- The Washington Times - Wednesday, October 11, 2006

BLACKSBURG, Va. — As the senior spokesman for a young offensive line, Virginia Tech center Danny McGrath has done more than his share of explaining leading up to tonight’s conference game at Boston College.

At 6-foot-2 and 293 pounds, McGrath is a bulky presence with all the physical grace of a dump truck. But he’s also a surprisingly articulate fifth-year player who already has completed his undergraduate degree and is enrolled in the health and physical education graduate program.

When the questions about Virginia Tech’s offensive line ring harsh, he has a habit of rubbing a heavy hand back to front over his perpetually mussed hair.

“I’m pretty proud of the young guys stepping up, and they’ve been playing pretty well for us,” he said. “Sometimes it looks worse than it actually is to common fans. We get in there every week and work our tails off to get better and become a better line. When something goes wrong, you kind of have to brush it off a little bit and look forward.”

Forward may be the only place this line can look with pride as the Hokies prepare to play Boston College (4-1, 1-1) tonight in Chestnut Hill. Traditionally a hard-running team, the Hokies are currently outrushing only winless Duke and floundering Virginia in the ACC. In a losing effort against Georgia Tech, Hokies quarterback Sean Glennon tied a school record for pass attempts in a game at 53 and was sacked four times as the Yellow Jackets’ three touchdown lead in the first quarter forced Virginia Tech to play from behind the whole game. Leading rusher Branden Ore was held to 59 yards on 14 carries and was ultimately yanked for missed blocking assignments.

“I think anytime the quarterback gets sacked, it goes immediately to the offensive line — and here they didn’t give up a sack,” offensive coordinator Bryan Stinespring said. “Tight end gave up one, fullback gave up one, a miscommunication on a pickup gave up another.”

McGrath agreed that the difficulties against Georgia Tech were not all the responsibilities of his immediate colleagues along the line. “When we get sacked, we get a bad plays here or there. It’s not one thing,” he said. “Really, it’s kind of a collective team effort when something goes wrong. … We need to cut those miscommunications, those mess-ups, out if we want to be successful. And I think it’s more communication than anything.”

McGrath, whom Stinespring describes as a kind of offensive coordinator in both temperament and on-the-field duties, admits blocking has been problematic, particularly around the edges.

“I think I’m more concentrated on the two guards and how they’re playing every play. We’re closely connected on every block. The tackles, the tight ends, a little trouble’s been going on.”

The two guards, true freshman Sergio Render on the right and third-year sophomore Ryan Shuman on the left, have been McGrath’s primary concern for most of the season. He said that he worried about the young quarterback behind him through the first few games, but Glennon has settled in well — leaving McGrath free to look after his young linemates.

“I kind of worry about them because I haven’t played with Sergio and Ryan very long,” he said. “Sometimes I have sit there and tell them make sure you’re doing this. I think Shuman gets a little mad. Sergio appreciates it, but sometimes Shuman likes to get a little mad at me. I’m always trying to get those two guys in the best position for us to succeed, but other than that it’s kind of more me being a warrior for these guys than anything.”

Note — The Hokies named walk-on flanker Brandon Dillard, a redshirt freshman, to the travel team earlier this week — a likely substitution for split end Josh Hyman, who reportedly was arrested and charged with DUI late Friday night. But quarterback Sean Glennon will have receivers David Clowney and Josh Morgan back, Clowney from surgery and Morgan from a one game suspension.

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