Preseason Thoughts: Deshawn McClease Needs Double Digit Carries In Every Game

The numbers indicate that Deshawn McClease is Virginia Tech’s best running back. (Photo by Ivan Morozov)

Everyone knows that Virginia Tech needs better running back production to be successful on offense in 2018.  Many fans are cautiously optimistic because of the way the Hokies ended the season running the football.  We’ve run these numbers before, but we’ll run them again. 

Pitt: 40 carries, 157 yards, long of 14 (McClease and Holston)
UVA: 53 carries, 202 yards, long of 19 (Jackson)
OSU: 50 carries, 247 yards, long of 19 (McClease)

Virginia Tech was able to control the football in those three games, thanks in part to a running game that was able to grind out tough yardage.  However, (and this will tie in a bit with last week’s article), their yards per carry was hurt because the backs were unable to generate any big plays.  Their 5.8 ypc average against Oklahoma State was very impressive considering the longest run of the game was just 19 yards.  Against Virginia, a gimpy Josh Jackson actually generated the biggest gain in the running game.

Despite the running backs’ struggles to generate big plays, the performance of Deshawn McClease was encouraging down the stretch.  A redshirt sophomore at the time, McClease was Tech’s most consistent running back over those final three games.