1. Cornerback Kyle Fuller (groin) is still on the mend.
The senior was in a blue, limited-contact jersey after missing most of the last two weeks because of a lingering groin strain first suffered during the Hokies’ bye week. Fuller said he just tweaked it while running that week and hasn’t gotten back to 100 percent since.
“It’s getting it to where I need it to be to go out there and play at a high level without it bothering me,” he said.
He’s hoped that would be the case each week since he suffered it, though. He tried against Duke but could only do some work on special teams.
It bothered him the entire week leading up to Boston College — “I couldn’t really run and all the things like that,” he said — so his 49-game participation streak came to an end.
“It’s very frustrating, just not being able to go out there and perform the way I’ve been,” he said. “But it is what it is.”
“I’m definitely going to try to give it a go,” he added. “Like I said, I’ve been out two weeks, just trying to get it treated, get it back to as close to 100 percent as I can. I’ll see where it is.”
2. Expect more Dadi Nicolas on Saturday.
Defensive line coach Charley Wiles sounded genuinely upset with himself for only getting the sophomore defensive end in for about seven plays against Boston College.
The Hokies had prepared the look they used against Pitt, where Nicolas lined up as a whip linebacker, but Boston College didn’t come out in formations conducive to that defense much last Saturday.
“Every time I stepped on the field, they kind of changed it,” Nicolas said. “I guess they saw the Pitt film or something. It was fine and we were handling our business. The people that were in front of me, I knew I had to play my role.”
Wiles noted that Nicolas still played well, despite his limited snaps, making two tackles, including one for a loss.
“Should have played more, looking at the film. He should have played more,” Wiles said. “He was being Dadi. He was in there. Made the tackle for a loss the first play he was in the game, crushed 44, then made a play over on the boundary. He should have played more. That was my fault.”
How will Wiles remedy the situation this week? It’s pretty simple, actually.
“He’s going to play more,” Wiles said.
3. Don’t say a discouraging word about Logan Thomas around his offensive linemen.
It irks the Hokies’ offensive linemen more than anyone to hear fans badmouthing Thomas, who has become a polarizing figure among the Virginia Tech faithful, especially after eight turnovers the last few weeks.
“Better not say it around me,” right guard Andrew Miller said. “That’s the guy I’ve been protecting since Day 1, so …”
Center David Wang, like Thomas an ’09 recruit, understands the scrutiny the position gets, although he calls this recent criticism unfair.
“I mean, when you’re the quarterback, whenever you’re a star player, you’re going to get the brunt of the media attention and people watching more closely,” Wang said. “As an offensive line, if we have a bad game, we all have a bad game. … They don’t really point out one person.
“But he’s that sole quarterback. He’s the star of our team. He’s going to get more of the media attention, but like I said, I’m always going to have his back, and no matter what happens throughout this year, no matter what’s happened in the past, he’ll always be my quarterback.”
Miller said he’s never had anyone say anything to his face bad about Thomas.
“That was probably smart on their decision,” he said. “But I know last year when I had to sit out those games, I visited my first home game and I was on the sideline, it was very depressing to see how much trash-talking that went on in the stands beside me.
“But most of the people are very supportive, our fans are. But you get those few that really when something’s going wrong, point fingers. And I’m not one of those guys.”
Here are some more notes and quotes from Tuesday’s post-practice interviews …
– Receiver Willie Byrn (back/tailbone) and defensive back Chuck Clark (ankle) were in blue jerseys Tuesday. Byrn appeared to be moving around gingerly after taking what appeared to be a knee to his lower back at the end of a catch against Boston College.
Right tackle Brent Benedict had his right foot in a walking boot and was getting treatment Tuesday. He didn’t practice.
Laurence Gibson stepped in for him with the first team. Miller, who said he had to step out of practice briefly after hitting the weights hard Tuesday, said he thinks Benedict’s injury is something mild.
Offensive line coach Jeff Grimes didn’t sound too concerned about the various bumps and bruises on his line.
“[It's] nothing that I don’t think will keep guys from playing, but maybe miss some practice time,” Grimes said. “It’s that time of the year. Even the guys that are practicing and playing are banged up. It’s just part of the deal.”
– What stands out to Grimes about Miami’s defensive line?
“Everything,” he said. “Start with their size. They’ve got really, really big defensive linemen, big linebackers. Look a lot physically like Alabama, a 3-4 team that starts with having guys that are big enough to two gap you and try to play on the line of scrimmage with their defensive line and let their backers go make plays.
“But at the same time, they’re not a bunch of big slugs. They can all move. They all have explosiveness and quickness and they’re going to be a big challenge for us because it’s an unusual combination of size and speed in their front seven.”
– Left tackle Jonathan McLaughlin had a tall order going up against BC defensive end Kasim Edebali on Saturday. Edebali got the better of him, finishing with seven tackles, two sacks and two forced fumbles, including the one on a sack of Thomas that led to an Eagles touchdown when they were trailing 17-10 in the third quarter.
Grimes called Edebali “one of the best pass rushers in the league,” so asking McLaughlin to handle him was a major task.
“For the most part, 90 percent of the game, he did a great job blocking that guy,” Grimes said. “There were a couple times he could have done a better job and he was frustrated by that. But he’s a young guy that continues to learn and I know he’ll get better.”
Miller praised McLaughlin’s effort, saying when “technique goes out the window, he can fight for it.” He fought a little bit too much, though, getting flagged for holding a couple times.
“I mean, that’s one of the things on the offensive line,” Miller said. “We’re going to hold. It’s just if they catch us. I mean, I’ve had my fair share.”
– Wiles said Miami won’t do a whole lot different with Dallas Crawford in the game at running back for the injured Duke Johnson.
Johnson, who broke his ankle against Florida State and will miss the remainder of the year, had 920 rushing yards. The 5-foot-10, 194-pound Crawford only has 294 yards on 67 carries, but he does have nine touchdowns.
“Yeah, they don’t change,” Wiles said. “And he’s a good player too. I mean, he was getting work anyway. … He’s quick. Jumps sideways. Great vision. He’s a good player.”
Linebacker Jack Tyler said defensive coordinator Bud Foster likened it to the Hokies’ situation a couple years ago when Ryan Williams got hurt and another eventual stud running back, David Wilson, stepped in.
“They’re both kind of dynamic backs,” Tyler said. “They both can score on any play. He’s not quite as big as Duke, but he’s still got some juice. He’s fast, he’s quick, he’s really shifty. Just a good back.”
– Wiles also had high praise for BC running back Andre Williams. While the majority of reporters, including myself, were interviewing running backs coach Shane Beamer, Wiles could be heard clearly across the room telling another reporter: “HE’S A FREAK! YOU SEE THE WAY HE RUNS IT, DUDE!?!? ARE YOU KIDDING ME?!?”
Despite Williams’ 166-yard day against the Hokies, which included a 62-yard touchdown run late, Wiles thought Virginia Tech played well as a defense.
“We gave up one run,” he said. “We played good. And we let that one pop at the end. We fit that thing out all day. It wasn’t like they ran a new play. And [Detrick] Bonner ran up Jack’s butt and … it takes everybody to stop what they do. You notice how they lined up, right? We fit that out all day. We played well. I don’t see any issues. Now, we let one pop at the end.”
– Wiles was disappointed with the loss, but summed it up like this:
“If we were 8-1 or 6-3, we’ve still got to beat Miami,” he said. “We’re playing for a chance to go to Charlotte and play in an ACC championship. So everybody should be excited about that. We all are very excited about the opportunity.”
Shane had a similar sentiment.
“We’ve still got a chance to go compete for a conference championship if we can win these next three, is our mindset,” he said. “I know Duke needs to lose and all that stuff, but what’s happened in the past has happened in the past, and we’re looking forward. …
“It’s like we told the team before at practice, we’re the same team that everybody two weeks ago was patting us on the back and we were 6-1 and ranked 14th in the country. And now everybody thinks we stink and we ought to bench this guy and bench that guy. It’s week-to-week in this business. And we’re focused on going forward.”
– I asked Shane about running out of the shotgun near the goal line (and plan to ask Scot Loeffler something similar Wednesday, probably for a story that’ll run later this week).
I got the sense that, without explicitly saying it, Virginia Tech might not be best suited to simply line up and mash, like Boston College did. Here’s how Shane answered. You be the judge:
“There’s no question that we’ve got to be able to line up and take the snap from under center and hand the ball to the tailback without being in the shotgun at times,” he said. “With the runs … all of those down there near the goal line were some form of a zone read, so Logan was reading somebody. And in order to do that, we had to be in the shotgun.
“Whether I think we were in the pistol a couple times or we were in the gun, if we’re going to do the zone read down there, which we’ve done quite a bit of, you’ve got to be in the gun.
“But there are also times where we’ve got to be under center, be able to cram it up in there as well. We were under center on the fourth-and-1 where we got stuffed there at midfield against Duke. We were under center. Got in that situation again and decided the zone read gave us a chance, and then we were setting up that pass that we threw to Kalvin [Cline] for the touchdown.
“So it was a little bit of everything. But there’s no doubt that you want to be able to take the snap from under center, cram it up in there and go without being in the ‘gun.”