From Florida State and Clemson to Miami and Boston College, offensive lines will be a big talking point for many ACC offenses this spring. But in Blacksburg, Virginia, Frank Beamer’s crew is actually feeling a bit optimistic.
As the Roanoke Times writes in its preview of the position, this marks the first time in the past four years that Virginia Tech has had the same O-line coach -- and recruiting, development and scheme philosophies -- which once again has the line firmly in the spotlight.
From the Times:
This group has been treading water for a few years, trying to dig out of a numbers deficiency and talent gap that's been been apparent whenever the Hokies played against even decent defensive lines.
It’s no secret that Virginia Tech hasn’t met expectations for the past three years, and while there have been plenty of areas that needed improvement, it’s hard to argue that the offensive line hasn’t been the most overwhelming problem.
For example, here are some crucial line-related numbers for Virginia Tech since 2012:
42nd among 65 Power 5 teams in sack rate (6.4 percent)
tied for 62nd in yards per carry (4.27, not counting sacks)
60th in touchdowns per rush (3.3 percent)
60th in percentage of rushes going for a loss or no gain (21.5 percent)
54th in yards per play on first down (5.32)
60th in third- and fourth-and-short conversions (54.5 percent)
Those are all pretty atrocious results, which might explain why a line that figures to look quite a bit different in 2015 is also one that has a lot more enthusiasm surrounding it.
Stacy Searels has a track record of success building lines. Wyatt Teller was a revelation in the second half of 2014. Depth, for the first time in years, is an asset. And, of course, this year might also represent the best cast of skill-position players surrounding the line in years.
In other words, while FSU is hoping Wilson Bell can emerge as a star and Miami is excited to have Kc McDermott back in the fold, there may not be any ACC team with more focus on the offensive line this spring. And if that unit really does take a big step forward, there’s reason to think that Virginia Tech can, at long last, return to that 10-win plateau that had once been the norm.
A few more links:
It’s going to be a fresh start at cornerback for Florida State, writes Tomahawk Nation.
The competition at quarterback is a boost for Wake Forest’s offense, writes the Winston-Salem Journal.
The Orange have parted ways with senior receiver Quinta Funderburk, writes Syracuse.com.
The first day of spring practice at Virginia was about getting back into the groove for the Hoos, writes the Richmond Times-Dispatch.
A former NC State receiver is under investigation by the federal government on fraud charges, writes the Raleigh News & Observer.