avoided disaster with a come-from-behind win over Rutgers in the Russell Athletic Bowl that featured just enough offense to win.
Not great offense. Just enough offense. A season-low 196 yards is not exactly enough to encourage anybody that the status quo should remain.
Virginia Tech coach Frank Beamer has some decisions to make regarding his offense.
As if Hokies fans needed any such reminder, Virginia Tech just completed its worst offensive season since 2008, ranking No. 82 in scoring offense (25.1 ppg) and No. 82 in total offense (376.6). The key difference between this year and 2008, though, was rushing offense. This year, the Hokies averaged 145.9 yards on the ground with a revolving door of backs -- 41 yards fewer than a year ago with David Wilson.
Virginia Tech was better in that category in 2008, averaging 174.3 yards per game to rank No. 35 in the nation, a big reason why it was able to get to the Orange Bowl. The last time the Hokies averaged fewer yards rushing was in 2007, with 133.64 ypg to rank No. 82. Yet even then, they were able to make the Orange Bowl. Both teams in 2007 and 2008 featured stout defenses (No. 4 in 2007; No. 7 in 2008), enough to bail out any offensive shortcomings.
The defense was too inconsistent to be the headliner this year, though it did bail out those shortcomings against Rutgers. Still, it has been apparent for weeks that coach Frank Beamer has some decisions to make. There already is one report that receivers coach Kevin Sherman is going to Purdue.
Less certain is the future of offensive coordinator Bryan Stinespring, who declined to address his future after the game.
Whatever staff changes are made, Virginia Tech has three major questions to answer:
1. If Logan Thomas does return, the Hokies need to find a way to take the load entirely off his shoulders, and to get him to work on his accuracy as a passer. This stat sums up just how badly he struggled this year: His completion percentage dropped from 59.8 percent in 2011 to 51.3 percent in 2012. While it is true he had less talent and consistency at receiver, it is also true he was not consistent enough in the delivery of his passes.
2. Who is the running back? The revolving door did not work this year. Does that mean Virginia Tech does not have a back capable of being a reliable workhorse, or the coaches had itchy fingers and just wanted to try out a whole bunch of players to see what worked? Three different backs started this year -- J.C. Coleman, Tony Gregory and Michael Holmes. None ran for more than 500 yards. That question must be resolved.
3. Consistency on the offensive line. The play up front was not as good as it has been in several years. You understand that early on, as the line had to break in four new starters. But they should have been better at the end of the year. If you want every part of your offense to work in concert, you need a competent offensive line.