Defensive line coach Charley Wiles wasn’t about to say anything more regarding Corey Marshall taking a leave from the team than what Virginia Tech put out in a release earlier in the day. He has other players to prep.
“We’re repping the guys we’ve got and I’m pleased with the progress those guys are making,” Wiles said.
Marshall’s indeterminate absence puts the onus on four backups to step up their game to be ready to spell starters Derrick Hopkins and Luther Maddy on the interior. Wiles said true freshman Woody Baron is the top backup out of the group, with junior Kris Harley and redshirt freshmen Alston Smith and Nigel Williams behind him.
“They’re all doing some good things,” Wiles said. “But it’s really inconsistent. And I’ve told all of them that. …
“Three good plays and then we’re on the ground. We get cut. People are going to cut you when you’re attacking, getting up field on people. And Nigel I think was o-fer. I think he got cut five times in the scrimmage. So he’s got to stay on his feet.”
Baron, who greyshirted last fall and enrolled in January, has been the most consistent of the group.
“I wish he was a little more denting the line of scrimmage at the point of attack, but on his feet, very athletic,” Wiles said. “You notice Woody from a burst standpoint. He can go do some things out in open space.”
Harley, the veteran of the group, is hampered by a shoulder injury, something that dates back to last year. Wiles said it’s not coming out, but it’s moving, causing him discomfort. The redshirt sophomore had to leave Saturday’s scrimmage early because of it and was in a blue, limited jersey Monday night. Tech hopes if he can’t go in Wednesday’s scrimmage, he can in Saturday’s.
Ideally, Wiles wants that group of backups to steal 10-15 snaps a game, keeping Hopkins and Maddy in the 40-45-play range. When they’re in, he’d like to pair one of the younger guys with a veteran, so it’s not two youngsters in the game at once.
“It’s kind of backing up by committee with the rest of those guys a bit,” Wiles said. “Just want to make sure that we’re not taking any plays off because we’re tired. Know what I mean? We’re going to be real fresh and playing hard all the time.”
Here are a few more notes and quotes from Monday’s interviews with assistant coaches …
– You can tell the season is getting closer based on the brevity of offensive coordinator Scot Loeffler‘s responses.
What does he see at fullback? “Lots of ‘ors.’”
How is installation going? “I think we’re on track.”
Any concern about Logan Thomas‘ interceptions Saturday? “None whatsoever.”
How are the backup tight ends doing? “I don’t want to go there yet, if possible.”
Well, he’s easy to transcribe. I’ll say that.
Loeffler did say that Tech will begin Alabama prep at the end of this week.
– Loeffler’s impressions from Saturday’s scrimmage, now that he’s had time to look at the film?
“We wanted to be extremely basic,” he said. “We wanted to be able to see who played hard. Probably the most disturbing is we jumped offsides too many times, we turned over the ball. So the no-talent issues, in terms of taking care of the ball, penalties, that’s what we’re not pleased with at all.”
– Thomas had two picks Saturday. He said one was on a scrambling drill that cornerback Brandon Facyson made a nice diving catch on. Another was near the end zone, although he thought it would be wiped out by a defensive holding call. (The ref threw the flag and offense retained possession, but the play stood in the stats for whatever reason.)
What’d Loeffler see?
“Exactly what he said. To a T.”
– The Hokies are running out of running backs for the opener if J.C. Coleman (ankles) can’t make it back in time. Loeffler said Tech has a plan if Coleman can’t go. Does he think running back-turned-receiver-turned-running back Chris Mangus is ready?
“I don’t think we have any choice,” he said with a laugh.
– One of Loeffler’s biggest concerns for the opener is bringing a bunch of new guys into a setting like the Georgia Dome. He did so last year with Auburn when it lost to Clemson 26-19 in Atlanta to open the year.
“With a bunch of young players, just going into that dome alone, it’s loud, you’re on the road essentially for the first time,” he said. “I know it will be a neutral site, but it’s loud. And I experienced that last year. So the overall mechanics is what you worry about. People hearing calls, people communicating properly. That’s probably the A number 1 concern.”
– Loeffler said backup quarterback Mark Leal has had a “ridiculous” camp, in a good way. He doesn’t think the junior had a good showing Saturday, but other than that, he feels confident in Leal running the offense if he has to.
– I wrote about Wyatt Teller‘s move to offensive tackle earlier today and actually supplemented it with some quotes from offensive line coach Jeff Grimes for a story in Tuesday’s paper, but here’s what Grimes had to say about Teller’s potential to play this year: “Time will tell. It’s too early to say.”
– Grimes knows the drill. Before any reporter even asked a question today, he jokingly said, “No, I’m not ready to name a starting five.”
He did say that right guard Andrew Miller and center David Wang played the best in Saturday’s scrimmage. He also said tackle Laurence Gibson started out slow this August but has “really picked up the last couple of days.”
This was his assessment from the scrimmage: ““I thought our first group did OK. Some guys better than others, but I thought our first group did OK. Our protection for the most part with that first group was decent. First group didn’t get a lot of opportunities to run the ball. Bud [Foster's] playing man coverage and kind of putting you in a position where you need to throw it a little bit more. We had one series down there in the red zone where we ran it a little bit more and had some nice gains. But you’re so tight, you know, your safeties make plays. We didn’t have some of our first backs at that time. But I thought our first group did a decent job. Second and third group … [pause] … got a long way to go.”
– I asked receivers coach Aaron Moorehead if he could re-create his sideline tirade at the receivers from Saturday that drew a round of applause from the crowd on hand at Lane Stadium. He politely declined.
What prompted it?
“To be honest, watching the scrimmage from the sideline, you’re watching the inconsistency, you’re watching them do things that they hadn’t done in practice or over the course of the last week and a half, it’s frustrating to watch,” he said. “We’re not moving the ball offensively. And I just thought we needed a pickup as a group. And I really didn’t mean it to come out the way it came out, but I’m glad it did come out, because it got their attention. And it got them going and we started making plays. So I was fine with it.”
I plan to ask the receivers about it Tuesday to see what they thought. I’ll have more on it then hopefully.
– As for guys who stood out in the scrimmage, Moorehead praised Josh Stanford, who scored the day’s only touchdown on a 30-yard pass from Thomas.
“He went out there, played well and he graded out well and he caught the ball when we threw it to him,” Moorehead said. “He had a couple things that you want to tweak here and there, but for a young guy just having a couple things is not the worst thing in the world, especially in a scrimmage. And that’s stuff that he’ll get corrected.”
– ODU is thinking about building a new, on-campus, 30,000-seat football stadium to replace Foreman Field. The Pilot’s Harry Minium has the details here. It would be designed so it could be expanded to 45,000 with future add-ons.
The hope is that it’s done by 2017. The Hokies are scheduled to travel there as part of a 2-for-1 deal in 2018.