Trouble in the Trenches Down the Road?

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In a little over two years from now, on September 8th, 2007, Virginia Tech
will travel to LSU to face the Tigers in what will likely be a nationally
televised game on ESPN or CBS. College football fans, bored by the offseason,
will have been pointing to this game all summer as the top early
out-of-conference matchup of the season. The Hokies will have a chance to make a
statement on the road on national television.

Virginia Tech will travel to Baton Rouge with a team loaded with talent. The
young freshmen that we saw on the field in 2004 will be seniors. The defense
will be headlined by senior starters Xavier Adibi, Vince Hall, Carlton Powell,
Chris Ellis and Roland Minor. Brandon Flowers will be on the team, as will D.J.
Parker, Kent Hicks and the highly touted Victor “Macho” Harris.

The offense will be stacked with playmakers. The starting quarterback will be
a tall gunslinger with a strong arm, whether it’s Sean Glennon, Cory Holt,
Greg Boone, or Ike Whitaker. Tech will have juniors George Bell and Branden Ore
in the backfield, along with sophomore Elan Lewis. Duane Brown will be a senior
tight end. And did I mention the best wide receiver corps in America, with
seniors Eddie Royal, Josh Hyman, Josh Morgan and Justin Harper?

What in the world can hold a team like this back? Poor offensive line play,
that’s what. And it’s very possible that it will, unless some young players
start developing quickly.

The Offensive Line in 2005

The starting offensive line in 2005 will feature four seniors and one junior.
The starting group in 2006, assuming the backups in 2005 move into the starting
lineup, will feature three seniors. That’s seven senior starters in two years
from a group that currently isn’t very deep. Only six linemen played with any
regularity in 2004 for the Hokies, and the only reason that a sixth played was
because Reggie Butler didn’t perform very well, and Bryan Stinespring was
forced to plug Jason Murphy, a converted defensive tackle, into the starting
lineup. To Murphy’s credit, he did a nice job and line play improved.

But the point still stands. The