If you peel the onion, there is a lot more to our struggles in the RZ and short yardage than the OL. The OL has been good to very good the past 3 years, not just OK. In any given game, the OL winning up front is a 50/50 proposition. And a win by the OL doesn't mean huge gaping holes or 10 seconds to throw, but enough time and blocking to properly execute a play. There are very few dominant OL's that can simply overpower a BCS front 7.
In the red zone, defenses tend to play better because they obviously have less field to defend. Secondly, we don't throw it on 1st or 2nd downs. Our tendency is to try run it on 1st and 2nd, then throw it on 3rd down. Our run to pass ratio in the RZ on 1st and 2nd downs is something like 7 to 1. When defenses know what's coming, the D has a huge advantage. We simply go very conservative in the RZ and a lot of that is by design. The VT staff doesn't want to risk TO's in the RZ and risk losing out on at least 3 points. Against the better teams, you have to score TD's to win games. It's really the mindset and philosophy of our O, and you will continue to see it struggle in the RZ until we come around on this issue.
The red zone has way less open spots as the D has so much less to defend so passing is more risky than between the 20s. The red zone is where you do just hunker down and everybody drives just a little harder than the D does.
Red zone success is where the O as a unit drives a little harder than the D.
We weren't real good at that the last couple of years. Ryan could attack the middle but TT really couldn't. Then last year LT really could but DW was not so much. I have high hopes for Holmes this year.
The red zone more than anywhere else is dependent upon execution due solely to the D having to defend so much less.
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