“I thought it was over,” the junior said. “But it turned out to be an overreaction.”
Forgive Wang for jumping to conclusions. The junior lost almost all of last year after breaking his right foot in the second game of the year at East Carolina, so naturally he figured it had happened again.
“I had no idea they had two carts out there,” he said. “I was sitting there and all I could hear was [trainer] Mike [Goforth] asking me if this hurt or that hurt and I just told him I couldn’t feel my foot. But the X-rays turned out negative, and that’s a sigh of relief.”
Wang didn’t play against Bowling Green because of what turned out to be a sprained ankle, but he has shown improvement this week. He’s still been in a blue, limited jersey but made significant strides from Monday to Tuesday.
“He’s better than he was yesterday. I was real concerned yesterday,” offensive line coach Curt Newsome said. “But he feels like he’ll make it by Saturday. We’ll see how those reps go tomorrow. He did a lot of work today. But it’s still iffy.”
Wang was hopeful it would be good by Thursday, generally the last day coaches give players to show that they can play in a given week.
The setback was a bummer for the 6-foot-2, 288-pound junior, who was just getting settled in his starting role after last season’s ordeal.
“I felt like I was getting better every week,” he said. “I know I have a ways to go, just being in the physical standpoint. And that’s apparent. I need to get more push off the ball. I felt like every week I was moving toward that. It sucks to get set back a little bit and miss a week or two.”
Here are a few more notes and quotes from post-practice interviews Tuesday …
- A late addition to these notes: the depth chart on Frank Beamer‘s personal website has Ronny Vandyke as the first-team whip linebacker and Jeron Gouveia-Winslow on the second team. It said it was updated Tuesday. “The only way he’s going to get better is we’ve got to get him on the field more in game situations,” Foster said about Vandyke on Monday. According to Beamer’s website, Vandyke had 24 plays against Bowling Green, with two tackles, one assist, two quarterback hurries and one pass breakup. Gouveia-Winslow had nine plays and one quarterback hurry.
- Running back Tony Gregory was in blue Tuesday, with a brace on his left knee, the one he’s had two ACL surgeries on in the last two years. He and running backs coach Shane Beamer said it was more precautionary that anything. It rained during practice Tuesday, so the wet field was a consideration. Plus, Gregory, who has had three ACL surgeries in his career (he had the right one operated in high school), was feeling some soreness in his left knee. “Tony’s got bad knees like me and is getting old,” Shane joked. “The changing weather, I guess, is affecting his bones.”
- I’ll have more on Gregory in a newspaper story Thursday, but Shane said he still expects Michael Holmes to start at tailback this week, with Gregory, Coleman and Scales serving as complementary options. “Michael is still starting,” Shane said. “We’ll keep going with that and expect Tony to be in there a bunch up there in D.C.”
- Shane is sticking with the four-back rotation, with anyone liable to pop up as a featured guy. It makes things more interesting. “Last year was probably less thinking,” he said. “Friday nights I wasn’t sitting around thinking who in the crap am I going to play tomorrow and in what order? Last year was easy. ‘David [Wilson], you’re going in the first two series. Josh [Oglesby], you go a series. David, you go two. Josh, you go one.’ This year there’s a little bit more about thinking about game situations and kind of thinking about down the line, OK, later in the game, how this guy might figure in. Things like that.”
- The players have bought into the rotation too, which makes it easier. “It’s a challenge, but it’s fun,” Shane said. “And can’t say enough about those guys either. I don’t think it would be like this with every team you’re playing for. There’s no selfishness at all. They’re all competitors, but never once has anyone complained. … I think all four of them are going to help us win a game individually at some point this year.”
- Linebacker Tariq Edwards was sick today and missed practice. I can’t imagine that will help him in his effort to contribute Saturday.
- Newsome said the plan last week was for Caleb Farris to come in for center Andrew Miller on Tech’s fourth series. “The fourth series came a little quicker than you’d wanted to because of the first three,” Newsome said. “But anyway, Caleb got in there and we moved the football down the field. It was good for him.” Tech did that with an eye on development. “The more guys you can get ready, the better off you’re going to be,” Newsome said.
- The Hokies started Michael Via at left guard just so Matt Arkema didn’t have to play the whole game in his biggest role to date. Newsome said he thinks Wang will be able to play some Saturday, so it’s unknown exactly how the guard rotation will shake out this week.
- Newsome thinks Cincinnati is a formidable challenge up front. The Bearcats led the nation in tackles for a loss last year and were second in sacks. This year, they’re fifth in sacks per game and tied for eighth nationally in TFLs. Seven different players have sacks and 14 have TFLs this season. “Just a hard-playing outfit,” Newsome said. “They’ve got a defensive end [Walter Stewart] that’s always in the backfield. He’s disrupted several plays. They are good across the board up front. So it’s going to be a real challenge. A lot of speed and still yet they’re physical in the run game.”
- I don’t have all the details about the cases for WR Josh Stanford and LB Deon Clarke‘s petition to get a redshirt for this season. Both have played — Stanford for 11 plays in one game and Clarke for 23 plays in three games — but Tech is seeking it for them anyway. It doesn’t appear to be injury-related. Both were out at practice today, neither in blue (although Stanford had a knee issue last week). It sounds like the Hokies’ compliance department will have to file something with the ACC, which then petitions the NCAA. A decision likely won’t come until after the year.