An Impressive Offensive Line
As we always say, the running game is 85% offensive line, and the passing game is 65% blocking. Let’s look at names that you have seen possessing serious starting experience; Tyrell Smith, Austin Cannon, T.J. Jackson, Zachariah Hoyt, Lecitus Smith, Silas Dzansi, Brock Hoffman, Christian Darrisaw, Luke Tenuta, Bryan Hudson, and Doug Nester. Then realize that Hoffman had his experience at Coastal Carolina, but now will take that talent in the guise of a different bird. That is eleven experienced upperclassmen. Hudson, Nester, and Tenuta all have serious game time as true Sophomores. If you leave off the Tight End, that means that the Hokies will return two full starting quality offensive lines to the field with a spare starting quality lineman thrown into the mix. Tackle eligible formations anyone?
There are just not that many negatives to dwell on for this part of the analysis. Vance Vice can do all sorts of wild things inside the hash marks with this lineup. There won’t be any drop off in skill or capability if one or more players gets pulled during a game. Defensive lines and linebackers will have to be prepared for eleven starters, not five or six.
2020 Virginia Tech Offensive Line
|79||Tyrell Smith||OL||6-3||308||Gr.||North Brunswick, N.J.|
|52||Austin Cannon||OL||6-2||323||R-Sr.||Mechanicsville, Va.|
|71||T.J. Jackson||OL||6-6||359||R-Sr.||Cumberland, Va.|
|75||Zachariah Hoyt||OL||6-5||305||R-Sr.||Salem, Va.|
|54||Lecitus Smith||OL||6-3||316||R-Jr.||Fitzgerald, Ga.|
|60||Silas Dzansi||OL||6-5||325||R-Jr.||Woodbridge, Va.|
|76||Brock Hoffman||OL||6-3||316||R-Jr.||Statesville, N.C.|
|77||Christian Darrisaw||OL||6-5||311||Jr.||Upper Marlboro, Md.|
|58||Walker Culver||OL||6-6||300||R-So.||Soddy-Daisy, Tenn.|
|69||Luke Tenuta||OL||6-7||315||R-So.||Crozet, Va.|
|61||Bryan Hudson||OL||6-4||315||So.||Georgetown, Ky.|
|74||Doug Nester||OL||6-6||315||So.||Huntington, W.Va.|
|72||Jesse Hanson||OL||6-5||301||R-Fr.||Blue Ridge, Va.|
|70||Parker Clements||OL||6-7||270||Fr.||Lugoff, S.C.|
The only issue that might come up is the thin number of players at the true Freshman depth positions. That will need to be addressed in the 2021 and 2022 recruiting classes.
Meanwhile, we lost Hazelton to Mizzou, and we lost Rambo to the pros, but the receiver corps looks like it isn’t going to miss much. If we can run the ball effectively behind the best O-Line that we’ve had in years and Hendon Hooker continues building on his passing skills he’ll have lots of targets of opportunity to displace the suspects that the pundits have placed ahead of him in the preseason QB rankings.
The Receiver Corps
There are some new names on the Tight End roster, but the two that we expect to see the most field time are Mitchell and Gallo. The two #1 wide outs are anticipated to be Tre Turner and Tayvion Robinson. If Cornelsen will use his tight ends, more, and spend time developing his intermediate routes this offense might just be the most potent unit that the Hokies have fielded since the 2009-2011 seasons.
Hokie Tight Ends
We fully expect to see 2019 regular starter James Mitchell operate as the extra lineman. He blocks well, and can really assist in creating an outside ally for jets and sweeps. Nick Gallo showed some blocking chops, but he’s more apt to be used in the roving H-Back position. In both cases, for this offense to take off, Fuente and Cornelsen need to actually use their Tight Ends for more than the occasional underneath or outlet pass. If they had used Dalton Keene to his fullest capabilities we might have had him for an additional season.
Big Play Tre Turner and Tayvion Robinson are expected to be the X and Y receivers to start the season. Jaden Payoute might be the interesting promotion for the season, but the remainder of the Wide Receiver roster is flat out newbie. Look for Kansas transfer Evan Fairs (who is still awaiting a number assignment) to get a serious look.
2020 Virginia Tech Hokies Receivers (Tight Ends and Wide Outs)
|41||Ty Eller||TE||6-2||223||R-Jr.||Newton, N.C.|
|42||Cole Blaker||TE||6-3||250||R-Jr.||Narrows, Va.|
|89||Drake DeIuliis||TE||6-5||250||R-Jr.||Charlotte, N.C.|
|82||James Mitchell||TE||6-3||252||Jr.||Big Stone Gap, Va.|
|86||Nick Gallo||TE||6-4||242||So.||Richboro, Pa.|
|90||Sam Brooks||TE||6-2||210||R-Fr.||Rockville, Va.|
|Evan Fairs||WR||6-3||205||Gr.||Fulshear, Texas|
|97||Keondre Banks||WR||6-11||185||R-Sr.||Raleigh, N.C.|
|11||Tre Turner||WR||6-2||190||Jr.||Greensboro, N.C.|
|16||Darryle Simmons||WR||6-2||212||R-So.||Philadelphia, Pa.|
|34||Tink Boyd||WR||6-10||180||R-So.||Chesterfield, Va.|
|40||Travis Williams||WR||6-3||212||R-So.||Lorton, Va.|
|45||Jacob Van Landingham||WR||6-11||203||R-So.||Franklin, Tenn.|
|80||Kaleb Smith||WR||6-2||207||R-So.||Bumpass, Va.|
|83||Tayvion Robinson||WR||6-10||186||So.||Virginia Beach, Va.|
|9||Luke Bussel||WR||6-10||210||R-Fr.||Chesapeake, Va.|
|48||Nikia Peerman||WR||6-3||176||R-Fr.||Gladys, Va.|
|49||William Kakavitsas||WR||6-1||175||R-Fr.||Charlotte, N.C.|
|85||Jaden Payoute||WR||6-1||206||R-Fr.||Chesterfield, Va.|
|88||Elijah Bowick||WR||6-1||216||R-Fr.||Charlotte, N.C.|
|94||Conner Dusenbury||WR||6-6||175||R-Fr.||Richmond, Va.|
Though the roster for Wide Receivers is one of the longest, it’s also one of the most unknown and least experienced. Look for the game experienced players to spend the most time on the field. That running game is going to be critical this season; at least until all of the receiving corps is in place and up to speed.
Check in with Bryan and John to hear them talk about it.
We leave the Offensive side of the ball, and head over to the defense and special teams. The Next review we’ll cover the Linebackers and the Defensive Backs. Hang in there, the team is taking shape and maybe by the end of the week we’ll find out if we are going to have a season or not.