Virginia Tech Has Found Its Strength

For the first time in almost a decade, the Hokies can dominate in the trenches.

[Virginia Tech Athletics \ Dave Knachel]

The greatest trick the devil ever pulled was convincing the people of West Virginia that John Denver's song "Take Me Home, Country Roads" was based on scenery in their state.

Sure, as Denver crows "West Virginia, mountain mama, take me home" the evidence may be damning. But the Blue Ridge Mountains are found in Tennessee, Georgia, North Carolina, Virginia and a few miles of Maryland and Pennsylvania. And while the Shenandoah River does cross into their godforsaken state for about 20 miles, the majesty of the waterway can be found in the Commonwealth.

But unfortunately "western Virginia" (or...gulp...western Maryland?) doesn't have four syllables. So instead of a nice tune about the beauty of the region, Denver gave Mountaineer fans something they'll run into the ground until the end of time.

And while regional pettiness may ooze out of the last three paragraphs, it's just jealousy. To me, western Virginia is one of the most beautiful places on earth and deserves the song. Between the mountains, the food and the people, it has a personality. And no matter if you go to Abingdon or Front Royal you know what to expect.

That of course goes for both Blacksburg and its college football team. For decades opponents walked into Lane Stadium and knew what they'd get — loud crowds, hard hits and an unrelenting ground game. At times it was explosive:

At times it was breathtaking:

And for a few years it was damn near untouchable:

(Hold on just a second, can we talk about that pregame segment? We have a cheesy fan-inspired nickname. We have a classic Frank Beamer "both guys'll get after ya" interview. We have Kevin Jones — wearing what I can only describe as the most 2002 shirt of all time — saying "sometimes they call me the holiday, because every time I touch the ball it's like Christmas." Whoever started the trend of limiting media access to college players should be prosecuted.)

But even when it wasn't flashy, the ground game still presented itself in a workmanlike fashion. Darren Evans trucked his way to 1200 yards at 4 yards per carry. Cedric Humes and Mike Imoh, Shyrone Stith and Lamont Peagues, Ken Oxendine and Marcus Parker — all pairs who lumbered towards the thousand-yard mark. And though it may not have been efficient, it was productive and, more importantly, inevitable.

But as the years passed, things started to change. After powering a top-20 rushing attack in 2009, '10 and '11, Tech plummeted to 73rd in 2012, 105th in 2013, 81st in 2014 and 75th in 2015. In the blink of an eye the Hokies' former strength collapsed as the program transformed into another similar site throughout the Appalachians.

Have you ever been to an industry town after it went bust? A coal mining town without the coal mine, for instance. You can pass through a place like this and see its bones. A downtown that used to be lively, full of once-popular restaurants and quaint neighborhoods, now left with only memories.

For years now, the Virginia Tech football program has been a place void of what made it successful. It's not dynamic running backs, nor a head coach with a philosophy of force feeding the ground game. No, the Hokies have lacked an offensive line with the ability to punch people in the mouth.

Tech had 19 All-ACC offensive linemen between 2004 (the first year they joined the conference) and 2011. Some had NFL talent (Will Montgommery and Duane Brown, for instance) and others just had the nastiness to succeed (think Sergio Render, Jaymes Brooks and Greg "pull my finger" Nosal.) It's not a coincidence some of Tech's best single-season rushing performances came behind those o-lines. Nor is it surprising that the running game fell apart as those numbers dwindled–between 2012 and 2019 the Hokies had just 10 All-ACC selections, only three of which were better than Honorable Mention.

Justin Fuente took over in 2016 with a simple offensive philosophy — throw to score, run to win. And though it would look a little different from Beamer's "idk just throw a fullback out there" ground game, Fuente's attack could modernize the Hokies without getting away from a traditional strength.

But there was one massive hurdle in bringing that vision to life — he and Vance Vice had to completely rebuild the offensive line. Between Curt Newsome, Jeff Grimes and Stacy Searles, the end of the Beamer era was filled with poor evaluating, bad injury luck, and substandard recruiting. Just look at every lineman signed in the six years before Fuente took the job:

2010: Laurence Gibson, Mark Shuman, Matt Arkema, Caleb Farris, Nick Acree

2011: Jake Goins

2012: Augie Conte, Jack Willenbrock, Adam Taraschke

2013: Wyatt Teller, Braxton Pfaff, Kyle Chung, Parker Osterloh, Jonathan McLaughlin, Andrew Williams

2014: Colt Pettit, Billy Ray Mitchell, Eric Gallo, Tyrell Smith

2015: Austin Clark, Yosh Nijman, D'Andre Plantin, Zach Hoyt

2016: Demetri Moore*, Thomas Jarrett Hopple, Patrick Kearns, TJ Jackson*

(*committed after Fuente took over)

We're looking at one legitimate star (Teller), six consistent starters (Gibson, Pfaff, Chung, McLaughlin, Gallo, Nijman) and three rotational guys (Farris, Osterloh, Hoyt) IN SEVEN YEARS OF RECRUITING CLASSES. If you want to talk about how a team can fall apart in the trenches, do things like sign one lineman in a class (2011) or use a spot on a 250-lb guard because he's teammates with a four-star running back (cue Drew Harris jokes).

And believe it or not, it could have been worse. Teller was initially recruited as a defensive tackle, Chung as a tight end and McLaughlin flipped from East Carolina and ended up starting at left tackle as a true freshman. There wasn't just a lineman shortage when Fuente took over, there was a full on deficit. He and Vice must have known they had seasons worth of depletion ahead of them.

Though recruiting in the offensive trenches is more art than science, and evaluations often come down to potential and conditioning, a 26 percent hit rate on starters is, well, it's a tough look for the Newsome/Grimes/Searles trifecta. And while Vice doesn't have a 100% hit rate by any means, he has done significantly better in a shorter amount of time:

2017: Silas Dzansi, Lecitus Smith, Aiden Brown

2018: Walker Culver, Luke Tenuta, Christian Darrisaw, John Harris,

2019: Doug Nester, Bryan Hudson, Jesse Hanson, Will Pritchard, Brock Hoffman

2020: Parker Clements, Kaden Moore

Not including the 2020 true freshmen, Vice signed seven starting-caliber linemen in three years. Seven! Brown and Pritchard retired due to injuries, Harris transferred to Mercer, but everyone else can either start or provide depth. And after years of cobbling together a front, Vice finally put five experienced, ACC-caliber players on the field together. And Tech reaped the benefits.

It would be foolish to overreact to one game — if the 2018 Hokies were as good as their performance against Florida State suggested, we'd have all experienced much less angst. NC State was not good on either side of the ball in 2019, and Tech simply capitalized on their deficiencies:

But punishing an opponent's weakness is what good teams do. Bending their best player to your will, as the Hokies did with State's Alim McNeill, is what very good teams do. And Tech did both on Saturday night, to the tune of 314 yards rushing.

Sure, it wasn't just the line. Adam Lechtenburg's stable of running backs ran through, around or past Wolfpack linebackers all night. Both Braxton Burmeister and Quincy Patterson posed a strong enough threat with their legs to widen out the defense on every snap. Tre Turner broke another massive jet sweep out of nowhere. But the foundation of all Tech's success still starts at the same place it has for the last 25 years — an ass-kicking mentality.

A month ago, Fuente gushed about the potential of his offensive line:

We better be able to run it. We've invested a tremendous amount of time, played through some really young players playing on the offensive line. I think it took a dramatic step forward during the season last year, our running attack, and with the addition of new backs, I feel like we ought to be able to run the football."

Looking back, the head coach seems prescient. He and his staff endured a mammoth rebuilding process (pun intended), and can finally take advantage of all their hard work. But it's not just about the time they put in recruiting and developing their players.

Look at Doug Nester's block. It's effective, it's aggressive and it's most certainly picking on the little guy. Vance Vice hasn't just built a wall of size and experience to plow massive holes for Tech's backs. He's curated a unit that wants to beat you up for four quarters. He's resurrecting a reputation that has been dormant for nearly a decade.

Vice has brought the nastiness back to Blacksburg.

Comments

Awesome write up. And this was so wonderful to see. Have been so frustrated with the inability to run the ball for what seems like a decade. I mean have had 0 faith in our ability to pick up first downs on 3rd and 1 or 2 for years.

But as I mentioned in a prior thread, we have seen occasional bits before. I need to see it in several games against multiple P5 teams before I'll believe the Hokies can dominate in the trenches. Reason for cautious optimism, but I'm going to wait for more data before concluding anything. Similar results against Duke and UNC and then I'll be getting onboard.

Recovering scientist working in business consulting

Playing to the audience by dragging West Virginia in an article about the new line and rushing attack. I respect that.

The Orange and Maroon you see, that's fighting on to victory.

These pretzels are making me thirsty.

Is it smart to drag West Virginia when the lineman you feature is Doug Nester from West Virginia. How do you think that makes him feel?

Life is good.

How else could he possibly have gotten to the "you know what to expect" analogy?

Like he made the right choice, probably

Really--do you think he will be sending this story to his friends and family back home.

Life is good.

if Doug Nester loved WVU so much, he would have gone there?

The article drags the school, not the state.

"Why gobble gobble chumps asks such good questions, I will never know." - TheFifthFuller

So when he says the greatest trick the devil ever pulled was convincing "the people of West Virginia" he wasn't dragging the state?

Life is good.

No. If anything it's a shot at John Denver for choosing easy syllables over geographic accuracy. Casual listeners would think the song is about the state of West Virginia, but is in fact about west Virginia.

That being said, why the hell shouldn't we take shots at the state of West Virginia? We shit on Maryland, Florida, Texas, and California plenty. Why is a state that is objectively worse than all of them exempt?

Inspiration for the song had come while Nivert and Danoff, who were married, were driving along Clopper Road in nearby Montgomery County, Maryland to a Nivert family reunion in Gaithersburg.[5] According to a radio interview with Nivert, the road is close to Washington, D.C., where Denver often worked. To pass the time en route, Danoff had made up a ballad about the little winding roads they were taking. He had even briefly considered using "Massachusetts" rather than "West Virginia" as both four-syllable state names would have fit the song's meter. Today, the landscape around Clopper Road has changed drastically due to development and little resembles the countryside scenery that once surrounded it.[6]
To Danoff, the lyric "(t)he radio reminds me of my home far away" in the bridge is quintessentially West Virginian, an allusion to listening during his '50s childhood days to the program Saturday Night Jamboree, broadcast from Wheeling, West Virginia, on WWVA from his home far away, in Springfield, Massachusetts.[7]
Danoff had some other West Virginia associations to draw from as well. He became friends with actor Chris Sarandon, a Beckley native who was once married to actress Susan Sarandon, as well as a group of hippies from a West Virginia commune who used to sit in the front row of the little clubs in which his groups used to play:[7] "They brought their dogs and were a very colorful group of folks, but that is how West Virginia began creeping into the song," Danoff said. "I didn't want to write about Massachusetts because I didn't think the word was musical. And the Bee Gees, of course, had a hit record called Massachusetts, but what did I know?".[7]
...
Taffy got out an encyclopedia to learn a little more about West Virginia, and the first thing that came upon was the Rhododendron, the state flower, so she kept trying to work the word Rhododendron into the song. Rhododendron was actually the title that Taffy had written down on the lyric sheet, which they later sent to ASCAP.[7] The three stayed up until 6:00 a.m., changing words and moving lines around.[8]

The geographical features named in the first verse of the lyrics - Blue Ridge Mountains, Shenandoah River - which are more prominent in the state of Virginia than in West Virginia, can be found in Jefferson County, West Virginia.[9]

It's a song inspired by Maryland and Massachuttes, written about West Virginia that includes description of locales more famous in VA than WV.

Wikipedia

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So instead of a nice tune about the beauty of the region, Denver gave Mountaineer fans something they'll run into the ground until the end of time.

"Why gobble gobble chumps asks such good questions, I will never know." - TheFifthFuller

what does "godforsaken state" mean then?

🦃 🦃 🦃

Well taken, my friend!

Life is good.

i know you have a law degree and are way smarter than me, but it's bonkers to me that anyone would read this and use a single adjective to influence their takeaway of (a) the broader tone of the column and (b) the obvious intent of the "take me home country roads" illustration to dunk on WVU getting it wrong with the John Denver song.

Since Brian is drawing a pretty clear parallel between the imagery in the song and VT's OL/Run Game, he pretty much has to reclaim that song/imagery from WVU before making the analogy.

"Why gobble gobble chumps asks such good questions, I will never know." - TheFifthFuller

you don't think a person from West Virginia would take offense at their state being called godforsaken?

I get that it's in jest, but I'm not from WV, so i'll defer to West Virginians on the issue.

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missing the forest for one very specific tree if that's your takeaway from the article is all I'm sayin

"Why gobble gobble chumps asks such good questions, I will never know." - TheFifthFuller

I never did give you my takeaway. I personally don't have one. I was merely pointing out that the state of WV was referred to as godforsaken, not the university, in response to your direct statement of: "The article drags the school, not the state."

The author could have chosen any adjective or no adjective to describe WV. He chose godforsaken, which is usually used to imply a desolate or miserable location. That is negative statement about the state. That's all I was saying.

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Sorry, I used the general usage of "your" and not the grammatically correct "one's"

"Why gobble gobble chumps asks such good questions, I will never know." - TheFifthFuller

I would say that to my WVa native friends and not feel bad about it. Any offense taken would be tied to some other insecurity.

I also like to say right and left (wrong) Virginia in jest.

"If you don't have time to do it right, when will you have time to do it over?"

I'm originally from WV and have family there. Godforsaken is appropriate.

I am also from there and have been gone 35 years and still have family there. And, godforsaken is totally appropriate.

I'll third that, at least in several parts of which I am very familiar.

Wait, what?

My dad's side of the family is fifth generation West Virginians in and around Keyser. While they are mostly Eer fans, I think they would appreciate the tone and context in which this was said. My brother in law grew up in Beckley but his whole family is Hokies, and they say far worse things about the northern part of the state (and the cousins) than Brian mentioned here.

I think a good rule of thumb is read things in context and don't take offense on other's behalf when they are here to take offense themselves, if they so choose.

Ok, let's just get to the real response here. No one cares! WVU fans aren't reading this article lol.

Given this is a college football fansite and there is a historical adversarial relationship between not just VT and WVU, but also the States themselves, I don't think calling it godforsaken is out of turn.

Agreed. I was just responding that the state was in fact spoken upon with a negative term. Seemingly in jest.

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Geesh, your crowd has been rough lately. Great read though, keep up the good work.

"If you don't have time to do it right, when will you have time to do it over?"

What a subthread. I love TKP.

Another white bronco? The first one didn't go too far.

I have seen some strange ones but this one is gold.

I was impressed with our O-line Last year despite having 2 True Freshmen. Doug Nester is a legit Sunday Player. Hudson will get there too given more playing time. Hoffman is a beast. I really like Darrisaw and his movement especially against tall lengthy D-ends, he gets his body on them to prevent them from jumping.

I'm not even mentioning the entire line because there is so much shifting and subbing. I'm not entirely sure if Nester is the right guard or Right tackle. Seemed like Tenuta was Right tackle with Nester sliding inside at times. I saw Hudson at Right guard on a few plays.

Lets keep this going!!!

Hokies, Local Soccer, AFC Ajax, Ravens

I love this

great article. I'll go ahead and take this opportunity to thank ALL of TKP staff for everything they do and I strongly encourage anyone who hasn't already done it to go ahead and sign up for TKPC. It is very very well worth it!

It's always darkest before the dawn ~ Thomas Fuller

Great piece, as always. This paragraph in particular hit me:

Have you ever been to an industry town after it went bust? A coal mining town without the coal mine, for instance. You can pass through a place like this and see its bones. A downtown that used to be lively, full of once-popular restaurants and quaint neighborhoods, now left with only memories.

When I was in consulting, I was flying up to Martinsville VA almost every week for work for about 9 months. Walking downtown, I saw empty toy stores, empty furniture stores, etc, with things that looked 20 years old in the window. It was literally a ghost town; it was just eerie. No offense to anyone from Martinsville, but I've never been to a place like that in my life. Pretty buildings, nice brick roads, but just everything empty... Imagine downtown Blacksburg if VT just closed down one day.

Twitter me

Being from there, just imagine growing up and actively watching it happen. It's depressing. You just watch all of the massive furniture (Bassett, Stanley, etc.) and textile mills slowly close up shop, literal tens of thousands losing jobs over the years, and then there's nothing but the bones left...like the article states.

“Also, a microwave has never danced it's ass off to Jackie Wilson.” - AssPocketFullOWhiskey

We're diverging a bit, but meanwhile, towns are popping up in other countries.

I don't know how to take your point other than that isn't helpful for Americans

Recruit Prosim

Manufacturing didn't disappear. It moved somewhere else.

Lol you're stating a fact but I can't tell which side you're on

Recruit Prosim

Moved to China and other countries.

Life is good.

automation also nuked a ton of jobs

Sounds just like Martinsville and Danville VA.
Edit: Just realized he said Martinsville and not Martinsburg WV.

I believe Bassett is still in business, but otherwise I agree with you.

They are, but it's mainly just the administrative side that exists there in town now. The manufacturing has long since pulled up shop and left. It's basically 'Bassett' in name only, at this point.

“Also, a microwave has never danced it's ass off to Jackie Wilson.” - AssPocketFullOWhiskey

Their Benchmade line is made there but that's it. They call it "the craft beer of the furniture industry."

Woah Martinsville fam? I live in Martinsville, work in Danville, parents (one VTalum) from Bassett.

I definitely watched it happened as you describe. My entire family that's older than me was touched by the furniture/textile industry in one way or another. I remember some stoplights in town when I was very young where you'd get some serious traffic if it was a shift change. Now I can get anywhere in town without any issue.

We're coming back though. It won't be what it was but it's certainly better than the end of the 90s.

I graduated from Patrick County in 2000, and have recently moved back - What happened to that area is depressing - My wife isn't from the area and can't believe that Collinsville used to be busy in the 90's.

FC had the coolest home stands in the district back then

I am no longer active here, nor will suggest people visit here. The majority of my interaction with Joe on here has been negative, and I was impressively, unimpressed at the tailgate.

Time will tell. I still worry about the toughness of the team, especially when faced with tougher foes. We will see how the season goes. I am hoping I'm just cynical, but the last couple of years have been exactly like this. Play an amazing game this week where everything goes right, and then flub games and fall apart. I believe this will be further exasperated by covid issues and depth being taken out. One thing is for sure though...2020 season is going to be interesting.

God is a hokie during football season...that's why the leaves turn maroon and orange!!!

The best word in this entire writeup is "inevitable". I want our run game to be inevitable. You can know we are coming and there is nothing you can do to stop it. Juggernaught would also be acceptable.

THIS is who we are. Running all over people. Nasty OL, talented RB's, and a running QB (or 3!). Cautiously optimistic that we have the pieces to have a competent run attack all season, with flashes of the dominance like we saw last week. Love the history and context in the article, top-notch all the way.

thanks for the 2009 disappointment ptsd

Danny is always open

I truly regret not buying a Ryan Willians For Heisman shirt when I had the chance. What a time to be alive.

Did you at least get the Nike Pro-Combat replica jersey we came out with that year that used his number?

“Also, a microwave has never danced it's ass off to Jackie Wilson.” - AssPocketFullOWhiskey

I can only hope that this is the first step towards bringing back the TerrorDome. Dominating in the trenches is, quite simply, music to my ears.

HTHokie93

Great piece Brian! One of my favorite articles that you've written.

As a guy in my early 40s, it certainly takes me back to the good ole days of VT football when you knew what to expect from the good guys. I hope we're onto something here!

Is coronavirus over yet?

The greatest trick the devil ever pulled was convincing the people of West Virginia that John Denver's song "Take Me Home, Country Roads" was based on scenery in their state.

Sure, as Denver crows "West Virginia, mountain mama, take me home" the evidence may be damning. But the Blue Ridge Mountains are found in Tennessee, Georgia, North Carolina, Virginia and a few miles of Maryland and Pennsylvania. And while the Shenandoah River does cross into their godforsaken state for about 20 miles, the majesty of the waterway can be found in the Commonwealth.

But unfortunately "western Virginia" (or...gulp...western Maryland?) doesn't have four syllables. So instead of a nice tune about the beauty of the region, Denver gave Mountaineer fans something they'll run into the ground until the end of time.

Have you ever been to an industry town after it went bust? A coal mining town without the coal mine, for instance. You can pass through a place like this and see its bones. A downtown that used to be lively, full of once-popular restaurants and quaint neighborhoods, now left with only memories

You really took some shots at WV in this piece. Go easy, man /s

WVU has adopted Country Roads to be their identity of sorts. It's annoying but also hiliarious that they try to celebrate state allegiance by singing about things loosely associated or not even at all associated with the state.

Great write up. It's pretty easy to see why the 2012-2015 teams fell off for Frank so much. Even when the offensive line kind of sucked at pass blocking (2006-2008), they were pretty good at run blocking. There was none of that in Beamer's final years. At one point in 2014 or 2015, Wade Hansen got moved from the defensive line to the offensive line IN THE MIDDLE OF THE SEASON. Searels made a joke stating that when we need offensive linemen, we don't recruit them; we just walk over to the defensive linemen room. It was annoying because it was slightly true and explained a lot about how inept our line was.

I think the thing that excites me the most about this offensive line is that they are mean. My biggest beef with VT last year was that they weren't mean enough. When Duke faked that punt, the guy who cornered the punter on the sideline didn't try to hit him; he just gave him a shove out of bounds. When UVA was taking cheap shots, talking trash, and celebrating miniscule accomplishments as if they were touchdowns, our guys responded with nothing. When Lynn Bowden Jr. punched Dashawn Crawford before the Kentucky game, our guys looked around with their hands up in the air as if they were waiting for someone to stop him.

Against NC State, Brock Hoffman was apparently told multiple times to calm down a little bit (how you can tell an offensive lineman to calm down several times without throwing a flag is curious to me; seems like the official might have just been on a power trip). Doug Nester not only flattened that NC State defensive back but he also stood over him and let him know about it too. Hoffman has brought an element of nastiness to the offensive line that I feel like we haven't seen since the mid-2000s. If it can be infectious and the whole team starts to take on that attitude, we are going to be a tough out for anyone.

Marshall University graduate.
Virginia Tech fanatic.
Formerly known as JWillHokieAlum.

Do you know why they call West Virginia "Almost Heaven"?
Because it's right next to Virginia.

One of my all time favorites.

When the players had to hear Country Roads during practice leading up to the 2017 WVU game, all their fans were in the comments saying "they're just practicing for when they hear it after the game!" I went back and liked every single one of those tweets after the game.

Marshall University graduate.
Virginia Tech fanatic.
Formerly known as JWillHokieAlum.

Hoffman has brought an element of nastiness to the offensive line that I feel like we haven't seen since the mid-2000s.

Pent-up anger from the NCAA not clearing him last season.

No, I *don't* want to go to the SEC. Why do you ask?

We don't love dem Hoos.

Great piece Brian. I've grown less and less inclined to watch VT games. After the Duke game last year, I'd didn't watch a full game (either by choice or circumstance) until we went to the Pitt game. After Saturday, I find myself with a tremendous desire to watch this team because, for the first time in maybe 8-9 years, I have confidence that we can push a team around in the trenches.

I have no idea why my username is VT_Warthog.

Arkansas blew a 24-0 lead in the Belk Bowl.

can we talk about that pregame segment? We have a cheesy fan-inspired nickname.

That John Denver's full of shit!

Great article, it's very exciting to see a dominant run game again. Let's keep the momentum going against Duke!

"I'm too drunk to taste this chicken" - Colonel Sanders via Ricky Bobby

To fix "Country Roads", use SWEET VIRGINIA

Somewhere, I picked up using half-beats "South-west" Virginia. Always makes me feel better.

"The Big Ten is always using excuses to cancel games with us. First Wisconsin. Then Wisconsin. After that, Wisconsin. The subsequent cancellation with Wisconsin comes to mind too. Now Penn State. What's next? Wisconsin?" -HorseOnATreadmill

Step 1 was getting some legit numbers in here. Kudos to Vice. Step 2 was moving on from the theory that OL need 3 years development- how about recruiting and developing guys that can play sooner than that? Step 4 was making it a priority and not just using TE's and failed DT's on the line. Vice is a really good OL coach, he is the best Memphis guy in terms of translating to the P5 thus far. I don't count Shibest because he had coached in the P5 before. Future is bright there.

3yrs of development should not be expected, but hopefully moving forward we wont have to do on the job training with the youngest guys and they can have at least a year or two to mature into P5 starters. Future looks good at the moment for sure.

"If you don't have time to do it right, when will you have time to do it over?"

Agreed- that's why numbers are so important on the OL. Need at least 2 a cycle, IMO

It's so interesting, because it's not like he's just going out and signing 4-star, ready-to-play guys. Just look at what he's done, from left-to-right:

LT: Christian Darrisaw's best offer out of HS was...Central Connecticut State? He was the lowest-ranked player in his class. Prepped a year, started right away.

LG: Lecitus Smith was a 3* tight end in high school, a few solid offers (Arkansas, Louisville Okie St) but nothing that makes your eyes wide. This is a weight room win, imo.

C: Hoffman, transfer from Costal Carolina, 2* guy out of HS.

RG: Doug Nester/Bryan Hudson. Both 4* dudes, this was just good recruiting.

RT: Luke Tenuta, mid-tier 3* guy with a cluster of power 5 offers late in the cycle. Probably the best NFL prospect on the line right now.

Recruiting (both quality and quantity), developing (but not relying on) a handful of non-ol who have the ability, trusting them to play right away. Check, check, check. Rumor was that Ole Miss went after Vice this past offseason. Tech needs to pony up to keep him, because he's the best guy on the staff.

Darrisaw - Junior
Smith - Rs Junior
Hoffman - Rs Junior
Tenuta - Rs Soph

4 out of 5 starters with 3 or more years of college football experience. So yea preaching patience and understanding that it might take guys 3 years to realize their full potential is still a good idea. Will we find some guys that are able to make a big impact in year 2, like Hudson and Nester? Yes, but that doesn't mean that's where we should set the bar.

Gobble Till You Wobble

But what was step 3? /s

"That move was slicker than a peeled onion in a bowl of snot." -Mike Burnop

make her open the box

"Why gobble gobble chumps asks such good questions, I will never know." - TheFifthFuller

SHUT IT DOWN. WINNER WINNER, CHICKEN DINNER.

King Alum of the House Hokie, the First of His Name, Khal of the Turkey Legs, The rightful Heir to the Big Board, the Unbanned, Breaker of Trolls and Father of Gritty

Great write up.

But I loved even more the trip down memory lane watching Suggs and Jones. I had forgotten how good those dudes were and realized I definitely took them for granted when they were with us.

six consistent starters (Gibson, Pfaff, Chung, McLaughlin, Gallo, Nijman)

Conte was a consistent starter as well, but your point still stands.

"I'm too drunk to taste this chicken" - Colonel Sanders via Ricky Bobby

Dang it, Augie. Great call. Accidental omission.

Cool guy too. After either the 2015 or 2017 win over UVA in Lane North(can't remember which since there have been SO many lol), my friend and I celebrated in the lower corner stands with several players including Conte (and met his family too)- got to hold the Commonwealth Cup!

From the 2018 VT-uva game-"This is when LEGENDS are made!"

amazing read -- love how the run game we saw against NCSU is contextualized within the last few decades of hokie football history.

Vice Squad is doing WORK out there.

"Why gobble gobble chumps asks such good questions, I will never know." - TheFifthFuller

It was only one game. But for one game I felt like I was watching the Tech that I grew up with and had through college before my final football season as a student in 2011. It was like getting reunited with a long lost friend and the two of you pick up right where you left off like no time had passed at all

"The Big Ten is always using excuses to cancel games with us. First Wisconsin. Then Wisconsin. After that, Wisconsin. The subsequent cancellation with Wisconsin comes to mind too. Now Penn State. What's next? Wisconsin?" -HorseOnATreadmill

just to add to the WV flavor of this article...did you ever notice that the shape of WV state is exactly like a right hand giving the finger

HH4455

perspective, if you're looking at someone giving you the finger with their left hand, yes

if you're giving someone the finger with your right hand, and staring at your hand, yes

thumb must be sticking out

TKPhi Damn Proud
BSME 2009

State bird of WV. Seen plenty of shirts stating as such in my time in Morgantown (older sibling went there).

Hoffman reminds me of Jake Grove. I feel like he's brought that same kind of skill and leadership to the Center position...as well as the same kind of nastiness to this O-Line. Grove got those boys of his era to play mean.

“Also, a microwave has never danced it's ass off to Jackie Wilson.” - AssPocketFullOWhiskey

I love the write-up, and enjoyed the game, but I'm a little worried that it might be early to be declaring victory.

I'm looking foward to seeing this trend continue.

Great write-up, thank you! Welcome to Vice City!

First of all, Southwest Virginia works just fine when singing that song.

Secondly, I cannot really remember the last time our OL was a legitimate strength. Even when we had good players in the early days of the ACC, the coaching left a lot to be desired, and we missed blocks on the regular. The quality of play in the ACC nowadays is also a lot higher than it was back then, so the bar has to be raised even higher to be good.

And yet, man our line manhandled the Pack on Saturday. If that kind of play is what we can expect going forward, we're going to be a more attractive destination for high level RBs and QBs down the road. Winning begins in the trenches, and for the first time in a while it looks like we might be a player on the offensive side of that mantra.

King Alum of the House Hokie, the First of His Name, Khal of the Turkey Legs, The rightful Heir to the Big Board, the Unbanned, Breaker of Trolls and Father of Gritty

Yeah, I'm hoping we'll see the recruiting threads blow up if we have a couple more games that we manhandle people with our O-line. Also hope our D-line can hold their own/improve, would love to see TNT get the kind of recruits they really want.

Randomly watched segments of the Marshall video... at one point, Herbstreit asks "When do you go play action?" . Corso answers - "Next Week" . When you know we are going to run it, and still can't stop it. That's VT Football. Good to see Herbert and Blackshear make the 2nd level miss. That turned a 7 yd gain , which is still awesome , to 30 yd gains.

I think the turnaround can be attributed to one thing and one thing only. There were exactly zero airplanes thrown in Lane on Saturday.

And that concludes my TED talk.

Warning: this post occasionally contains strong language (which may be unsuitable for children), unusual humor (which may be unsuitable for adults), and advanced mathematics (which may be unsuitable for liberal-arts majors)..

Ah, that reminds me. Someone should sponsor a cut-out of a paper airplane.

You know, just to upset the other cut-outs.

How about bottoms of pizza boxes

Is there by chance a "Stick it In, Stick it in, Stick it in" cut out?

There really needs to be.

I wouldn't mind restarting the rivalry with the cousins, just need to beef up security. The FedEx game, at least from what I've heard, was somewhat well behaved.

TKPhi Damn Proud
BSME 2009

There was some hate and good trash talk but very tame compared to the old days. Frankly, it seemed like a whole generation of fans didn't understand the vitriol and passion that the rivalry was supposed to be.

Kid tried to kick my ass after the final whistle since I was a lone Hokie in a sea of Eers but I think he got embarrassed when I called him out for going to his boys for backup (he was already bigger than me to begin with).

Someone threw a bag of piss at my car :)

You put those words together, those are my favorite words, Popeyes and bahama
- Mike Burnup

I think the performance of the O-line also leads to more confidence into the RB room. Hopefully helps them be more decisive to hit the hole hard vs trying to dance around.

I think the dancing around was more of a personnel issue (specifically McClease). I get the feeling that Herbert is a confidence guy. He's going to find the hole and push through it. Or, if there's no hole, he's going to hit it like a battering ram and get as much distance as he can out of what little was there. Blackshear I think will find holes, but if nothing is there, is more likely to try to make the edge and go around. McClease would come up on a defender and do his little shoulder wobble thing which I guess was supposed to confuse them, but really was just their cue to tackle him.

Hopefully helps them be more decisive to hit the hole hard vs trying to dance around.

I've never been an RB, so I don't know for sure, but I think it'd be easier to hit the hole hard when a hole actually exists, as opposed to an "unblocked hat".

Definitely need a bigger sample size to crown this a dominant Oline, but it is exciting. I have been burned by single game domination in the past.

Somebody help me off this hype train, I'm too scared to jump off...

Tech will need to use its strength well. Apparently DBs are getting hit right now for Covid and we might lose some depth there this game.

Thank God we have plenty of experienced depth at CB. . . .

How are QP's DB skills?

"Take care of the little things and the big things will come."

Didn't Fuente say Blackshear can play multiple positions on both sides of the ball? He's DB sized..

I said this as a joke to a friend a few minutes ago, and then I thought, well maybe I wasn't joking. If the DB depth is dire, feel like we may get a true test of the VT OL / RB strength to eat the clock with a good Duke front.

@hokie_rd