Virginia Tech's offense making slow and steady progress

Posted by ESPN.com's Heather Dinich

Over the past three weeks, Virginia Tech's offense has shown gradual improvement, and this Saturday's game against Western Kentucky, which is followed by a bye week, should give the Hokies ample time to work out any remaining kinks before entering the heart of their ACC schedule.

"The big thing with us, certainly we respect every opponent and we respect Western Kentucky, but in the big picture for us, it's can we improve as a football team?" Beamer said. "That's what we've got to put our hope on and be a factor in this thing at the end. But to do that we've got to continue to improve with a lot of new guys. I think we're getting better, but we've got to get better this week."

Heading into this week, the Hokies lead the Coastal Division with a 2-0 ACC record, but are in the bottom half of the offensive statistical rankings in almost every major category. Since their 20-17 win over Georgia Tech on Sept. 13, though, Virginia Tech has continued to inch toward figuring out its offensive identity.

Here are a few numbers that indicate progress:

  • The Hokies increased their average gain per play from four yards against Georgia Tech to 5.4 against Nebraska.

  • They improved from 5.3 yards per completion against Georgia Tech to 19 against Nebraska.

  • They are getting more first downs by throwing the ball (two against Georgia Tech, six against UNC, seven against Nebraska).

  • Their most productive game in terms of total offense was against the Cornhuskers with 377.

Beamer said part of that can be attributed to the return of right tackle Blake DeChristopher to the offensive line, but also because receivers are running more precise routes, the blocking is better, the running game is developing, and quarterback Tyrod Taylor is growing into the position each week.

"All of those things are coming together a little bit, and Tyrod, he's got ability," Beamer said. "He can make a guy miss and all of a sudden he's throwing the ball downfield to an open receiver. He can come out after and pick you up a first down running it. And he likes playing.

"He had a lot of fun (at Nebraska). He enjoyed playing out there. The louder it got, the better he liked it. You kind of like a guy like that at your quarterback position."

Still, the team is dependant on its running game. Virginia Tech is averaging 48 rushing attempts per game compared to 17 passing attempts. Taylor might be their most productive runner, as he leads the team with 77 yards per game and 5.5 yards per carry.

Kenny Lewis and Darren Evans are 1a and 1b, respectively, while Josh Oglesby brings power and speed that Beamer said he would like to use more. Dustin Pickle is their dependable two-minute back.

"I think we're getting better, I do," Beamer said. "It's a team thing. ... As an offensive team, I think we're getting better."