Offense has plenty of work to do

All eyes were on the offense this spring.  They certainly didn’t put up eye-popping numbers, but I don’t think anyone could have realistically expected them to.

After viewing the scrimmages and the Spring Game, I think the Hokies are better offensively right now than they were a year ago.  Of course, that’s not saying much.  There is still a lack of proven playmakers at the skill positions, and the offensive line is in rebuild mode.  Mix those issues in with questions at tight end and tailback, along with an inconsistent quarterback, and you’ve got an offense that just isn’t that good.

OL shaking out

Jeff Grimes

Jeff Grimes spent the first half of the spring trying a lot of different players in a lot of different positions.  He still hasn’t settled in on his starting five, but he’s getting very close.  At the end of the spring, the starting five looked like this…

LT: Jonathan McLaughlin (#71, 6-4, 306, Fr.).  Along with Mark Shuman , McLaughlin was Virginia Tech’s best lineman in the Spring Game.  He began the spring at #3 on the depth chart, and gradually worked his way up.  I don’t see anyone unseating him at the point.  It’s very impressive for a true freshman to earn a starting spot in his first semester.

LG: Mark Shuman (#69, 6-7, 314, r-Jr.).  Shuman was passed by McLaughlin at left tackle, and he was moved inside to left guard.  I didn’t think that move would work out for him, but he looked much better at guard during the Spring Game than he ever has at tackle.  I think we’ll see him working at guard when practice opens in August.

C: Caleb Farris (#79, 6-3, 303, Jr.).  I’m not sure how I feel about Farris at center, after 15 practices.  He doesn’t have the best lateral quickness in the world, and that’s important to this blocking scheme.  Having to snap the ball every play will naturally slow him down a split second more.  That said, he’s one of Tech’s best linemen.  He’ll be on the field in some way, shape or form this year.

RG: Andrew Miller (#74, 6-4, 293, r-Sr.).  Surprisingly, Miller was Tech’s worst lineman in the Spring Game.  He also spent much of the spring at center, and at this stage I think I would prefer him there over Caleb Farris .  Whatever position he plays, Tech is relying on Miller to get his ankle back to 100% and to have a good season.

RT: Laurence Gibson (#63, 6-6, 303, r-Jr.).  Gibson was tried briefly at left tackle, but he feels more comfortable on the right side.  Barring injury, you can ink him into the starting lineup for the 2013 season.

Brent Benedict (#55, 6-5, 301, r-Jr.) was briefly starting at left guard, but he was at right guard during the spring game running with the #2 offense.  He outperformed Miller during that game, and had he been working with the #1 offensive line, that unit likely would have played much better.  He will be right in the mix for a starting spot.  David Wang (#76, 6-2, 291, r-Sr.) was hurt early in the spring.  He will play a role as well.  I’d like to see him get some more work at center.

Augie Conte

Even though Mark Shuman doesn’t seem like an ideal run blocker at guard, I think it addresses some of the pass rushing issues that we could potentially see on that side of the field.