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The offense is still a mystery as the season looms.
Daniel Lin | The Roanoke Times
Linebacker Ronny Vandyke will miss the season with a shoulder injury.
Sunday, August 25, 2013
BLACKSBURG — How bad was last season for Virginia Tech? Players talk about it like it was the depths of college football.
“We know what the bottom is like,” linebacker Jack Tyler said. “If you know what that’s like, you never want to be there again. You’ll fight and you’ll do whatever it takes to not get back there.”
A good number of programs across the country would love to consider a 7-6 record and bowl victory “bottoming out,” but in Blacksburg, where the Hokies had their streak of eight straight 10-win seasons snapped, it didn’t meet anyone’s standards.
It might not be a quick fix, however. The Hokies have quarterback Logan Thomas back for his senior year and a defense that, despite injuries to cornerback Antone Exum and linebacker Ronny Vandyke , hopes to build off a strong conclusion to last year, when they looked more like vintage Bud Foster crews.
But the offense faces numerous question marks. Namely, can any running back be a workhorse the Hokies so desperately need, who is going to catch the ball and how will the offensive line shake out?
The offensive coaches brought in last January are tasked with finding answers. New offensive coordinator Scot Loeffler has vowed to get back to a power running game the Hokies lacked last year. Trey Edmunds , a 6-foot-1, 216-pound redshirt freshman, could be his workhorse.
Receivers coach Aaron Moorehead has to sort out an inexperienced receiving crew whose top two options are senior D.J. Coles, who missed last year with a knee injury, and Demitri Knowles , a speedster whose route-running and hands are a work in progress.
“Looking for playmakers, that’s for sure,” Beamer said as a closing remark after a recent scrimmage.
The offensive line, an issue for years, might be the biggest question mark. New line coach Jeff Grimes has mixed and matched since the spring, trying to find the right lineup. Injuries haven’t helped, and one of his tackle positions is poised to be manned by true freshman Jonathan McLaughlin .
Recruiting should replenish the ranks down the line, but for this year, Tech needs its veterans to lead and its youngsters to grow up fast.
“Is it going to happen overnight? No. Do we want it to happen overnight? Yes,” Loeffler said. “It’s going to be a process for some guys, and that’s why it’s really really important for our older guys who have been in the fray, who have kind of done it, to play well.”
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