Virginia Tech James Gayle isn’t shy about going up against good competition, so if Virginia right tackle Morgan Moses can’t play this week because of a lower leg injury, the Hokies’ defensive end wouldn’t mind pairing up with the Cavaliers’ All-ACC right tackle Oday Aboushi.
“I’m hoping they move 72 to the other side, because that’s the guy I want to go against if Morgan doesn’t play,” Gayle said. “He’s just somebody I’d like to beat, to be honest.”
Gayle had three tackles for a loss last year against Virginia, including two sacks on Moses, a fact he enjoyed reminding the right tackle of a few months later on signing day with a Twitter barb.
“Morgan’s my boy,” Gayle said of the playful back and forth. “I played with him in the [high school] all-star game. But it’s fun.”
It comes with the territory in rivalry games, where so many players know each other from high school and the recruiting process.
“We obviously know them a little more. We’re closer to them,” linebacker Jack Tyler said. “We know them from high school like I said. Because of that there’s a little more communication, but I wouldn’t say there’s as much smack talk, per se. If anything it could be more friendly just because you know them a little more.”
Is it really that friendly?
“I wouldn’t say that,” Gayle deadpanned.
Linebacker Bruce Taylor thinks the banter is all in good fun. Both teams know what they’re playing for.
“They do a lot of trash talking and all that stuff, but at the end of the day, those guys, they mean well,” he said. “They play hard. And you have to respect who play the game the right way. They do a little extra jawing sometimes, but hey, that’s part of the game. We’ve just got to keep our heads level and do our talking with our pads.”
“When it gets down to it both teams want to win,” Tyler said. “Both teams are going to do whatever it takes to win. Sometimes things get a little physical. I’ve always said, even though you’re playing your friends on the field, it doesn’t matter, you’re on the opposite team and there’s going to be blood shed. It’s one of those games that we all come here to play and it’s going to be fun.”
Here are some more notes and quotes from defensive post-practice interviews Thursday …
- Trying to get audio of what Virginia Tech athletic director Jim Weaver said on Tech Talk Live tonight about the conference realignment. He was on air when interviews were taking place, so I didn’t have a chance to hear it. He declined comment to an inquiry about it Monday but, based on a few tweets from people who listened, made it sound like the Hokies may potentially have interest in suitors from another conference. (UPDATE: sounds like his quote was taken out of context based on what David Teel of the Daily Press tweeted after getting a hold of Weaver late Tuesday night.)
- Aboushi, apparently, has a reputation for being nasty. Gayle said he does some stuff after the whistle. “But it’s football, so you can’t blame him,” he said. “I do a little extra stuff too, so …”
- How important is this game? “It means a lot, because that’s probably a team that I don’t want to lose to the most,” Gayle said.
- Speaking of trash talk, even if indirect, defensive coordinator Bud Foster let this gem go tonight when asked what the eight-year winning streak against UVa meant: “Eight? I thought it was nine. Ehhh, I lose track.”
- He followed it up later with this, though: “It’s going to be a tough football game. I respect their program. Since I’ve been here, in the 26 years, they’ve been a top quality football program, a top quality team and we’ve got to go play extremely well to win the football game.”
- Foster doesn’t think the Cavaliers did too much different with their offense when they have Mike Rocco or Phillip Sims in the game at quarterback. “It seems like to me Rocco is a little more disciplined from the standpoint of he’s throwing checkdowns and things of that nature,” Foster said. “I think Sims is a guy, he throws it down the field maybe a little bit more, in my opinion from what I’ve seen. But they’re not running anything different. They’re both similar athletically. They run their offense.”
- I’m writing more on this for Thursday’s paper, but Virginia Tech’s pass rush has really gotten going the last few weeks. A lot of it has to do with the sheer number of blitzes the Hokies are sending. Foster said part of it is the type of offense Tech has been going against the last few weeks. “We haven’t seen a decide offense in the last three or four weeks,” he said. “All that kind of stuff, that makes a difference in what you do, I think. … It’s a lot easier when it’s third-and-long as opposed to third-and-four where you’re playing against a decide team that can run it, throw it, do whatever. Run that offense like a Clemson or somebody where you don’t know what they’re going to do on a third-and-five. Whereas the teams we’ve played the last couple weeks, third-and-five, they’re throwing the football. With that personnel grouping you know what you’re going to get.”
- Virginia, Foster said, is a pro-style offense that will run it when you think it will throw it and throw it when you think they’ll run it. That’s why the Hokies brought a lot of pressures in last year’s 38-0 win in Charlottesville. “You got to roll the dice a little bit,” he said. ‘Last year we happened to roll sevens and played a great football game all the way around.”
- Foster does not think cornerback Donaldven Manning, who was at practice Tuesday, will play this weekend. The freshman’s status with the team was up in the air last week before he decided to stick around. He’d like to see him “get back to the guy I saw in the spring, he kind of reverted back. I don’t know if it’s girlfriend. Who knows man? Those guys, when you’re 18 years old, your mind, things can go out of whack for you. But I liked how he practiced today. I noticed him doing some good things today. I think he’s got a great future for us. He just needs to grow up and mature and that’s part of it right now. He’s not the first one and not going to be the last one.”
- On the injury front, safety Michael Cole won’t play this week. Trainer Mike Goforth said redshirt freshman still doesn’t have full mobility in his neck from side to side. Tech wouldn’t put him in danger by having him on the field in that state. Cole didn’t practice Tuesday. Receiver Kevin Asante was in a green, non-contact jersey with turf toe.
- Considering Tech has won eight straight and 12 of the last 13, Taylor thinks the Hokies have to guard against overconfidence. “I feel like guys kind of have that in the back of their mind, especially when they have the Commonwealth Cup [in the locker room] with the paper that says how many days we’ve held it, which is a long, long time,” Taylor said. ‘So I feel like some guys kind of look at that stuff and say, ‘All right, we’re going to take care of this,’ but I’m trying to do a good job of being a leader and making sure guys don’t do that, because that’s how you get embarrassed.”