From the limited amount of media engagements Justin Fuente has participated in, I get the sense he feels good about the 2020 version of the Hokies. The last couple of seasons he took every opportunity to point out how young the roster was. And rightfully so, the turnover was stark. (Whether or not that justifies the results is a discussion for another day.)
In the weeks leading up to the 2020 season however, he gushed about his offensive line, confidently remarked that he could craft an offense around any one of his three quarterbacks, and said flat out he expects Tech to run the ball.
This was Fuente's response on TTL when Jon Laaser asked him, "How much comfort does it give you that this is a line that should allow you to do that (run the football)?"
"I feel good about that. 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."
Fire the pun cannons because Fuente took the ball and ran with it.
I'm a believer in measuring things in order to obtain context of the result. In this case it's expectations, and the fanbase and Fuente are aligned that there's really no excuse for Tech to stumble on the ground as it has done throughout most of his tenure.
|Year||YPC (Rank)||Rushing SP+ Rank|
|2019||4.05 (86)||Not Published|
(I long for non-sack rush yards and the 2019 SP+ rank, but what's available paints a clear enough picture.)
Fuente summed it up nicely, but to reiterate:
- The Hokies have t-e-n, 10 offensive linemen (including Brock Hoffman) that have started FBS football games.
- Tech leveraged the transfer portal like free agency this offseason and added veteran options to its running back room. Khalil Herbert has the skills to bang it between the tackles. Macro Lee is a powerful and decisive runner. Raheem Blackshear has earned unofficial August MVP honors; he's garnered the most buzz from Tech's camp. Fuente recently said he's, "talented, highly intelligent and rarely skilled" (that last compliment should be the tagline on top-shelf bourbon). He could play both tailback and in the slot (next-level jet sweep mode, engage).
- Any of Hendon Hooker, Braxton Burmeister, or Quincy Patterson bring a formidable run-threat behind center. Tech has all the pieces to stress all the pain points of a defense on the ground via its various quarterback run series.
So yes, we're all in agreement. Virginia Tech should excel at running the football this season and frankly any other outcome would be a failure.