BLACKSBURG — Virginia Tech is facing significant uncertainty at right tackle going into this weekend’s game against Richmond.
Starting right tackle Silas Dzansi suffered a right ankle injury in the loss to West Virginia on Saturday and his backup Parker Clements didn’t make the trip after suffering an undisclosed injury at practice in the days leading up the game.
Tech’s depth at tackle was one of the coaching staff’s biggest concerts throughout the offseason.
“I don't know who is going to play right tackle,” Fuente said, on Monday. “Both those guys, Parker and Silas were out there yesterday (at practice). I hope they continue to get healthy. We had a staff meeting tonight where I will get an update on their status and try to develop a plan. But I don't have an answer for you. That's the way it is, we have got to find a way to go."
Dzansi was still wearing a walking boot on his right foot when he was spotted at the team’s athletic facility. He suffered the injury in the first quarter of Tech’s loss to West Virginia and didn’t return to the game.
Fuente said Clements would have played (or at least rotated in) had he been available. Clements made his collegiate debut at tackle in Week 2 late in the game against Middle Tennessee.
Veteran Tyrell Smith replaced Dzansi initially, but was replaced by center Brock Hoffman late in the game. Smith committed a pair of costly false start penalties in the red zone and allowed a defender to blow up on a fourth and one that got stopped at West Virginia’s 29-yard line in the second quarter.
According to Pro Football Focus, Smith played 32 snaps at right tackle and played 24 snaps.
"It was very difficult,” Fuente said. “It was a tough situation to put Brock in.”
Tech would prefer a simple solution — if Dzansi or Clements is healthy, one of them gets the start — but Fuente said they might have to consider more drastic solutions with multiple players shifting spots.
“I don’t have a clue if either one of them will be healthy,” Fuente said. “So we may not have the choice of, in the game it was the easiest, because you’ve got a guy that can go play and you’ve got somebody who can play center without a huge dropoff. So that was easy.”
Fuente didn’t discuss specific alternatives, but Hoffman could be an option again since the staff is confident in Maryland transfer Johnny Jordan’s ability to step in at center like he did on Saturday.
Starting left guard Lecitus Smith took reps in fall camp at left tackle, and said before the season he would love an opportunity to play the position in a game. The Hokies could try that out with Luke Tenuta moving back to right tackle (where he played last season), keep Hoffman at center and have Johnny Jordan play left guard.
Richmond likely won’t know what Tech’s line will look like until Saturday’s pregame.