The ACC Kickoff (aka media days) is fast approaching, something we media members consider the unofficial start of the football season. That’s not until July 21, however. In the meantime, it’s as good a time as any to start taking a closer look at Virginia Tech.
This isn’t a list of the 25 best players on the Hokies’ roster. It’s a list of 25 things/people/ideas that will determine whether Virginia Tech’s 2013 season is a success or not. Next up is …
No. 4: J.C. Coleman and Trey Edmunds, running backs
Coming out of the spring, it seemed like the Hokies were no closer to naming a No. 1 running back than they were for most of last year. Coleman, Edmunds and Michael Holmes all looked like they could have been The Guy in some form or fashion.
Things got cleared up unintentionally with Holmes’ arrest and eventual dismissal from school by a student conduct committee, so barring some unforeseen circumstance it’s likely that Coleman and Edmunds will be doing the heavy lifting at tailback this year (although Tony Gregory, if healthy, could factor in as well).
That’s both cause for concern and reason for encouragement.
It’s been well-documented how much the Hokies struggled to run the ball last year. Quarterback Logan Thomas was the team’s leading rusher. Coleman led the backs with 492 yards, the fewest for a lead Virginia Tech tailback since Terry Smoot ran for only 356 yards in 1967.
While Coleman and Edmunds are young — Coleman has played one year; Edmunds redshirted — they both bring something to the table that would suggest Virginia Tech won’t be seeing such low rushing totals out of its backs again this year.
Coleman is a quick, play-making back when he can get the ball in space. Witness his showing against Duke, when he had two long touchdown runs while basically untouched. Running the ball between the tackles is less his forte, however — that’s not a slight; it’s just physics — although he appears to be a little bigger this year, up around 185 pounds heading into camp.
Still, that’s not quite the size you want from a workhorse back. That’s where the 6-foot-1, 215-pound Edmunds comes into play. He’s a bigger back more capable of that physical brand of running. Even though nobody showed much at the spring game, Edmunds at least broke off a 40-yard run that was called back for a hold. The potential is there.
Many will say, how is this any different than last year? And I’ll concede: it’s not. But with Coleman a year older and Edmunds showing a skill set that has the coaches very excited (and probably with a higher ceiling than Holmes and more well-rounded than last year’s power back, Martin Scales), I’d say there’s greater potential out of this year’s group.
Granted, so much of that depends on blocking and having an offensive scheme that recognizes how to put its running backs in situations to succeed. But sometimes getting yards is on the running back. Darren Evans could make something out of nothing. Ryan Williams could as well. David Wilson too.
Time will tell if Coleman and Edmunds are up to that task.
Coming Thursday: He’s a big dog person.
- No. 25: Ryan Malleck, tight end
- No. 24: Defensive subs
- No. 23: Andrew Miller, center
- No. 22: BeamerBall
- No. 21: Ronny Vandyke, whip linebacker
- No. 20: D.J. Coles, wide receiver
- No. 19: Cody Journell kicker
- No. 18: Tariq Edwards, inside linebacker
- No. 17: Detrick Bonner and Kyshoen Jarrett, safeties
- No. 16: A.J. Hughes, punter
- No. 15: J.R. Collins and Dadi Nicolas, defensive ends
- No. 14: Demitri Knowles and Josh Stanford, wide receivers
- No. 13: Kyle Fuller, cornerback
- No. 12: Derrick Hopkins and Luther Maddy, defensive tackles
- No. 11: Young cornerbacks
- No. 10: Jack Tyler, inside linebacker
- No. 9: Bud Foster, defensive coordinator
- No. 8: Laurence Gibson and Jonathan McLaughlin, offensive tackles
- No. 7: Antone Exum’s right knee
- No. 6: Frank Beamer, head coach
- No. 5: James Gayle, defensive end