Those are the rules head coach Frank Beamer came up with for Saturday, a compromise after keeping the first-team players all on the Maroon side and the second-team players on the White team.
“I think it really helps to keep your groups together,” Beamer said after Thursday’s small scrimmage at the stadium (the stats for which are at the bottom of this post). “Then you want to get a great evaluation of those second-team guys, and it doesn’t get any better than them going against the first group.”
To even the odds, the first team will spot the second team 21 points. Quarterback Logan Thomas was a little surprised by the format, but he liked it.
“It’s something different,” he said. “But I think they want to see how we react and see how we play down and then, if we do get the lead, how we play while we’re up. I think it will be a good evaluation.”
Beamer said the spring game will be another good tool to determine who is ready to play on the two-deep come fall. But the weekend has a lot more going on than just one more practice, albeit one in front of a decent-sized crowd.
The Hokies are bracing themselves for a big recruiting weekend. They’ll meet as a staff Friday morning to finalize a guest list.
Tech hopes to have a good crowd welcome them. The Hokies have routinely drawn over 40,000 at their spring game in the past. Running backs coach Shane Beamer couldn’t help but take a jab at state rival Virginia on that topic.
“I saw where our rival school had 8,000 or something at their spring game, which is a nice little crowd,” Shane said. “We’ll probably have that for pre-game, maybe.
“I think when you get a chance to get prospects on your campus to see how important and how powerful the Hokie Nation is — and hopefully have a lot of people in that stadium like I know we will — it’s an eye-opener when prospects can come on your campus. …
“Anytime you can get all of these recruits and put them together with all of the signees as well, it’s a lot of beneficial things that come with that. We need to make sure Saturday is a big day.”
Some other notes and quotes from tonight …
- Former running backs coach and current assistant to the head coach Billy Hite said 240 former Virginia Tech players will be in two for the Letterman’s Reunion he has been organizing for the last year. It’s the first of its kind in Blacksburg, an idea started by Hite, who said he’s only been able to get to one at his alma mater, North Carolina, because of yearly spring football obligations. Hite sent out letters and emails to 800 former players, even getting on Facebook to get the word out (a work-study helper from the business office, Chris Ullrich, was invaluable, Hite said). The weekend will start with golf Friday, before a dinner and social, culminating at the spring game, when the former players will be announced in groups. The plan is for it to become an annual tradition at Tech.
- By the way, the oldest reunion member played at Virginia Tech in 1943. His name escaped Hite when I spoke with him at practice, but he’s got to be around 90 years old.
- Quarterback Mark Leal wasn’t out there practicing again tonight because of a respiratory issue that’s kept him out for a little over a week. Trainer Mike Goforth wasn’t ready to rule him out for the spring game quite yet. He said Tech will wait and see. Goforth was less optimistic about Marcus Davis, who is sidelined with a hamstring problem. Sounds like he won’t be a participant Saturday.
- Goforth said linebacker Jeron Gouveia-Winslow (Lisfranc) and defensive tackle Antoine Hopkins (ACL) have progressed enough that they could play Saturday if they wanted to. Tech is holding them out. They’ve been in blue, limited contact jerseys all spring.
- No luck getting Shane to bite on giving a running back pecking order at the end of spring. He noted that Michael Holmes got the first reps but said the dynamic of the competition will change come fall, when Trey Edmunds, Drew Harris and Chris Mangus arrive. “No matter what kind of order we have right now, when August comes around we’ve got a couple other guys we’ll throw in that mix and see what they can do.” He said all have gotten equal work with the first team. “We want to be fair,” Shane said. (More on the running backs in a blog post in the late morning tomorrow.)
- Wide receiver Demitri Knowles had some ice wrapped around his right arm. He said he took two big hits Thursday and they both came from cornerback Antone Exum, who leveled him on an end around during Saturday’s scrimmage too. “I heard the ‘ooh’ [from the crowd],” Knowles said of Saturday’s hit. “I was like, ‘ahhh.’ That hurt me. But I think I’m pretty tough, so it’s all a part of the sport.” He didn’t see it coming. “I guess it’s entertaining to see, but it hurts kind of,” he said with a laugh.
- How has Thomas progressed this spring? Pretty well. His cousin Zack McCray said he was more relaxed this spring. Thomas agreed, saying he’s less uptight. “I wanted to be perfect with everything,” he said. “Sometimes you can’t be perfect on every snap. And I kind of beat myself up about it, but this year you kind of let it roll off your back, because you know there’s the next down coming. That’s kind of just something I learned through the second half of our season.”
Here are the stats from Thursday’s scrimmage:
- Rushing — Coleman 4-37, TD, Holmes 6-13, 2 TD, David Mellstrom 2-7, Greg Gadell 2-4, Scales 5-(-8).
- Passing — Logan Thomas 6-14-0, 96 yards, 2 TD, Trey Gresh 3-7-1 68 yards, 1 TD, Brian Rody 4-7-2 38 yards.
- Receiving — Darius Redman 3-49, Corey Fuller 2-59, Knowles 2-20, TD, Kevin Asante 1-37, TD, Dyrell Roberts 1-15, TD, Riley Beiro 1-8, E.L. Smiling 1-8, Christian Reeves 1-4, Joey Phillips 1-2.
- Punting — Michael Branthover 2-68, Ethan Keyserling 1-32.
- Tackles — Detrick Bonner 4, Theron Norman 4, Michael Cole 3, Donaldven Manning 3, Tyrel Wilson 3, Derrick Hopkins 3, Exum 2, Kyle Fuller 2, Boye Aromire 2, Nick Dew 2, Ronny Vandyke 2, Derek DiNardo 2, Brian Laiti 2, Jack Tyler 2, Luther Maddy 2, McCray 2, Kris Harley 2, James Gayle 2, Alonzo Tweedy 1, Kyshoen Jarrett 1, Chase Williams 1, Corey Marshall 1.
- TFLs — Tyler 1.5, Cole 1, Manning 1, Maddy 1, McCray 1, Gayle 1, Fuller .5, Tweedy .5, Vandyke .5.
- Sacks — Manning 1, McCray 1, Gayle 1, Vandyke .5, Tyler .5.
- Interceptions — Bonner 1, Dew 1, Jarrett 1.