I’m still sifting through media day quotes that were overshadowed by news of attrition early in the afternoon. I’ll have something up of the more pertinent things people said during media day in a blog post sometime Sunday.
In the meantime, here are five observations from Saturday night’s practice/scrimmage:
1. Virginia Tech’s third-stringers will not be beating Alabama.
I know, I know. Strong take.
The Hokies had a 36-play scrimmage at the end of practice that involved just the youngsters. It went just about as you’d imagine. A lot of sloppiness from a bunch of guys who probably aren’t going to play this year. Although that’s to be expected.
“I’ll say this: defensively we got out good,” head coach Frank Beamer said. “But earlier in the year it’s always easier to play defense than it is offense. Just fly around, go to the football.”
Only a few plays stood out in the brief scrimmage. Quarterback Brenden Motley hooked up with freshman receiver David Prince on a 49-yard deep ball.
Defensive end Seth Dooley had a pair of sacks. Alston Smith had 1.5 sacks.
Running back-turned-receiver Chris Mangus showed off some nice juke moves on one play. Receiver-turned-running back Joel Caleb got a lot of work but ran for just four yards on nine carries.
2. The o-line remains unsettled.
Offensive line coach Jeff Grimes won’t bite when it comes to narrowing down his possible starting lineup. That’s probably because he legitimately is still trying to sort things out.
Aside from right guard Andrew Miller, every spot is still fairly open right now, especially the tackles, where no player seems to be ahead of another. Asked if he’s had this much uncertainty on a line before, Grimes paused to think it over for a second.
“Umm … I don’t know,” he said. “I’ve coached a bunch of lines. This is my 21st or 22nd year coaching and I’ve certainly had uncertainty at times. Yeah. I’m sure I’ve had a couple times similar to this, but this would certainly rank toward the top. But that’s to a certain extent to be expected when it’s new, when it’s a new offense and I’m new and we don’t have a lot of experience coming back. It’s not all that unusual.”
Has anyone seized a starting job yet?
“I’m waiting,” Grimes said. “I’m waiting to see if someone does. I’ll feel a lot better. Haven’t seen that yet.”
Grimes said he’d certainly like to have a starting five set by the start of game week at the latest, although he noted that even then he’s still had shuffling going on that close to the season.
“I’d like to see it sooner rather than later, but we’ll let it play out,” he said.
The first-team offensive line Saturday night was, from right to left, Augie Conte, Miller, David Wang, Caleb Farris, Mark Shuman. That’s the sixth different lineup Grimes has used in six days or practice.
3. The receivers have to work on catching the ball.
A couple things were clear of the receivers: They look like they have the ability to get open. They also look like they have trouble catching the ball.
How much trouble? Well, the team does pushups as a punishment for drops. Demitri Knowles says the receivers as a group did 90 of them post-practice Saturday night. We don’t know the exact conversion rate, but that’s a significant number.
One receiver who did look like he could do some things is freshman Carlis Parker, who was recruited as an athlete and gave up any attempt at playing quarterback in the spring. Now he’s a second-team wide receiver, sharing a spot on the depth chart with Josh Stanford. He showed plenty of speed but is still unpolished as a route runner.
“I think he’ll really get better,” Beamer said. “He’s such a good kid, wants to. I think he’ll make big strides here. And each practice he seems to get a little bit better.”
Parker, who played some wide receiver in high school, said the biggest thing is just getting a feel for the position again.
“In high school I played a little receiver, but it wasn’t any routes that I had to particularly work on, like dig routes and stuff that we do,” Parker said. “It was just go routes, give a defender a little quick move and go. I would say that’s my biggest transition right now.”
4. With regards to the attrition, Beamer didn’t have a whole lot to say.
“Some of them is injury-wise, some of them was getting on with their school and some of them was just giving up football,” Beamer said. “It’s kind of a mixed bag in there.”
Cornerback Donaldven Manning is mulling his future with the program. Asked if it was playing time-related, Beamer declined comment and simply said he’s talk to him again Sunday to decide his future.
5. Whip linebacker Ronny Vandyke’s shoulder injury might be something to watch.
The sophomore suffered a shoulder injury that required him to wrap it with an ice pack late in practice. He was in a sling later in the night. Beamer said it’s something that head athletic trainer Mike Goforth ”is a little bit concerned about,” adding, “It might be a little time on that one.”
UPDATE: Vandyke tweeted Saturday night that he dislocated his right shoulder.
@JordanLong_4 I dislocated my right shoulder— Ronny Vandyke (@vandyke37) August 11, 2013
Other injury notes: CB Antone Exum was in a green, no-contact jersey and just did some light sprints at practice. LB Tariq Edwards didn’t dress, a planned day off for the senior, who missed almost all of last year with a leg injury. RB Tony Gregory also didn’t dress. He’s had a history of injury problems.
WR Charley Meyer was dressed but sat out with a hamstring issue.
Two real quick thoughts: Logan Thomas certainly threw a couple pretty deep balls. They didn’t always connect, but he lofted them up well enough to give the receiver a chance to get under it.
Also, A.J. Hughes was booming his punts. Looks like he picked up where he left off in the Russell Athletic Bowl.
Here are a few stats taken from Virginia Tech’s post-practice report:
Passing: Motley 2-4 60 yards; Brian Rody 4-7 22 yards; Bucky Hodges 3-5 14 yards.
Rushing: Caleb 9 carries, 4 yards.
Receiving: Prince 2 catches, 55 yards; Mangus 2 catches, 13 yards, Deon Newsome 2 catches; Parker, Austin Jones, Sam Rogers 1 catch each.
Defensive: Dooley 2 sacks, Smith 1.5 sacks.