Frank Beamer is backing Cody Journell again.
Virginia Tech’s head coach said Journell will return from a one-game suspension for an unspecified violation of team rules to kick in the Hokies’ game at Georgia Tech on Thursday.
“He’s made some mistakes, but he’s certainly a good kicker and a good kid and [comes from a] good family,” Beamer said.
The senior from Ripplemead has faced disciplinary measures before. He had a very public arrest with two others in December of 2011 on a breaking and entering charge that, according to court testimony, was about stolen marijuana.
The charge was later plead down to misdemeanor trespassing. He was required to do 100 hours of community service and rejoined the team in the summer after a seven-month suspension, missing only the Sugar Bowl.
Asked about Journell’s history and whether that gave him pause about allowing the senior to stay on the team, Beamer declined comment.
“I made that statement after the game Saturday and that’s all I’m saying about Cody,” Beamer said.
The statement following the Marshall game only said that Journell had been suspended for a game for an unspecified violation of team rules.
Journell has on-the-field issues to work out, though. He’s coming off his worst game as a collegian, when he missed an extra point and two field goals against East Carolina, with another miss negated by a penalty. Journell said something was off with his plant foot in that game and that he might have overcorrected on subsequent kicks, leading to more struggles.
He’s still made 36 of 46 career field goals, a 78.6 percent clip. Only four of those misses have been from closer than 40 yards.
“As far as his ability kicking, he’s solid,” Beamer said. “Got the same flight every time. Made some big kicks. I think that’s a good kicker for us.”
Journell’s replacement, junior walk-on punter Ethan Keyserling, missed all three of his field goal attempts in rainy weather against Marshall. Other than Journell, the Hokies don’t have a kicker on the roster who has made a field goal in a college game.
Here are a few more notes and quotes from Monday’s presser:
– First, a scheduling note: Virginia Tech’s Oct. 5 game at Lane Stadium against North Carolina will be a 12:30 p.m. kickoff. It will be televised by the ACC Network, which means a regional channel listing.
– With a short week of preparation, Virginia Tech has a condensed practice schedule. Beamer said the coaching staff graded film after Saturday’s game, something it doesn’t normally do until Sunday on regular weeks. Everything else gets moved up as well.
“Today is Tuesday,” Beamer said. “You guys may not realize it, but it’s really Tuesday as far as our practice preparation goes. It’s packing a lot of stuff in a short period of time, and the only time you see this offense this year.”
Tech has used part of Sunday practices in recent weeks to start preparing for Georgia Tech’s option offense, something it hasn’t done in the past. Last season, it had an entire offseason before it played the Yellow Jackets in the Labor Day opener. Other years, it has had a bye week.
Safety T.J. Shaw, who ran the option at Franklin County High, will be the scout team quarterback for the fourth straight year leading up to the Georgia Tech game. The Yellow Jackets are such a familiar foe that some Hokies are used to playing the option.
“It’s not a tough adjustment because most guys have been doing this for a long time,” defensive tackle Derrick Hopkins said. “So it’s like second nature, kind of. We know to expect, what we go to do. It’s kind of second nature. It’s been four years for most of us.”
– Cornerback Kyle Fuller has had success playing the whip linebacker role against Georgia Tech in the past. He said it’s possible he could play there Thursday. That’d leave freshmen Kendall Fuller and Brandon Facyson as the starting cornerbacks.
“It’s just the experience I have at the position, knowing the key reads and things like that, but we’ll definitely feel comfortable with Kendall and Brandon,” Fuller said. “They’ll get their reads and do well.”
– There seems to be a yearly confusion when Georgia Tech is on the schedule about the difference between cut blocks and chops blocks. Cut blocks are legal. It’s simply going low to cut out a player’s legs. Chop blocks are illegal. It’s when a player goes low to hit a defender while that player is engaged with another blocker high.
The Yellow Jackets use cut blocks far more than most teams.
“I think they’re certainly within the rules,” Beamer said. “I like our football team to [cut]. If you’re good at it, it takes the defender, he has to adjust to you. It’s not like you’re standing up and you can get your hands on a guy and there’s an adjustment. So it’s a very efficient way of playing.”
Beamer said Tech has a period of practice to prepare for it.
“The worst thing is to get into a game and go against it if you haven’t practiced it because they’re very good at it,” Beamer said. “That’s what they do and they’re good.”
– The 311-pound Hopkins hasn’t carried the ball since he was in rec league and basically burst through the line and stole it from a running back. Naturally, he was a little winded after Saturday’s fumble recovery and long run.
“I recovered,” he said. “It took me five minutes to catch my breath. I kind of laid on the field for a little bit, tried to catch my breath but it was a fun thing. …
“The ref came over and said, ‘Y’all need to get up. Hurry up.’ I was like, ‘Ref, I’m tired, I need a second. Give me a break.’ He was like, ‘All right.’ I got up.”
– How does Beamer assess the team after the non-conference portion of the schedule?
“Well, I’d say we are where we are,” he said. “I think offensively, we left some plays out there Saturday, but there’s things you can learn from, and how quickly we learn and get better is the deal. … We’re still learning and how quickly we become consistent and efficient, that’ll tell us how our year is going.”
“I have a different feel this year,” Hopkins said. “I feel like we’re going the right direction. Last year it was kind of stagnant. The people were kind of loafing and things like that. This year we’re going hard and staying hungry and going after the prize.”
– Quarterback Logan Thomas said he doesn’t think the offense is where the Hokies thought it would be at this point of the season.
“We thought we’d be a little bit stronger and doing a little bit better,” he said. “Obviously I think the offense is not doing as well on paper because we’re not putting up points in the red zone and the red zone is what’s killing us. We know it. We have the ability to put up more points and we haven’t done it, and that’s something we need to keep working on, keep getting better at, because honestly the red zone is the money area. That’s where you’ve got to get it done.”
Virginia Tech ranks 114th nationally in red zone efficiency this year. Thomas said he thinks it’s time Tech expands what it has done out of the playbook.
“Start adding in a couple more passes, a couple more runs and put a little bit more responsibility onto people,” he said. “That’s really about the extent that we’ll go. It’s nothing really earth shattering, nothing anybody else wouldn’t do.”
– Thomas was hot and cold with his passing Saturday. He looked sharp on a pair of touchdown drives in regulation but also had a stretch where he threw nine straight incompletions. Part of it is getting in a groove.
“I guess the only thing that happens is kind of getting that momentum going,” he said. “I think starting the drive off obviously with a first down, it gets things going. I think that’s how we’re built as an offense. We’re not a big explosive play offense. We’re going to have to keep drives going, keep making drives happen. You’ve got to start it all off with a first down.”
– Thomas had 23 carries, the second most he’s had in a game in his career. He said that wasn’t the game plan and that the weather forced the Hokies to alter their attack.
“It doesn’t bother me. I’ve been there before. I’ve done it.”It’s something I’m used to,” he said. “But yeah I’m sore. Obviously I’ve lost about 15 pounds from where I was last year, so I feel the hits a little bit more this year.”
– Virginia Tech and Georgia Tech have had some good games over the years. The Hokies have done well against the Yellow Jackets, winning four of five since Paul Johnson took over as coach.
“I always enjoy playing at Georgia Tech,” Thomas said. “Their fans get into it. Always when you play away, it’s a fun place when the fans are actually excited and ready to go, so I enjoy playing there and I obviously love playing at home in front of our fans. I don’t know if that has a direct connection, but I just enjoy playing there.”