ACC notebook: Hokies focus on offense

ACC notebook: Hokies focus on offense

Published Apr. 12, 2013 10:19 a.m. ET

Virginia Tech’s problem a year ago was an offense that at times was so awful a first down was simple cause for a celebration.

Quarterback Logan Thomas was high on everyone’s NFL Draft board and was considered a secondary Heisman Trophy candidate. Thomas didn’t come close to living up to that billing and the Hokies sputtered all season, sometimes in embarrassing fashion. They finished 81st in the nation in total offense and scoring.

The mood this spring has been upbeat and laced with the optimism that the offense would be much more efficient in the fall. Thomas has graded out well in camp so far, but Monday’s scrimmage should raise a red flag for Hokie Nation. There wasn’t one touchdown scored in the 101-play scrimmage while the defense racked up 10 sacks.

Virginia Tech — 7-6 overall and 4-4 in the ACC last season — will be solid defensively even on its worst days, and darn good the rest of the time. But defense will only get this program so far. It needs to start scoring points. With the opener against Alabama in the Chick-fil-A Classic, avoiding a nightmare start to the season will mean crossing the goal line a few times.

But Hokies’ coach Frank Beamer likes smash-mouth football, and he was pleased to see the physicality of the defense and overall effort in the scrimmage.

“I really liked our scrimmage,” said Beamer, the program’s head man for 26 years. “I thought the effort was excellent, and it has been all spring. I thought the execution was good for a first scrimmage on both sides of the ball. There’s going to be a lot to learn from, but we weren’t running into each other.”

Thomas completed just seven of his 17 pass attempts for 164 yards and two interceptions. He had completions of 37, 46 and 63 yards. Overall, the offense was responsible for four turnovers.

Miami will play its spring game Saturday, concluding spring football practice, and third-year coach Al Golden is ecstatic.

Golden says everything about the team is much further ahead of where it was a year ago. In particular, he noted the development of offensive tackle Seantrel Henderson, whose career has been rather inconsistent given the expectations when he arrived as one of the highest-rated tackle prospects in years.

Henderson has been suspended twice that we know of and has been the focus of tremendous scrutiny. At 6-foot-8 and 345 pounds, he’s massive even for football standards. His size brought on early comparisons to other superstar offensive linemen such as Orlando Pace and Jonathan Ogden.

That, in some respects, has served as a negative for Henderson.

One of the purposes of college, though, is that it offers young people time to develop and mature. Accounts from Coral Gables say that the senior is on the right page and ready for a sensational season this coming fall.

“His house is in order,” Golden recently told the Palm Beach Post. “He’s eliminating all the things that cause distractions, that cause him to fail. He has talent to be a great one. We still have time to make him a great one.”

Somehow, someway, Wake Forest manages to scrimmage, but it’s not easy because the Demon Deacons have just eight offensive linemen at their disposal this spring.

For various reasons, Wake Forest is dealing with a major issue that has hampered the development of new looks in its ground game and building general cohesion. Of course, the upside is that all eight players are getting a ton of snaps in camp, but the negatives outweigh the positives.

“One of the issues we get into right now is we’re playing some guards and tackles at center, and the snaps aren’t always good,” Demon Deacons coach Jim Grobe told the media after Thursday’s practice. “I thought that was our biggest problem offensively. Our timing was not good today, and quarterback decisions were not good today at times.

“But I thought one of the reasons the quarterback decisions weren’t great was some of the snaps weren’t sharp. That’s something we’ve really got to work on. My biggest concern is just timing and, of course, that all starts with the snap.”

The attrition along the offensive line includes: two players finished their eligibility and graduated; another player’s career ended because of an injury; another transferred; one player was arrested, suspended and chose not to return to the program; two others are recovering from injuries; and one final player has blood clots and will not play this season.