The injury to Darren Evans will leave the Virginia Tech offense looking elsewhere for production in 2009. The Hokies had a reliable workhorse in Evans who they could use to wear out opposing defenses and put victories on ice late in the fourth quarter.
Without Evans, there are three others who I think need to improve their performance this season for the Hokies to contend for a third consecutive ACC Championship. And none of them are running backs.
1. Offensive Coordinator Bryan Stinespring
Someone on The Twitter suggested that Stinespring might "go vanilla" with the offense now that Evans is out. This is impossible because that's what the offense was WITH Darren Evans in the backfield. The Hokies did nothing but make barrels last year.
It's up to Stinespring to go Neapolitan with the offense this season. He has talented players at his disposal so dumbing down the offense can no longer be tolerated. Stinespring has to get creative with his playcalling. My big complaint with him is that I think he's a terrible play caller. I think he's a good coordinator of the offense, but can't call plays to save his family, especially in the red zone. We'll find out this season if he can get it done.
2. Quarterback Tyrod Taylor
A lot has been made about Taylor regression in 2008. But I think the jury is still out on him and we will find out whether or not he's a good quarterback this season. With the pressure on Taylor, it will be off the running backs who are responsible for replacing Evans. Since the Orange Bowl Taylor has corrected his delivery and has devoloped trust with his receiving corps. He had a decent season in 2007 with four capable wide receivers. With the same depth this season, he should be able to put up numbers that can help replace the production Evans gave the Hokies.
3. The Offensive Line
The pass blocking has to improve this season. The Hokies gave up 38 sacks last year and need to cut that number in half for them to be successful this season. Taylor's numbers will look like the ones from 2008 instead of 2007 if he doesn't have time in the pocket. The run blocking was solid late in 2008 and if it's the same this season and the holes are there for Oglesby, Williams and Wilson, the Hokies will get the same rushing output.
These are just the three I think need to step up in 2009. Who do you think needs to have a good season with Evans out for the year?