WARNING: Video may contain some objectionable language. Please watch on mute if practice field talk offends you.
On Tuesday, some members of the weight training staff gauged Trey Edmunds‘ eagerness to step into Virginia Tech’s Bull in the Ring/Oklahoma-like drill to start practice.
“I told them I was ready for it,” he said. “No matter who they put me against, I was ready.”
At about 3 o’clock Wednesday, Edmunds saw his matchup posted outside the locker room. He’d be taking on linebacker Deon Clarke, another member of the 2012 signing class who is roughly his size.
“Then I saw him. He was in the locker room smiling,” Edmunds said. “We went back and forth talking junk between each other. And just from there, our energies just went up. And that went on to how we practice. We both just had an outstanding practice, I think.”
That appears to be the Hokies’ goal with the drill they call T-Time or, as coach Frank Beamer described it, Tech’s Toughness Time (a naming process that kind of sounded like this). It’s something of a hybrid between the Oklahoma Drill and the Bull in the Ring, and it’s the first thing the Hokies do at practice after stretching.
Two players line up across from one another, explode off a snap and try to push the other out of a ring. Shane Beamer did it some with the running backs last year. Offensive coordinator Scot Loeffler did it some with Urban Meyer at Florida and later with offensive line coach Jeff Grimes at Auburn.
“We’re trying to make our unit be as enthusiastic and together and as tough as we possibly can,” Loeffler said. “Enthusiasm is contagious.”
“I think it’s a good thing to start out practice and there’s a clear winner and loser,” Grimes said. “And every day we kind of look at the matchups and there are people that we put in who we want to see how they rise to the occasion or fall. It’s a great chance to just see how a guy’s going to compete when the entire team is watching him.”
The drill started Monday. Offensive tackle Mark Shuman got called up first to square off with defensive end Ken Ekanem. Ekanem got the win.
“It’s exciting,” Shuman said. “You want to win. It’s a competitive nature out there. So every time you get called out like that, you want to win, show that you have the toughness to thrive in a drill like that.”
Edmunds got the better of Clark on Wednesday, but he was used to the drill, having matched up with and held his own against Martin Scales with the running backs last year. (“I’m telling you … phew. Scales was a horse,” Edmunds said.) He noted that players don’t get much more excited at practice than during that brief drill near the beginning.
“We’ve been getting at it,” Edmunds said. “The defense has been getting at it. The offense has been getting at it. The coaches have been getting at it. So I mean, we’re just making practice fun, and when it’s fun, it’s always easier to learn. I think that’s the best way to do it.”
It fits in with Tech’s new outlook this spring.
“I think the whole morale now is just more excited,” Shuman said. “It’s a clean slate for us. Last year didn’t go as planned, but it’s a clean slate. We start out with Alabama, so we’re just trying to practice like a championship team right now.”
I’ll have a little bit more from post-practice interviews later this week, but first a few quick-hitters …
– Beamer was asked if the emphasis on toughness this spring was because he thought there was a lack of toughness last year. “Naw, I think we had tough kids,” he said. “We just didn’t always play tough, mentally and physically, for whatever reason. I just think it’s always been part of the program here, and I think the more you emphasize it, the more you get what you want. So I think the kids want that too.”
– Shuman has flipped over to right tackle and Laurence Gibson to left tackle the past few practices. It’s just Grimes trying to get a sense of what he has on the line. “I want to see who can do different things,” he said. “I’m not smart enough as a coach to just kind of guess and figure it out based on a guy. I’ve got to see him do some different things and see where guys play best. Then you’ve got to look at the matchups too. Who’s going to be playing next to which guard? So there are a lot of different factors that come into play.” He said he doesn’t have a timetable for settling things out. He might mix and match all spring.
– Left guard David Wang was in a blue, limited contact jersey for an unspecified reason Wednesday. Caleb Farris took his spot with the first team.
– Cornerback Donaldven Manning has packed on about 20 pounds since the start of last season, going 155 to around 174 right now. How? By using a creatine product and eating five meals a day. “After the bowl game … [my family] forced me to eat five meals a day, which helped me to gain weight,” he said. “So I just continued to eat and rest my body, and the weight began to come on fast, because I wasn’t running or doing too much active stuff. I mean, I kept it simple workouts, like one-on-ones, but it didn’t provide much sweat. So my body was absorbing most of the food and I got bigger.” Manning said he had about two to two and a half hours between meals.
– Tech had its first real scrimmage setting at practice this spring Wednesday, running about 45 plays. The Hokies will have a bigger scrimmage at Lane Stadium that’s open to the public Saturday at 2:45 p.m. “[Today] kind of got our feet in the water and tested the waters a little bit,” Edmunds said. “But we’re very excited. The offense is, the defense is. We can’t wait to get after it Saturday.”
– Also, I’m in the nicknaming business. And once it gets out there, the Internet runs with it.