It seems whenever the SEC plays, I see Hokie fans on message boards and on Twitter pose the question, “Why can’t we have an o-line like [insert SEC team here].” In a recent Twitter conversation with @hokiesmash, he posed the question why can’t the Hokies have an offensive line at least as good as Pitt or BC’s? Pitt and BC might not be the gold standard for great offensive play but they are consistently good in the ACC and should be a model for the Hokies to follow. So the question is, why are Pitt and BC’s offensive lines better than the Hokies? Let’s look deeper into if that’s true and if so, why?
Where do Pitt and BC recruit their linemen from and how talented are they perceived to be when they enroll?
* Star values come from 247sports.com’s composite rankings
2014 Commits: PA (2), MI, CT
2013 Commits: PA (3), OH, NY
1 3 1
2012 Commits: PA, WI
2011 Commits: PA, NY
States Represented: PA (7), NY (2), CT, OH, MI, WI
Average Stars: 3.08 stars
2014 Commits: MA (2), GA
2013 Commits: No Offensive Line Commits
2012 Commits: VA, MA, NJ
2011 Commits: MA (2), IL (2), PA, MD
States Represented: MA (4), IL (2), NJ, PA, MD, VA, GA
Average Stars: 2.77 stars
2014 Commits: NJ (2), PA, OH
2013 Commits: VA (3)
2012 Commits: VA (2), PA (2)
2011 Commits: VA
States Represented: VA (6), PA (3), NJ (2), OH
Average stars: 2.75 stars
Do the Hokies recruit the same areas as Pitt and BC? Yes. All three schools have recruited the Northeast and Mid-Atlantic.
Do the Hokies have roughly the same recruiting success as Pitt and BC? Pitt’s offensive line recruiting has been better than both BC and VT. Pitt has one 5-star and two 4-star offensive line recruits. BC and VT have no 4 or 5 star offensive line recruits.
How have the results been different on the field been different over the last 4 years?
2014 Rushing Offense Ranking: 19th
2014 Sacks Allowed: 51st
2013 Rushing Offense Ranking: 102nd
2013 Sacks Allowed: 118th
2012 Rushing Offense Ranking: 92nd
2012 Sacks Allowed: 102nd
2014 Rushing Offense Ranking: 8th
2014 Sacks Allowed: 34th
2013 Rushing Offense Ranking: 20th
2013 Sacks Allowed: 44th
2012 Rushing Offense Ranking: 115th
2012 Sacks Allowed: 106th
2014 Rushing Offense Ranking: 77th
2014 Sacks Allowed: 51st
2013 Rushing Offense Ranking: 109th
2013 Sacks Allowed: 96th
2012 Rushing Offense Ranking: 79th
2012 Sacks Allowed: 60th
Boston College has by far been the most successful team on the offensive line. The 2012 season was nightmare that they rebounded nicely from. Pitt has not been better than the Hokies for the last two years before a huge improvement this year (hello James Conner). For the Hokies, 2012 was a mediocre year on the offensive line. 2013 was downright awful. So far, 2014 has been a return to mediocrity. So what does all this tell us and what do the Hokies need to do?
Well, out of the three teams analyzed, the Hokies are definitely getting the least out of their recruits. You can blame it on coaching transitions (three coaches in the last three years) or you can blame it on the quality of those coaches. I do not have enough insight into the program to give you the answer to that question but the level of production is clear. So what’s the answer? In my opinion it’s two-fold – pick a fertile recruiting area where you feel like you can be successful then get those recruits to sign with your program. Stacy Searels appears to be favoring the Southeast (Virginia to Florida) but he has gone as far as Massachusetts for a recruit. The biggest issue is picking an area where the Hokies can win the recruiting battles. It doesn’t make sense to spend a lot of time recruiting guys in the South who are going to the SEC anyway. It would seem like the low-hanging fruit would be recruiting the Northeast and Mid-Atlantic but if Stacy Searels feels like he can be successful in the Southeast – I hope he feels like he can close the deal with those recruits. Otherwise, the Hokies will not be getting any better on the offensive line any time soon. Virginia Tech will not be successful with the SEC’s leftovers. They are better off following Pitt and BC’s example by recruiting the Northeast and Mid-Atlantic. Then have some stability on the coaching staff to get the most out of those recruits.