FanPost

Running Game Woes Coincide with Changes.

The running back position at Virginia Tech is probably one of the most important and valuable positions for the program, especially over the past decade. The running backs of recent years have helped propel the football program to the forefront of college football. Just take a look at all the names:

Years

Player

Games

Attempts

Yards

Average

Touchdowns

1999-2002

Lee Suggs

38

535

2767

5.2

53

2001-2003

Kevin Jones

37

616

3475

5.6

35

2002-2005

Mike Imoh

36

296

1263

4.3

10

2002-2005

Cedric Humes

50

373

1805

4.8

21

2005-2007

Branden Ore

38

617

2776

4.5

31

2008,2010

*Darren Evans

28

438

2119

4.8

22

2009-2010

Ryan Williams

23

403

2132

5.3

30

2009-2011

David Wilson

40

462

2662

5.8

18

*Missed the 2009 season with a torn ACL.

You look at the names in the table above and your immediate response is, "Wow!" They spark so many memories in the minds of Hokie faithful. Needless to say, this was the heyday for running backs in Blacksburg.

Vt-ncst_medium

The success that the Hokies had during this time was remarkable. A time full of ten win seasons, conference championships, and great draft classes was the norm. Tech always had a stable of running backs they could turn to. The game plan was to run the ball, control the clock, and play great defense. But what has changed since then? What is the cause of this sudden drop off in running game production?

I don’t think you can point the finger at just one person. The program has focused on stability and tradition for over 20 years. But now things are changing. In 2011, Shane Beamer came back to Blacksburg as an associate head coach and running backs coach. After being running backs coach and producing many great backfields since 1978, Billy Hite was replaced by the young Beamer. After the 2012 season, fans finally saw the answer to their prayers with Bryan Stinespring being relieved of his duties as offensive coordinator. With this, Scot Loeffler was brought to the helm of the offensive along with Jeff Grimes being appointed to offensive line coach and running game coordinator.

For a football program to go 20 plus years without any coaching carousels is a major achievement. The Hokies haven’t faced any real adversity until now amidst new coaches and a new offense.

Let’s even take a look at the offensive line position. They've been through a lot also. Having a plethora of coaches with Stinespring coaching the tackles from 2011-2012, Billy Hite with just the guards and centers now, Jeff Grimes taking over for just one year, and now the introduction of Stacey Searles as the new offensive line coach, how can the running game establish any consistency?

With the running game being so lackluster the past two seasons, Logan Thomas did all the heavy lifting for the offense. He was relied on to pass the ball down the field and produce some kind of rushing attack. None of this fared well for Thomas because he had no one else to establish the running game and had no one who was consistently reliable to pass to. One thing that is common among the successful quarterbacks at Tech is that the running game could be relied on to win games and the skill position players could be counted on day in and day out.

The recruiting hasn't taken a step back. Stinespring still continues his success as recruiting coordinator and the introduction of Shane Beamer has helped recruiting overall.

The Virginia Tech program is going through hard times. The new offense doesn't focus on the ground and pound from years past and feature that every down back we are all used to seeing. Tech fans must face the fact that the team will not just be able to reload with new talented recruits like they once did. The program isn't as stable as it once was, and it’s going to take a few years before we see that kind of stability again.

But things are looking up with new talent in the running back recruits and hopefully coaches that will stick around for years to come. Last year was one of the most painful years in recent history for the running attack. But with Leoffler’s offense around for a second year and incoming freshman running backs Marshawn Williams and Shai McKenzie possessing potentially very bright futures in the Tech offense, look for major improvements.

My final words: Do not fear just yet, Hokies. This is just a speed bump and not a road block. The coaches are getting the players they need for the new offense, and all it takes is a little patience. Before you know it, Virginia Tech will be back at it like they once were.

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