Eric Gallo’s Regression at Center Has Created a Big Weakness on Virginia Tech’s Offensive Line

As a freshman, Eric Gallo established himself at the backup center with the Hokies being ready to play him in some cases where David Wang needed some rest or if he had to go to the sidelines due to some sort of injury. Throughout the season, Wang would actually take some time to work one-on-one with Gallo including during the Military Bowl where you could see Wang taking snaps from Gallo on the sidelines during the Hokies’ win over Cincinnati.

Unsurprisingly, Gallo took the starting center job in 2015 after the graduation of Wang and proved to be more than simply adequate as the starting center. Gallo was one of the best offensive linemen for the Hokies in 2015 with the Pennsylvania native being seen in some games as the Hokies’ best offensive lineman while flying under the radar through many games because of his consistency and reliability.

Entering 2016, many believed the Hokies could have their best offensive line in years with four starters returning and while Virginia Tech’s offensive tackles have been good this season, the interior offensive line has struggled and that is largely due to what has been a year of regression for Eric Gallo.

Many were surprised to see Kyle Chung getting most of the snaps at center against Tennessee with that being the first sign that Gallo had regressed. Even since Gallo has reclaimed the starting center job, the junior has struggled and with Chung playing primarily at guard, the Hokies don’t really have another option at center for the rest of this season.

Gallo’s struggles have been largely due to how he hasn’t been a very good blocker and plenty of times has been a liability in run blocking. Virginia Tech has been unable to get an interior running game going and the blocking at center has been a big reason for it with defensive tackles being able to do plenty of damage against the interior OL including Gallo.

Eric Gallo’s blocking has been an issue throughout the season but the main reason why he kept his starting center job was the fact that he was fairly consistent with his snapping while Kyle Chung struggled with his snapping despite being the better blocker. However, even Gallo’s snapping has become an issue over the last couple of games.

Virginia Tech has had some issues with the snapping from Eric Gallo and it has led to some close calls with turnovers that could have proved costly. Gallo’s snapping had been the one reliable thing for him this season especially during the Hokies’ strong October but that has changed the past couple weeks with the Hokies not having anyone to push Gallo or take his job.

Part of the snapping issues could still be the fact that Gallo and Jerod Evans haven’t built the same chemistry that Michael Brewer and Gallo had last season but at this point, that is becoming less and less of a likely cause given the numerous clean reps the duo had during some big games.

Part of the issue seems to be that Gallo is in a funk, but there has to be a part of it could be Gallo trying to focus on his blocking and trying to react quicker after snapping the ball that could be causing him to rush him snaps. Whatever the issue may be, Gallo has taken steps back as a junior and could be pushed by Kyle Chung, Tyrell Smith, or someone else if the Hokies can find someone who can have clean snaps consistently.

While Gallo has regressed this season, there is no reason why he can’t at least get back to the level he was at last season and also get back to the level of snapping he was at earlier this season. For the Hokies, they need Gallo to improve soon and in the long run to help improve their rushing attack while also having more effective snaps and lessening the number of poor snaps that lead to fumbles, turnovers, and wasted plays.

Eric Gallo has regressed after showing tons of promise and potential over the past two years, creating an unexpected offensive line weakness that is hurting the Hokies’ rushing attack and leading to more wasted plays and turnovers,┬ábut there is also no reason why the junior can’t turn it around with his snapping over the final few games, and progress at least back to the level he was at as a sophomore over the course of the offseason before his senior season, but there are now questions as to will he return to that level.

If he doesn’t, no one should be surprised if Gallo is at least pressured by someone for his starting job.

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