The ACC Kickoff (aka media days) is fast approaching. I’ll be using the blog to count down to what we media members consider the unofficial start of the football season. This isn’t a list of the 25 best players on Virginia Tech’s roster. It’s a list of 25 things/people that will determine whether the Hokies’ 2012 season is a success or not. That includes players and coaches from both Virginia Tech and, occasionally, a few of its opponents.
No. 11: Key reserves
Those reserves could be called upon again or at the very least give the starters a breather every now and then, which is why they’re critical to a the team’s success.
I’ll feature six in this post — defensive tackle Luther Maddy, linebackers Jack Tyler, Chase Williams and Alonzo Tweedy, and offensive linemen Michael Via and Caleb Farris – although plenty more could make the cut.
Maddy, a 6-foot-1, 288-pound sophomore, earned defensive MVP honors in the spring, taking advantage of the reps he got in Antoine Hopkins‘ injury absence. He had 19 tackles and two TFLs as a true freshman last year and should see plenty of playing time in the tackle rotation, where defensive coordinator Bud Foster wants to have more play-makers.
The depth at linebacker is crucial because starters Bruce Taylor (Lisfranc), Tariq Edwards (stress fracture) and Jeron Gouveia-Winslow (Lisfranc) are all coming off major injuries. Taylor and Gouveia-Winslow didn’t do any contact drills in the spring and Edwards sat out, although they’re all expected to be back for the start of the season.
Still, Tyler, Williams and Tweedy have showed their worth. Tyler, a 5-11, 230-pound junior, has filled in for Taylor after several injuries. He’s started five games now and made 67 tackles, including 8.5 TFLs. Williams, a 6-1, 224-pound sophomore, got his first dose of action in the spring, being very active in scrimmages. And Tweedy, a 6-2, 189-pound senior, gives the Hokies a real speed option at the whip linebacker spot when healthy.
On the offensive line, Via, a 6-7, 283-pound senior, is the only player other than center Andrew Miller with a college start. Knee surgery kept him out of the spring, although line coach Curt Newsome said he’ll have a role somewhere at tackle or guard. Meanwhile, Caleb Farris, a 6-3, 310-pound sophomore, emerged as the top backup at the guards spots in addition to being a reserve center.
Of the reserves, Maddy, Tweedy and Via might still snag starting spots during August camp. If not, they’ll be on the field quite a bit.
Foster likes to get his reserves prepared by telling them they’re only one play away from getting on the field. Certainly last year hammered that point home. Injuries happen in football. This year figures to be no different.
Coming Thursday: He played cornerback at Virginia Tech.
- No. 25: Randall Dunn, senior tight end
- No. 24: Donaldven Manning, freshman cornerback
- No. 23: Pick a punter
- No. 22: J.C. Coleman, freshman running back
- No. 21: Georgia Tech’s option offense
- No. 20: Antoine and Derrick Hopkins, defensive tackles
- No. 19: EJ Manuel, Florida State quarterback
- No. 18: Bud Foster, defensive coordinator
- No. 17: A fourth wide receiver
- No. 16: Cody Journell, junior kicker
- No. 15: Brent Benedict and David Wang, offensive guards
- No. 14: Dyrell Roberts, senior wide receiver
- No. 13: Detrick Bonner and Kyshoen Jarrett, safeties
- No. 12: Dabo Swinney, Clemson head coach