The Roanoke Times takes a look at how Virginia Tech utilized its tight ends in 2014 and sees a lot of promise at the position.
This is no surprise. Offensive coordinator Scott Loeffler has utilized his tight ends at every stop he’s made in his career, and before Ryan Malleck went down with an injury in 2013, the plan had been to make him a key contributor to the Hokies’ game plan -- predicting as many as 60 catches.
From the Times:
That revelation, made last spring, was met with at least some skepticism, but looking at how the Hokies used their tight ends in 2014 -- a banner season in terms of production from the position -- it was very realistic in hindsight.
Buoyed by Bucky Hodges' breakout year and [Ryan] Malleck's steady production, Hokies tight ends became very much a focal point of the offense, more so than they have been in most of Frank Beamer's time in Blacksburg.
Hodges and Malleck (and for one game a hobbled Kalvin Cline) combined for 70 catches, 724 yards and nine touchdowns this past season, dwarfing the offensive production from the tight end position in recent memory.
Among ACC teams, only Miami had more receiving yards by tight ends, and no team had more catches or touchdowns by the position.
That’s an interesting twist moving forward, because Bucky Hodges' emergence gives Virginia Tech one of the best offensive mismatches in the ACC. But there’s one other thing to note here, too. Virginia Tech utilized its tight ends at a higher rate than all but five other Power 5 schools, and it’s not exactly a who’s who of offensive juggernauts.
Here’s the offensive production of the 10 teams that used their tight ends the most:
Overall, the group had a combined record of 63-65 and an average rank of 90th in total offense. Only two of those teams finished in the top 50 in total offense -- Wisconsin and Miami -- and they also had two of the best running backs in the nation. The Hokies, meanwhile, were 92nd nationally in yards per carry.
The point being, having an elite tight end can be a valuable weapon, but it’s probably not ideal to have it be your primary weapon. And getting stronger on the ground and on the offensive line remain necessary improvements if Virginia Tech is going to make a big offensive leap in 2015.
A few more links:
Mel Kiper Jr. says another year in college would’ve helped former Syracuse DB Durell Eskridge, writes Syracuse.com. Of course, there are plenty of other factors to consider, too — money being the big one. In 2013, I wrote about Eskridge’s troubled upbringing, which included a stint living in a car.
Former Virginia tight end Jake McGee was granted a sixth year of eligibility at Florida by the NCAA, writes the Daily Progress.
Tar Heel Blog has a shot of the work being done to repair irrigation systems at Keenan Stadium. It looks like a serious job.
The Post & Courier looks at the draft prospects for Clemson’s stars on defense.
The Post-Gazette chats Pitt football, with as many questions about the script logo as the new coaching staff.
The Courier-Journal runs down a number of key changes and updates on Louisville’s 2015 roster.
Darren Waller had a great Capital One Orange Bowl, looked good in the Shrine Game and is now prepping for the combine, writes the Atlanta Journal-Constitution.