Three Offensive Takeaways From Virginia Tech's 31-17 Win Over Old Dominion
Virginia Tech did a little more than enough to pick up their first win of the season yesterday defeating Old Dominion 31-17 to pick up some redemption from last season's defeat. Yesterday's performance was good overall for the passing game while questions remain about the running game, especially the offensive approach and scheme for running the football.
With that said, here are our takeaways from the Hokies' victory over Old Dominion.
1. Running Game Issues Continue
You've probably heard this before but Virginia Tech's running game is a mess with an approach that doesn't really fit the fact that the Hokies have tailbacks who should be put in situations to make plays in space outside the tackles without a loaded box. Given the receiver depth that the Hokies have, Virginia Tech's running game should be built more out of the shotgun with four receivers that can included tight ends James Mitchell and Dalton Keene given what they can bring both as receiving threats and blocking threats.
When you have players like King and McClease, you have to find ways to get them in space and get it down to only 5 or 6 players in the box. King and McClease have shown the speed to be threats in space and both may have the moves to win the type of one-on-one matchup that may be created in these situations.
Yes, there's the risk that King and McClease don't win those matchups and end up with no more than a 2 yard gain but then again, isn't that what the current rushing attack is doing more than half the time. Why not craft a running game that is built around the fact that this team, from RB to the WR/TE talent that provides a capable receiving/blocking threat, to the offensive line potential, is made for a running game that's built on the exterior rather than trying to run 5'9'' speed backs like their Jerome Bettis.
Of course, it remains to be seen if Virginia Tech actually makes adjustments to their running game scheme but until they do, don't be surprised to see the Hokies continue to struggle running the football.
2. Tayvion Robinson is Clearly the Real Deal
Tayvion Robinson showed last week that he was a legitimate playmaker and engraved that this week leading the Hokies in receptions (for the second-straight week) and receiving yards with 4 catches for 62 yards.
While it was thought that a transition from QB to WR may slow Robinson's ability to make a difference, the true freshman has been an instant impact in large part due to having one skill that can't be taught, speed.
That speed was on display again and again with his yards after catch shown best by the underneath crossing route where he easily outran the defender and had plenty of room to turn a short pass into a big gain. That speed also showed on his 1st first down conversion on a short reception where his speed helped him get to the edge a little quicker allowing him to get the extra yards needed for a first down.
Robinson's success isn't all because of his speed as he has been able to be effective in part because the Hokies have done a good job at building a set of routes and play around him that take advantage of his speed extremely well. Additionally, Robinson has shown more talent as a route runner than you would expect for a high school quarterback.
Of course, there is room for Robinson to grow as he had a second drop in two weeks with the reasoning once again appearing to be Robinson trying to run before he actually the ball. However, there's no doubt that overall, Tayvion Robinson is clearly the real deal and has a serious chance to be a Freshman All-American.
3. Hezekiah Grimsley's Growth, Versatility Flies Under The Radar
Hezekiah Grimsley hasn't received the attention that Tayvion Robinson, Tre Turner, and other Hokie receivers have but the junior has proven to be a versatile home run threat that brings consistency and competence to the position.
On Saturday, Grimsley's two catches both showed off different skill sets from his incredible touchdown showing great hand-eye coordination and great hands, to his 36-yard gain showing not only how he can gain lots of yards after the catch but also his overall danger in space due to his combination of speed and agility.
Additionally, Grimsley is comfortable in not only working as an outside receiver but also running a routes package that looks more reminiscent of a bigger outside receiver. The fact that the Hokies can use Grimsley with such versatility has allowed the Hokies to use better receiver packages that have Tre Turner, Tayvion Robinson, and Grimsley all on the field with Kaleb Smith and Phil Patterson allowing Grimsley to get a break or slide inside to give Robinson a break.
Grimsley's growth, along with the wide receiver unit's quality play as a whole, also makes new WRs coach Jafar Williams worthy of praise especially after the departure of Holmon Wiggins who did an excellent job in that role. While Justin Fuente's hires haven't all worked out, he has gotten it right with his WRs coaches whether it's Wiggins or Williams.
Even when Damon Hazelton returns, expect to see plenty of Hezekiah Grimsley not only in the slot but also on the outside as part of a receiving corps that is as deep as we've ever seen at Virginia Tech.