The Hokies were equally secretive in Wednesday’s scrimmage. Shortly after that workout, Tech removed a highlight video from the team website not long after it was posted.
“Our game plan versus Alabama shouldn’t be a public thing right now,” head coach Frank Beamer said. “So that’s where we are. … I think you need to try to use every advantage you’ve got.”
That extra secrecy coincides with the Hokies transition from training camp to full preparation mode for their season opener against No. 1 Alabama on Aug. 31 in the Georgia Dome.
It’s been a theme lately, particularly on offense, where the number words in many of new coordinator Scot Loeffler‘s post-practice interview answers can be counted on one hand. Although the Crimson Tide has some familiarity with what Loeffler will try to do based on his time at Auburn last year, not everything Tech has planned is known.
“I think you do have an advantage early on when an opponent hasn’t had an opportunity to see what you’ve been working on,” said offensive line coach Jeff Grimes, who also coached at Auburn last year. “You know obviously Alabama knows certain things about us, but the rest of it is probably best left unsaid at this point.”
The team stats told some of the story of what happened in the stadium, where the Hokies did two quarters’ worth of work, trying to finalize their travel squad.
Tech scored three touchdowns on passes, throwing for 191 yards in the 50-play scrimmage, but the running game left a lot to be desired. The Hokies had negative 16 rushing yards, set back by five sacks for 41 yards in losses. Take that yardage away and Tech still ran the ball 23 times for 25 yards. In all, the Hokies averaged only 3.5 yards per offensive play.
“Overall, you’ve got some breakdowns,” Beamer said. “But I think it’s one of those things that you learn from and you go get ready to play Alabama and see where we are as a football team. That’s what I say every year about this time, but that’s what it is.”
Here are a few more notes and quotes from Saturday …
– In addition to receiver Willie Byrn and linebacker Derek DiNardo, Beamer confirmed that receiver Charley Meyer and linebacker Josh Trimble were put on scholarship recently. Another player, starting fullback Sam Rogers, will probably get his come January.
“I think that’s one thing that we really talk about and emphasize, is really evaluate walk-on guys,” Beamer said. “You want to get a guy walking on that you think is going to have a chance to earn a scholarship if he got a little stronger or got a little faster or got a little heavier or whatever it is, would have a chance to earn a scholarship.
“But then the second part of it is I think you’ve got to reward those guys when they do. We tell them when they figure in to playing, we’re going to get them on scholarship as soon as we possibly can, at the next opportunity when we have one.”
“I feel like walk-ons sort of always have that small chip on their shoulder,” linebacker Jack Tyler said. “We all have the same background story. We were too slow, too small, too something. And that’s why we didn’t get recruited. It’s always that little bit that we feel like we’re as good as everybody else but maybe we just didn’t fit in right away. I think that’s why walk-ons are so successful, because we kind of play with that chip on our shoulder. Nothing was handed to us. And we do a good job of finding those guys here.”
– Virginia Tech has altered its practice schedule this year. The Hokies will do a review practice Sunday and give players Monday off while the coaches are game planning. They’re back on the field Tuesday. In past years, Tech has had Sunday off and did review work early on Mondays.
“I think the pluses about it are you get the game behind you on Sunday,” Beamer said. “Sometimes what happens Monday is you game plan in the morning, then all of a sudden 2 o’clock you’ve got a staff meeting and 3 o’clock a team meeting, then a practice. So I think to have the full day where it’s not interrupted, I think that’s better.”
“The nice thing is you get that previous game put to bed and then you move forward and then players will come by on their own,” Grimes said. “Even if it’s their day off, they’ll be coming on their own, watching film and kind of get a jump start on that.”
Beamer said Mack Brown does this at Texas. Many SEC schools do it this way. A reporter mentioned that Mike London also does it at Virginia.
“Then we won’t do it then,” Beamer joked.
– All told, Beamer said he thinks 10 true freshmen and 17 redshirt freshmen will be on the travel squad for Alabama. “That’s a lot of guys who have never been in a game and certainly have never been across from a team like Alabama,” he said. “But we’ve got to start somewhere and see where we are and then build from there.”
– Although there were no individual stats from the scrimmage, Beamer said receiver D.J. Coles looked like his knee wasn’t affecting him much.
“I thought D.J. Coles looked like his old self, about the first time I’ve seen him where I thought he’s looked like a guy that catch it and juke,” Beamer said. “He was playing at a very high level for us before we got hurt.”
– Grimes named a starting five offensive line earlier today. That group, from left to right, is Jonathan McLaughlin, Caleb Farris, David Wang, Andrew Miller and Laurence Gibson.
“They’ve just performed the best over time,” Grimes said.
Brent Benedict, a guard, is someone Grimes said has been in the mix and he think “will figure in and help us in a significant role this year.”
I’ll have more on what Grimes said about the offensive line in tomorrow’s paper.
– McLaughlin, as has been mentioned before, is the first true freshman offensive lineman to start for the Hokies since Sergio Render in 2006. Beamer hasn’t a true freshman tackle begin the season as a starter in his time at Tech. Does that make him nervous?
“Feel nervous,” he said. “But again, that’s kind of where we’re [at]. He’s got toughness, got a lot of want-to. He’ll continue to get better. But he is a freshman. And going up against some defensive linemen that are pretty good. Not only pretty good, but real good.
“But again, we get our starting point. I think when you’re young, you’re at least eager. So we’ve got an eager crowd.”