Entering fall camp, Tyrell Smith was expected to be the starting right tackle
after a strong spring. Meanwhile, right guard was a wide open competition between Parker Osterloh, Kyle Chung, and Braxton Pfaff.
Early in camp, Smith still appeared to have the right tackle job locked down while Parker Osterloh appeared to be the slight leader at right guard based on an open practice.
However, yesterday's depth chart reveal came with a few surprises on the right side of the offensive line.
Kyle Chung Over Tyrell Smith at RT
This was the biggest surprises from yesterday's depth chart reveal with senior Kyle Chung being named the starting right tackle over Tyrell Smith. Most expected that Smith would be the starter and that if he wasn't, it would be Parker Osterloh. However, Chung has pulled the surprised and, at least for the first week, will be the starting right tackle.
Justin Fuente had this to say on Kyle Chung earning the starting right tackle job.
"We moved Kyle [Chung] out there and he’s always been an athletic guy for us and really took to it pretty well." - Fuente on Kyle Chung (August 28th)
Chung's athleticism has been something that has been constantly praised throughout his time in Blacksburg. Chung also has lots of experience all over the offensive line and should have the versatility to move outside. Chung is undersized for a right tackle at 6'3'' but, at least in the eyes of Vance Vice, he has made up for his lack of size with his athleticism and blocking skills.
However, it's also clear that Chung will have to play well in order to keep that job especially as Tyrell Smith gets fully healthy.
Fuente said that he wasn't down on Tyrell Smith at all, but it's likely that Smith's minor injuries helped open the door for Chung to win the job. Smith likely will be one of the Hokies' top backups to start the season with the versatility to work all over the line but if Chung struggles early, Smith will be ready to take over.
Smith is also still in position to be the Hokies' future starting right tackle with Chung and Parker Osterloh graduating after this season and D'Andre Plantin appearing to work more at guard than tackle now. However, Smith will look to take Kyle Chung's starting job away but the senior will definitely put in the work to hold on to the first starting role of his career.
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Braxton Pfaff Earns Starting RG Job
This was the least surprising news as redshirt junior Braxton Pfaff has earned the starting right guard job. Pfaff was the backup at right guard to Augie Conte last season and was able to beat out a pair of redshirt seniors, though it appears that Kyle Chung's focus may have been more at right tackle in the last couple of weeks.
Braxton Pfaff now is set up to be the Hokies' right guard for the next two years and will be a veteran next year on an offensive line that will see departures from Wyatt Teller, Eric Gallo, Kyle Chung, and Parker Osterloh. Pfaff has been able to learn a lot from Augie Conte over the past couple of years while also playing in nine games last season. That experience should prove valuable especially with Pfaff making his debut in a big game against a top 25 West Virginia team.
While Pfaff is the right guard of the future, he also will have a short leash with guys like Tyrell Smith and Parker Osterloh ready to push Pfaff and Kyle Chung for their starting jobs. If Pfaff struggles, he likely will have a short leash similar to Colt Pettit last season before he lost his starting job to Wyatt Teller.
D'Andre Plantin Makes Two-Deep at RG
This was a big surprise as D'Andre Plantin made the two-deep at right guard and not offensive tackle where he started his career. Plantin's sudden rise up the depth chart to break into the two-deep should be an encouraging sign about the redshirt sophomore's future in Blacksburg.
Plantin likely won't be at the top of the backup offensive line rotation given the versatility of a guy like Tyrell Smith. However, Plantin's experience at both tackle and guard gives him the versatility that may open the door to get a few backup reps along with getting some garbage time reps to develop and gain experience.
Working with the backups should give Plantin some extra reps in practice that may open the door for him to compete for starting jobs at left guard and right tackle next spring with a pair of seniors in those spots currently. Plantin is starting to break through and should be a big part of future offensive lines with the Hokies.
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Parker Osterloh Misses Two-Deep Completely
This may be the biggest surprise of them all as redshirt senior Parker Osterloh missed out on the Hokies' two-deep completely. Osterloh seemed to previously be the favorite at right guard while also having the size and experience to push Tyrell Smith at right tackle as well. However, Osterloh has surprisingly missed out on the initial two-deep.
Osterloh has dealt with some injuries in the past and our first instinct is to wonder if Osterloh has some sort of minor injury. If that is the case, don't be surprised to see Osterloh re-emerge very soon once he's healthy and push for the starting jobs at right guard and tackle.
If Osterloh is simply struggling in practice, he still can't be counted out especially at right tackle where he has ideal at 6'7'' compared to Smith and Kyle Chung who are both undersized at 6'3''. However, the past year has proven that Vance Vice is willing to put offensive linemen who are "undersized" to play tackle out there, making Osterloh's task a little more difficult than you'd expect.
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