On typical teams, the offensive line doesn’t get a ton of attention and that’s the way they like it. Often, if an offensive line is getting noticed, it isn’t because they’re playing well. However, that hasn’t been the case for the Hokies this season outside of the Wake Forest game, as ‘The Vice Squad’ continues to garner attention for their mauling play through six games.
“I think we’ve been pretty consistent. I think we’re improving week-to-week on little details,” center Brock Hoffman said. “We’re trying to take it day-by-day, practice-by-practice and game-by-game and keep improving.”
The line led the way for over 300 rushing yards in three of the first four games this season. Tech currently leads the ACC and is fourth in the nation with over 290 yards per game on the ground.
“I think we definitely gelled during fall camp, and adding Brock Hoffman at center definitely brought a nastiness to the group,” tackle Luke Tenuta said. “We’re just finishing every play, and we just want to go out there every play and dominate and make holes for our guys.”
Throughout the fall, it’s been clear that the group has taken on the personality of its leader at center. Hoffman’s nastiness may have been what the group was missing in previous seasons.
Brock Hoffman Playing with a Chip on His Shoulder
Saturday’s game was personal for Brock Hoffman when the Hokies traveled to Louisville for a Halloween clash with the Cardinals. After the Hokies pulled out the 42-35 win, Hoffman went to Twitter to let everyone know that the Scott Satterfield’s coaching staff, which moved from Appalachian State to Louisville last season, told him that he wasn’t good enough to play for the Mountaineers.
Hoffman let his play do the talking on Saturday, as his performance earned him ACC Offensive Lineman of the Week honors.
“I felt like I got passed up a lot during high school. I didn’t have any Power Five offers or anything like that. I just used that and what they told me as motivation and everybody passing up on me as motivation,” Hoffman said. “I don’t sit here and think about it every day, but that game came up on the schedule and I knew who that staff was, it definitely stood out to me. I definitely used what was told to me back in high school as motivation throughout the week.”
When describing Hoffman, the word ‘nasty’ is always the first that comes to mind. This comes not only from his mauling presence in the center of the line, but also his ability to get into the opposing team’s head.
“I would definitely say I’m the best trash-talker on the offensive line,” Hoffman said. “[Christian Darrisaw] was telling me that he didn’t do that all that much, but everybody has started to do it since I came in. I’ve had a couple of good battles with guys trash talking.”
The personality and physicality that Hoffman brings has clearly been infused into the offensive line, and often times it feels like the entire team has started to rally around the way that Hoffman plays.
“Brock is always talking. He’s a good competitor. He brings the juice for the o-lineman,” defensive tackle Norell Pollard said. “He gets them boys going. It helps the d-line because it gets us going. It’s just good competition all around.”
The Vice Squad continues to roll through opposing defenses thanks to the flair that Hoffman has given them, along with the talent that the program has stacked up on the offensive front.
Luke Tenuta’s Football Family Continues to Motivate Him
Hoffman’s presence in the middle of the line has been crucial in the development of The Vice Squad, but the Hokies have also received huge contributions from redshirt sophomore Luke Tenuta at right tackle.
Tenuta stands at six feet, seven inches and has all of the physical tools that a bookend tackle needs. However, his development into the player he has become has a lot to do with who raised him.
Tenuta’s father, Jon, has been coaching college football for almost forty years and has spent time at premier programs like Notre Dame, Oklahoma and Ohio State. More recently, Jon was the defensive coordinator for Virginia until 2015. Now, Jon spends Saturdays as a defensive analyst for Cincinnati, but he also continues to coach up his son.
“I love it. He watches all of our games, and he’ll re-watch them if they’re playing at the same time. Usually, he’s able to watch at least some of it live if he can. He’ll definitely tell me what I can improve on and what I did good,” Tenuta said. “I love that relationship, and I’ve had that my whole life in every sport. He’s always been telling me what I need to do and don’t need to do. It’s pretty cool having that relationship.”
Tenuta has grown up with his world revolving around sports. His oldest brother Zach played college football at Marshall and Akron, while his middle brother Matt is pitcher in the Seattle Mariners organization. With a family full of athletes and coaches, sports are everything for the Tenuta family.
“With the way I was raised by my dad and my mom, and watching my two older brothers grow up as athletes, a lot of that rubbed off on me about the seriousness of the sport we’re doing,” Tenuta said. “I’m just glad I was able to be raised that way and learn from him.”
That competitive spirit has shown up on the field as Tenuta continues to develop in his first full season as the starter.
“If he gets beat, he gets mad. There’s a couple of times in one-on-ones, a few weeks ago I beat him a couple times, and that whole rest of the day he was mad and trying to come at me,” defensive end Justus Reed said. “That’s just because he’s a competitor and a really good player. He just wants to win all the time. He’s a really cool guy.”