BLACKSBURG – A lot has been made of the zone blocking scheme being implemented by offensive line coach Jeff Grimes and coordinator Scot Loeffler, as they attempt to improve a Tech rushing attack that finished 79th nationally a year ago.
For those unfamiliar with zone blocking – which is probably many fans – it simply means a lineman is responsible for a certain zone and blocks whoever comes into that zone. In a man scheme, a lineman blocks a particular defensive player. The zone blocking scheme places an emphasis on athleticism and footwork over sheer size and brawn.
“I love it,” offensive tackle Jon McLaughlin said. “It’s a lot of running. It’s a better way to get more pancakes. You have defenders running sideways in a sense. I love it.”
Tech’s offensive linemen have responded positively to the scheme, but it’s not as if they are doing something totally new. They used a combination of blocking schemes a year ago, including zone blocking.
However, the zone-blocking scheme probably works more in their favor, considering the athleticism of guys like McLaughlin, Andrew Miller, David Wang and Laurence Gibson. Even guys known more for their strength, like guard Brent Benedict and guard/center Caleb Farris, like the commitment to this scheme.
“It’s just a different way of doing things,” Benedict said. “That’s all it is. It is a different system, and it’s taken some learning. Everyone has focused on that a lot and getting everything down, so we’ll know what we’re doing when we’re out there.”
In the end, this unit simply wants to be able to run the ball with authority. Thus, being moved around to different positions and play various schemes doesn’t bother them.
“I think they [the coaches] have a plan and I think it’s moving right along,” Benedict said. “I think we’ve definitely improved.“We just want to be the best we can be. That’s been the plan from day 1. That’s our goal.”
For updates on Virginia Tech football, follow the Hokies on Twitter (@VT_Football).