Running Game Critical for Virginia Tech Hokies Turnaround in 2013

By Tyler Brett
j.c. coleman
Bob Donnan – USA TODAY Sports

The Virginia Tech Hokies are used to a certain level of success. So when they stumbled to a 7-6 record in 2012, their worst in the last 20 years, Frank Beamer knew something had to change in 2013. So he went out and found a host of new offensive coaches to try and fix the Hokies’ struggling offense. New offensive coordinator Scot Loeffler and offensive line coach Jeff Grimes were brought in to restore the physical, lunch-pail toughness to the offense that VT is famous for. Their first task for 2013 will be fixing the running game.

Everything that Beamer, and by extension Loeffler, wants to do on offense is predicated on the run. Tech wants to have a physical running game that sets up the play-action and can help the Hokies control time of possession as they grind out games. It’s the philosophy that Beamer has built his career on and the same one that Loeffler used with great success under Lloyd Carr with the Michigan Wolverines.

It was something that Virginia Tech failed to do in 2012, though. The Hokies averaged just 145.8 yards per game on the ground, ranking No. 81 in rushing last season. Their leading rusher was quarterback Logan Thomas who ran for 524 yards. While Thomas’ production with his legs is a nice bonus, having him pace the running game isn’t a sustainable offensive philosophy next season.

The running backs will have to step up their game. J.C. Coleman led all running backs with  just 492 yards rushing, the lowest total for VT backs in more than 45 years. Part of the problem was an offensive line that struggled to run block, getting pushed around by defensive lines which didn’t allow running lanes to open up. Grimes is intent on changing that in 2013, however, vowing to make his unit the “toughest line in the ACC” when he was hired.

Improvement in the running game is vital for Virginia Tech to bounce back offensively in 2013. Everything in a Beamer-led offense is predicated off the ability to run the football effectively. Without a viable rushing attack next season, the Hokies could be in for back-to-back disappointing seasons.

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