Ok, so at the risk of getting ridiculed right off the bat by starting with an extremely obvious statement, I’m just going to go ahead and say it: at this point in time, the defensive line is significantly deeper, more talented and more experienced than the Hokie offensive line. As usual for a Spring practice, the big guys on the defensive line made a number of great plays and really made things difficult for the 2nd team and 3rd team offensive lines. The 1st team offensive line was really good, in my opinion and I was pleased with where they are at this point.
The 2nd team and 3rd team offensive lines did not play as poorly as some in the media have reported. For the most part, I thought they got dominated by some terrific individual defensive players who were superior in strength, experience or physical talent for the guys trying to block them. For example, the third team offensive linemen may have been able to hold their own as a unit if not for Dadi Nicolas completely dominating Marcus Mapp and Darian Fisher. That’s not a knock on those guys, though. Dadi Nicolas is going to dominate a lot of guys before his career is over, I promise. His speed and balance off the edge are special and even though it seems like he really only has one pass rushing move right now (an outside-in “rip” move that he executes with blinding speed and superb balance) – it’s a good one.
Overall, I agree with something Chris Coleman said in his original scrimmage write-up, which is that there is a pretty substantial drop off in cohesiveness and production between the 1st team linemen and the 2nd team linemen. That second unit has quite a bit of raw talent (Shuman and Gibson are both 4-star recruits and I loved the high school film for both Arkema & Farris) but those guys’ lack of experience and cohesiveness playing together really showed up in the scrimmage.
For the most part, the 2nd team Offensive line was matched up against the 1st team Hokie defense, and it got pretty ugly out there from time to time. In the second 2 vs. 1 series, I made a note that the only person who stopped James Gayle was Gayle himself as he recorded a QB hurry, followed by consecutive pass rushes where he beat his man on a speed rush to the outside only to slip and fall as he turned the corner, and then a bull rush where he tripped over Jake Goins while running right through him.
It wasn’t just Goins though. Shuman struggled all morning with J.R. Collins and nobody picked up a blitzing Alonzo Tweedy...
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