Long gone are the days where the Hokies would bleed the clock by simply running the ball down their opponents' throats.
In 2012, the Hokies have struggled to find an identity running the ball, and it’s no surprise that losses are piling up as less and less yards are being gained on the ground.
In Tech’s losses to Pittsburgh and Carolina, it has run for 59 and 40 yards, while opponents ran for 254 and 339, respectively.
Even quarterback Logan Thomas has been having issues running the ball. He is on pace to rush for less than 300 yards this season, nearly 170 yards less than last year’s total.
Fans have been spoiled the last two years by not only having Heisman hopefuls and future NFL players like David Wilson and Ryan Williams carrying the ball, but also an offensive line that had its way with opposing defenses.
With guys like Blake DeChristopher, Andrew Lanier and Greg Nosal, there were very few defensive lines that could matchup against the Hokies’ offensive linemen. But those players and all of their All-ACC accolades are gone.
The entire offensive line is full of new starters, with the exception of center Andrew Miller, who despite being the anchor of the line, can’t carry the whole load and has had troubles staying healthy.
Guys like Vinston Painter, Mark Arkema and Michael Via haven’t been complete turn styles, but they certainly haven’t been the dominating wall that Hokies fans are accustomed to seeing.
“(It’s about) consistency. We’ve got to consistently, as a group, pick up our assignments to the best of our abilities,” Painter said. “We’ll do that by having a great week of practice. By working the same way in practice as we do in the games.”
The two-headed monster attack of Michael Holmes and J.C. Coleman hasn’t been as effective as anticipated either, but Holmes is optimistic about the remainder of the season.
“Once I start getting the ball and getting more comfortable, things just start getting easier and easier,” he said. “We still have a lot of time in front of us, but we need to start clicking.”
Maybe the expectations were too high for the freshmen backs, as neither of them had played at the collegiate level before this year. Coaches have continued to insist the tandum has what it takes to get Tech's running game back to where it was in years past, it is just a matter of waiting for them to mature.
They’ll have to learn quickly though,as teams with strong defensive lines like Clemson and Florida State stand right around the corner.
Imbalance is the song of the Hokies’ offense this season, with nearly double the amount of passing yards as rushing yards, and Thomas’ arm can’t alone win Tech games, especially with an erratic receiving corp.
But running backs coach Shane Beamer acknowledges that sometimes imbalance is necessary.
“Each Saturday is different and we’re going to do what gives us the best chance to win. It might be running, it might be throwing,” he said.
The pressure is now on the Hokies, and the team is facing levels of criticism not seen in years, and Shane Beamer knows they need to just ignore it.
“We’ve got to relax and have fun. Block out the outside noise and just focus on the little things and details of your position,” he said.
“We just have to get out there and turn it loose.”