No stranger to season openers, Hokies defensive coordinator Bud Foster has a good idea of what to expect from his group. But there’s still a level of concern about the backup tackles, where a pair of freshmen, Woody Baron and Nigel Williams, will be the first off the bench.
“I hope that they’re not going to have big eyes and pee down their legs so to speak,” Foster said.
It’s only a few more days until Virginia Tech will find out for sure, taking on No. 1 Alabama in the Georgia Dome. Wednesday was one of the final full-scale practice the Hokies will have and the last time Foster and offensive coordinator Scot Loeffler met with the media before the opener.
Naturally, neither offered too much in the way of details about the game plan.
“That’s a great question for coach Beamer,” Loeffler said to several queries.
Loeffler did say that to beat Alabama, you have to do what they do, only better. That includes playing great defense, taking care of the football, running the ball and starting drives in good spots.
“I think field position is going to be crucial in this game,” he said. “That’s one of the best defenses in the country. To ask to consistently drive the ball 80 yards versus them, no one’s done that. We have to be really smart. We have to play field position and obviously protect the ball.”
Foster, who reiterated that this game won’t make or break Tech’s season, has a list of things he’d like to see from his group to consider Saturday a success.
“I’d like to see us play with an attitude,” he said. “I’d like to see us play consistently well. Control the line of scrimmage. Because I think if we’re going to be the type of defense that we’re going to be, we need to do that. … We’ve just got to be relentless in our pursuits. We’ve just got to be consistently good in all aspects — in our run fits, in our coverage game — like we were at the end of the year. So we’ll see.”
Here are a few more notes and quotes from Wednesday …
– On the injury front, safety Kyshoen Jarrett (hamstring) was out of the blue jersey and back doing full work with the first-team defense. Foster sounded confident he would be fully healthy for Alabama.
Running back J.C. Coleman (ankle) remained in a blue, limited jersey. Tech should have a full injury report Thursday.
– Count Loeffler in the camp heaping praise on Alabama. As part of Auburn’s staff last year, he got a dose of the Crimson Tide in the regular season finale, suffering a 49-0 beatdown.
“I’ve played some great teams, I’ve played national championship teams, and that team last year might have been the best team I’ve played against, hands down,” he said.
Is he sick of them?
“No. I respect them,” Loeffler said. “And it’ll be great for our kids. Our kids will get to go out and compete against the best and it’ll be good. It’ll be a good game for Virginia Tech.”
– Foster likened this current run of Alabama teams to the ones at Southern California in the mid-2000′s.
“They might have the best 85 [scholarship players] in the country right now,” he said. “They kind of remind me of USC a few years ago. You get a group of teams that kind of rotate around, it seems like. They were a sleeping giant and Nick [Saban] kind of woke them up.”
– Loeffler was asked about if there are any jitters going into his first game with his new school.
“I think this place is a really special place,” he said. “And the obligation and the responsibility to make things right, you want that for coach Beamer and this program. To answer your question, there’s always pressure. The more you prep, the less pressure there is. You do feel, just because of how special coach Beamer is and how special this place is, you feel obligated to make sure you do a good job for him and this program.”
– Foster said linebacker Tariq Edwards, who is coming off a lost year with a leg/knee injury, has been solid, although he had to be held out of a recent scrimmage because of a shoulder injury.
“He knows his assignments, things of that nature,” Foster said. “I just hope his timing is there from a tackling standpoint. That’s really one thing that he didn’t have to do the last two scrimmages. … Hopefully experience will take over a little bit.”
– With Ronny Vandyke out for the year with a shoulder injury, Foster made it sound like he doesn’t expect replacements Josh Trimble and Derek DiNardo to be Supermen on the field. But he hopes they’ll be dependable.
“If they do special things, that’ll be great, but they need to play for us,” he said. “They’re not dynamic guys. It’s not like you’re going to see an [Alonzo] Tweedy or a James Anderson or a Cody Grimm out there, but I think you’re going to see a solid, dependable guy. And they’ve just got to play for us and do their job and be good tacklers in space. So I think they can do that.”
– Here’s your 437th scoreboard update of the summer. “Home of the Hokies” is up. There’s plenty of blank canvas up there to do something else. Twitter follower Sammy Eanes sent this reminder of what the original specs called for the back of the board to look like.
– Virginia Tech also tweeted out a picture of the helmets that the Hokies will be wearing Saturday. This much we know: it’ll be maroon. It looks like a fairly normal logo on the side too. No official word yet, that I’ve seen, about what uniform Tech will wear. That usually comes out Thursday or Friday. We’ll see.
– Quick housekeeping note: I’ll be doing a live chat Thursday at 12:30 p.m. I’ll have a link up in the morning. I’m confident that the technical issues from the last chat will be fixed.