The receivers coach said it wasn’t intentional and doesn’t anticipate it happening again, but it might have gotten a point across nonetheless.
“It’s going to be something that moving forward is better for him to understand that, whether or not you’re going to go into a game plan, … we don’t need you,” Moorehead said. “We want to have you. But we don’t need you.
“And that’s something that’s an awakening for every athlete. When all of a sudden, it’s, ‘Oh my god. They’ll go on without me.’ That’ll get you in gear real quick. And I think that was good.”
It might have already lit a fire under Coles. Moorehead and quarterback Logan Thomas said the senior practiced harder Tuesday.
“He made a big step,” Thomas said. “He kind of made up his mind that he was going to go do it and that’s what we need out of him. … I think he was just sulking last week. But this week, he’s ready to go, ready to roll.”
“He went out there [Tuesday] with a purpose,” Moorehead said. “And there’s a difference now between practicing hard and practicing hard with a purpose. And that’s what I think he did. And I think that anytime you’re a senior and you go out and play just a handful of plays in a game, it’s going to open your eyes a little bit to what could potentially be going on. And I think he took it upon himself to say, ‘Know what, that’s not going to happen again.’ And he practiced like it.”
Coles, who had a rough opener against Alabama, cutting short a few routes that proved costly, only played a handful of snaps against Western Carolina. He didn’t get into the game until the second quarter. Once he was in, he promptly caught a 19-yard touchdown pass.
But he didn’t play much else, watching as Demitri Knowles, Josh Stanford and Willie Byrn got most of the snaps at receiver.
Head coach Frank Beamer said part of that has to do with Coles’ surgically-repaired knee. He wants the senior to be able to go “full-tilt” on every play, something he probably can’t do on a full-time basis. Moorehead noted that, despite what the depth chart has said, Stanford has been the starter over Coles since the start of training camp.
“Whatever plays we give [Coles], he needs to be able to play those plays 100 percent,” Moorehead said. “And if he’s getting to the point where he can’t handle playing 40 plays a game, then we’re stupid for putting him in for 40 plays a game. And if it’s 30, it’s 30. And if it’s 20, it’s 20. But that’s just going to be his role. And he’s willing to do whatever it is we’re asking him to do.”
Coles sounds fine with whatever role the coaches have for him.
“As long as we’re coming out with W’s, that’s fine with me,” he said. “Winning is the ultimate goal of the team. So that’s what we look forward too. … I just go out there and whenever they call my number, I’m ready to make plays. So they pick and choose and however many snaps I get, I’ll go out there and make plays.”
This might be the new normal. After throwing to mostly Coles and Knowles in the opener, Tech diversified its passing attack against the Catamounts. Ten different players caught passes last week, including four receivers. That doesn’t include Charley Meyer, who the Hokies are working back from a hamstring injury, and Carlis Parker, a raw freshman who has good speed but it still picking up the position.
Moorehead said when he was at Stanford, the Cardinal used six receivers each week, all with different roles in the running and passing game.
“I like having multiple guys,” he said. “It keeps the room involved, it keeps everyone excited. When only two or three guys are playing, you tend to lose the other guys in the room because they’re not paying attention as much. When you get six guys, and each guy knows he has a specific role, it keeps the room fresh and it keeps the competition open, because guys know if you’re not going to do it, someone else will.”