Friday, July 11, 2008

2008 VT Preview - Offensive Line

The O-Line was the whipping post for Hokie fans for much of 2008. However, this year it is considered one of the best in the ACC. Hopefully the line can stay healthy, unlike last season. If the linemen (especially the crucial ones) avoid injury, the backbone of the offense will be strong.

The Hokies lost only one starting offensive lineman from last year in Duane Brown. Brown was responsible for protecting the quarterbacks blind-side last season, so it is a big loss. However, one of the better lineman from 2007, junior Ed Wang, will move to that position (left tackle) this season.

Moving from right to left tackle seems like an easy adjustment, but it isn't all the steps are reversed and there's added pressure of protecting the QB's blind spot. It's also more likely Wang will be paired against the defense's best pass-rusher.

The other side of the line is where things get dicey. Right tackle is likely to be occupied by a newcomer, redshirt freshman Blake DeChristopher. He will be battling for the spot with junior Richard Graham.

The middle of the line will be fine. Senior Nick Marshman was a fish out of water when he filled in for the injured Wang at right tackle the first part of last season. After he was able to move back to left guard, he was excellent.

Senior Ryan Shuman at center and junior Sergio Render at right guard will be the anchors of the line. Render might be the best offensive guard Tech has seen under Beamer.

Unlike last season, the offensive line might be the best asset for the Hokies in 2008. However, they will need to avoid injuries. The reason Tech struggled up front at the start of 2007 was that injuries caused players to be at positions they weren't used to playing. Once continuity was established, the offensive line thrived last season.

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