Virginia Tech's offensive line has received plenty of bad press lately. While the OL was, for the most part, very good from 1995 through 2005, since that time it seems to have dropped off a cliff. This change has been mostly a result of getting behind on recruiting, recruiting busts, and signed players that didn't fit the scheme.
When Coach Frank Beamer turned to Curt Newsome as the OL coach for the 2006 season, things didn't start very well. Newsome brought along a zone blocking scheme that was new for VT and took some getting used to. The line was flat out awful in 2006, but showed signs of improvement later into 2007. When the 2008 season began it looked to be another head scratcher, but after right tackle Blake DeChristopher recovered from his injury the Hokie line performed much better, particularly in the running game. 2009 continued as a better version of ‘08, with outstanding run blocking and adequate pass blocking. The improvements in the running game are quite obvious in the available running back highlight videos.
Advances in pass blocking may possibly be disputed by many because of Tech's high sack numbers. And yes, while they are perhaps too high, VT plays a strange brand of football that has produced some weird stats. For example, when the Hokies pass they more often than not tend to take shots downfield, which encourage more sack numbers than having a quarterback who releases the ball quickly. Also, using a mobile QB, who likes to run out of potential trouble rather than throw the ball away, will create some big plays, but also create more sacks.
Projected starters (from left to right):
LT Nick Becton 6-6 307 rSo. Becton is the least experienced lineman, with only a little over 50 snaps last year. He had a good spring, even though he went through a few growing pains. Offensive coordinator Bryan Stinespring described him as "the type of player we have been waiting for." Becton replaces Ed Wang, who although consistently grading out higher than any other offensive lineman, also seemed to be good for a holding call or two per game.
LG Greg Nosal 6-6 285 rJr. Nosal was essentially VT's sixth starter last year and spent time spelling both guards. Former starter Sergio Render has graduated, and while Nosal is not the mauler that Render was, he is far more athletic. Render would often be seen diving at air, especially at linebackers, because that was the only way he could block. Nosal will generate a good push, and although possibly not quite one equal to that of Render, he will do far better downfield.
C Beau Warren, 6-3, 292, rSr. Beau is the only senior on the line, and was a consistent starter last year, and also started several games while a freshman and sophomore. He is essentially an "invisible player," which isn't a bad thing when a center.
RG Jaymes Brooks 6-2, 304, rJr. Brooks had his first start as a freshman in the Orange Bowl against Cincinnati and their All-American defensive tackle Byrd. Brooks impressed and has been seen as a potential steady contributor ever since. Like Warren, he isn't a very visible player who gets a lot of pancakes or drives players 30 yards downfield, but he doesn't whiff on blocks very often either.
RT Blake DeChristopher 6-5, 300, rJr. DeChristopher might be the best returning mauler on the team. He is outstanding in the running game and consistently gets a great push, although his footwork does leave a little to be desired, and he has been burned in pass protection numerous times.
Andrew Lanier 6-5, 274, rSo. Lanier received quite a bit of playing time last year, mostly backing up DeChristopher at RT. He started one game against Duke, and recorded four pancakes in that game. He should get plenty of reps this season, but Nick Becton getting the LT starting spot over him seems to speak clearly about how the coaches view him.
Michael Via 6-7,
287, rSo. Via backed up all five
positions last year, and also started a couple of games at center.
He is a very good athlete, but because of a partially torn
Vinston Painter 6-6, 317, rSo. Painter is a high-caliber recruit who has slowly moved up the OG depth chart. He is probably the most physically imposing player on the team, although some reports indicate that he isn't yet "mean enough" in the trenches.
Andre Miller 6-4, 282, rFr. Miller doesn't have any game experience yet, but the coaches are high on him, and he should see meaningful playing time this year as a backup at center… and most probably will be the starting center in 2011.
David Wang 6-1, 295, rFr. David is the brother of former LT Ed Wang, who is now playing in the NFL. There are plenty of positive reviews about this guy, possibly more than any of the other freshmen. Look for him to get playing time at both OG positions this season.