HokieHaven.com is continuing its series of breaking down Virginia Tech's coaching staffs and specifically, what they can look for at their positions.
Yesterday, we examined the offensive guards and centers, quarterbacks and wide receivers. Today we'll look at running backs, tight ends and offensive tackles and see what challenges each coach will face during summer practices and the 2012 season that will have the most impact on this team.
Beamer will be the first to admit that anyone could have coached David Wilson to an All-ACC type of performance last year because Wilson was just that special of a player. This is the year we find out if Beamer is actually an excellent coach or just a world class recruiter.
The younger Beamer will have a tough task on his hands this year as none of the projected top three running backs have ever touched the ball in a college football game. Starting in the summer and lasting all the way through the season Beamer will be watching these running backs and working on every little detail of the game with them including ball security, what lanes to run through, and what linebackers to pick up in protection schemes.
Michael Holmes is the leader to win the starting spot after redshirting last year and having an impressive spring. Holmes is a solid blocker and a downhill runner who will not be shifty or juke people out of their cleats but will find the hole and hit it hard and with a purpose.
J.C. Coleman is a highly touted recruit who is diminutive in size but has a load of potential. Coleman is the perfect complement to Holmes as Coleman is quick and shifty and has some straight line burst. Martin Scales is a converted fullback and the bruiser of the group who will run you over and will primarily be used in third and short and goal line situations.
None of these players will be as fast as Wilson or as shifty as Ryan Williams but each of these players has a unique skill set that can help this team win. Beamer also will have the tough task of figuring out which incoming freshman to redshirt and who to play.
Trey Edmunds and Drew Harris are both coming in with a lot of hype but Harris looks to be heading to FUMA for prep school while Edmunds may get moved to linebacker. Chris Mangus is another an incoming freshman running back but could get moved to slot receiver due to the fact that Tech signed a lot of running backs in this last class including Jerome Wright who will start off at tailback.
Against Georgia Tech we will see how well Shane Beamer has done at maximizing this unit's potential and getting them ready for ACC football.
Prediction: Look for Holmes to get the bulk of the carries this year with Coleman getting in every third or fourth series. Coleman will also have certain packages designed to get him the ball in space where he is most dangerous and Scales will be used primarily in short yardage situations.
Expect Harris to Prep this year at FUMA and enroll in January, which will put a little class separation between himself, Coleman, Mangus, and Edmunds. Edmunds is the sleeper here who I believe could turn some heads once preseason practice comes around.
Edmunds is the most athletic recruit Tech signed this past year and is big enough and fast enough to come in and really compete for playing time and make it hard for the coaches to keep him off of the field.
Stinespring is still the offensive coordinator but was relieved of play-calling duties in favor of Mike O'Cain at the beginning of last year. This has allowed Stinespring to focus on what he does best, which is coach players on the sideline instead of call plays from up in a box.
Stinespring is one of the better coaches and game planners on the team and while his play calling was no doubt horrible, his coaching and experience is invaluable. Stinespring is also the best recruiter on the team not named Shane Beamer and has consistently been the best recruiter over the past decade for Virginia Tech.
This offseason his main priorities will be evaluating the tight end depth chart and figuring out what to do at right tackle with Vinston Painter and Michael Via.
Let's start at tight end where there is a three headed monster consisting of Eric Martin, Randall Dunn, and Ryan Malleck. Martin is the most consistent blocker of the bunch while not bringing much to the table in terms of pass catching ability.
Dunn is the complete opposite as Martin and is a valuable weapon in the passing game but lacks the necessary blocking skills. Malleck is a combination of the two, not quite as strong of a blocker as Martin and not as athletic of a receiver as Dunn but Malleck does both things well and has the most potential of the group.
Stinespring's job this summer will be evaluating these three tight ends and seeing if any of them can become a more complete player. Look for a steady diet of two tight end sets this year with Dunn and Martin both in the game sometimes stacked on one side with Martin on the inside as essentially a sixth lineman who Virginia Tech can run towards and Dunn on the outside of the line who Logan Thomas can find in the passing game.
The Hokies will also be able to utilize all three of these tight ends in the red zone and not tip off the defense weather it is a power run toward Martin or a play action pass to Dunn or Malleck.
When it comes to the tackles Stinespring has a little more work to do. Nick Becton has split time as a starter at left tackle for the past two years and comes into this season with a lot of experience but he has played inconsistently at times.
The right side of the line is where it gets even trickier with Michael Via and Vinston Painter. If Via was not coming off of a knee injury it would be a no brainer as he would be plugged in to the starting right tackle spot and that would be the end of it, but Via has been out for the spring and it has opened the door for Painter.
Painter is a workout warrior and physical specimen of a human being but the mental part of the game just has not clicked for him while at Virginia Tech. As a junior last year Painter only played 49 snaps on offense and all of those were at the end of games in mop up duty while Via on the other hand played over 300 plays on offense last year.
Stinespring will spend all preseason watching Painter very closely and seeing if he is ready for the speed of ACC play. If Painter can pick up protections quicker and understand blitz concepts better this year then he could be a solid contributor, but he has yet to show that he can be a consistent player while at Virginia Tech.
Stinespring knows what he has in Via, which is a consistent player who can be plugged in at any lineman spot across the offensive line so this preseason will be all about determining Via's health.
Prediction: Martin barely beats out Dunn for the 'starting' tight end spot because of his superior blocking skills and because Tech is a power running team that does not involve the tight ends much in the passing game.
Dunn and Malleck will still be on the field a good amount but look for Martin to get the majority of time, especially on first and second downs. Becton will be the starting left tackle and if Via can come back completely healthy, which seems likely, he will win the starting right tackle spot. Via has proven to the coaches before he can start and play at a high level while Painter has not proven that yet.
Just like Becton and Lanier split series on the left side in 2011, Via and Painter could do the same this year on the right side. It is possible at right tackle you will see Via go in for two series then Painter come in for one or on the left side if Becton needs a breather have Via slide over to the left for a series and Painter go in on the right side.
All three of these senior tackles will see the field this year but expect Becton and Via to get the majority of the playing time.
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