Virginia Tech’s offensive woes this year can be blamed on every player and coach involved with play on that side of the ball, but one group in particular has come under fire and it appears that head coach Frank Beamer is ready to make a change. Is it a change that will get the Hokies’ offense going? That remains to be seen.
The Hokies running back corps is still trying to figure things out. Up until this point in the season Virginia Tech has rotated four different backs on a regular basis. The four backs that have been rotated are Michael Holmes, J.C. Coleman, Martin Scales and Tony Gregory. It has now become apparent that the number of backs receiving playing time is too high. Frank Beamer has made it clear that he wants to cut that number in half.
It is still unclear who the two featured backs will be, but the cut should help Virginia Tech’s problems in the running game. Featuring two players rather than four means that practice time will double for the two backs, which hopefully will help the inconsistency the Hokies have been facing. The idea seems simple enough; more practice time means that the two featured backs will get better.
Now the focus is on one question; who should be the two featured backs?
Michael Holmes began the season as Virginia Tech’s starting back. He is considered an all-around back but the results of his play have been less than impressive. He has had more rushing attempts than any other running back with 61 runs for a total of 257 yards (4.2 yard average.). J.C. Coleman has been the starter the past two weeks and has the second most rushing attempts on the season. He is the only running back that has had a 100 yard game on the ground this season (183 yards against Duke), but he has his drawbacks. He is a speedster but he is small. Coleman has the ability to break some tackles but those plays are few and far between.
Tony Gregory and Martin Scales are the two running backs that haven’t started a game for the Hokies and so neither of them have as many carries as Holmes or Coleman. Gregory is the fastest of the four backs but he has injury issues. He has already missed two games this season because of injury. However, I think that he may be the most complete back Virginia Tech has. He has carried the ball 29 times for 158 yards (5.4 yard average), if Gregory can stay healthy than he could be a viable option for the Hokies offense.
Scales is another interesting option. He is a bruising back that won’t run past defenders but rather through them. He is a good option in the red zone where he has the ability to punish opponents in a confined space. Scales has only run the ball 23 times for a total of 109 yards (4.7 yard average).
I think that the best options at running back are Gregory and Scales, although I think Coleman is another good option. The only back that I don’t have a lot of faith in is Holmes. Holmes has the lowest average of the backs despite the fact that he has the most carries. It often appears that Holmes doesn’t hit holes as hard or as quickly as the other three backs, and he is often held to short gains on runs because of that hesitation. When thinking about who the featured backs should be it is necessary to state that Gregory and Scales have more experience. Coleman is a true freshman and Holmes is a redshirt freshman. An extra year to grow and develop as players can only help them.
Gregory’s speed makes him a big play threat every time he touches the ball and Scales ability to break tackles makes him a threat in the red zone. Those are the reasons I think that Gregory and Scales are the right options for the Hokies.