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Adding depth to line, Nosal to rotate in at guard

Virginia Tech right guard Jaymes Brooks played 40 snaps in the Hokies’ 16-3 win over East Carolina last Thursday. His backup, Greg Nosal, played 36 snaps.

The play breakdown of each guard illustrates Virginia Tech’s increased depth along the offensive line, a luxury it has not had in recent years. On Saturday, there will be a three-man rotation at guard with Nosal entering for Brooks and Sergio Render when the Hokies (6-3, 3-2 ACC) play at Maryland (2-7, 1-4).

Asked when he realized Nosal, a redshirt sophomore, could be such a valuable asset, offensive line coach Curt Newsome said: “It was in the spring. He looked like he belonged once he got in there. It was kind of a surprise that it happened as fast. I thought it would be a long process. But it hasn’t taken near as long as I thought it would.”

Coach Frank Beamer has said he hoped that the offensive line could work into more of a rotation, like the defensive line. In years past, Beamer said, Virginia Tech got behind on recruiting players at offensive line and it was a weak spot for the team.

While the Hokies have started to come along, their offensive line has still shown some weaknesses. It struggled against Duke’s front and had trouble at times handling East Carolina, which hurried quarterback Tyrod Taylor six times and sacked him once.

Against East Carolina, Nosal came in to spell a tired Brooks, who was also sprained the pinkie finger on his right hand in the game. Nosal graded out at 81 percent.

“It helps me out a lot, because when I get tired out there, it gets ugly,” said Brooks, who graded out at 80 percent, with four knockdowns. “Having Nosal in there backing us up, it gives us a good breather.”

Not only was Virginia Tech playing with a third guard against the Pirates, it was relying on a redshirt freshman center, Michael Via, who was making his first career start. Beau Warren was out against the Pirates after spraining the medial collateral ligament in his left knee against North Carolina on Oct. 29.

Warren wore a green, non-activity jersey at practice on Monday. He was not made available to speak with reporters this week.

With a mix of new players, Virginia Tech has finally started to see some growth along its offensive line. It is the type of development that the Hokies had waited for in the hopes of rounding out its offense. It might still be a work in progress, but the offensive line seems to be improving as Virginia Tech builds a rotation of capable bodies to put on the field.

By Mark Viera  |  November 11, 2009; 9:45 AM ET
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