With a bye week starting today, Frank Beamer thinks the biggest area of improvement for the Hokies remains their inconsistent running game. One fix Virginia Tech will try to make it paring down its four-player running back rotation.
“I think four backs is too many,” Beamer said during a Monday teleconference.
The Hokies have split carries fairly evenly among Michael Holmes, J.C. Coleman, Tony Gregory and Martin Scales this season.
Coleman is the leading rusher of the backs, with 338 yards and two touchdowns on 56 carries. Holmes has 257 yards and four touchdowns on 61 carries. Gregory (29 carries, 158 yards, TD) and Scales (23 carries, 109 yards, 2 TD) have been called on the least so far.
Running backs coach Shane Beamer has long said he likes the diversity of running backs Tech has. Holmes is more of the all-around back, Coleman is elusive, Gregory a speedster and Scales the power option.
But Frank thinks splitting reps that much in practice is affecting the running game’s consistency, although he didn’t offer specifics of what the Hokies’ plan would be.
“I think that’s our No. 1 priority right now,” Frank said. “I think if we can get that squared away, I think that will affect other things. We have our moments at times, but I think to consistently be able to do that is a key objective for us.”
The Hokies are 72nd nationally and fifth in the ACC in rushing, averaging 157 yards per game. They had 199 rushing yards against Clemson, although 99 of those were by quarterback Logan Thomas. None of the backs finished with more than 29 yards.
Frank didn’t blame the running game’s inconsistency on one area, though.
“Again, sometimes you look at it and they could run better. Sometimes you look at it and we could block better. Sometimes you look at it and we get a block downfield by a wide receiver, that would make the play better. So it’s not just one thing, and I don’t want to make it sound that way. It’s a little of this and a little of that. The bottom line is we need to be more consistent as a group.”
Here are a few more notes and quotes from Beamer’s Monday teleconference …
- The offense and defense had film review this morning but will have this afternoon and the next two days off before reconvening to begin Miami preparation on Thursday. “I think mentally and physically we need to rest up a little bit,” Frank said. “It’s been a tough stretch and just a very physical stretch. So we’re going to refresh our minds and bodies a little bit and get ready to attack these last four games.”
- Beamer was asked if the Hokies submitted two questionable calls in the third quarter to the league office. The plays in questions were the Thomas sack when he was ruled in the grasp and Sammy Watkins‘ apparent fumble that was ruled otherwise even after replay. Beamer declined to go into it. “I’m going to keep our dealings with the ACC between us and the ACC and leave it at that,” he said. (Clemson’s DT on the play seems to think it shouldn’t have been a sack, although he’ll take it.)
- Beamer thinks the bye comes at a good time for a few injured players. (Sidebar: has any coach ever thought the bye didn’t come at a good time?) Left guard David Wang has battled through knee and ankle problems. “He’s kind of been banged up several ways,” Beamer said. “I give him a lot of credit for playing.” Beamer said the team will have to “wait and see” about backup center/guard Caleb Farris, who missed the Clemson game with an ankle injury.
- As for linebacker Tariq Edwards, Beamer continues to see progress. “I think every week get him back rolling and he got in there a few plays there Saturday,” Beamer said. ” But he’s got to be mentally into it also. And be ready to play like we’ve seen him play in the past. And I think we’re getting closer to seeing that.”
- Virginia Tech hasn’t had this bad of a record since 1992, when it went 2-8-1. The Hokies have had six seasons with four or more losses since then, but none of those times did they have four losses before November. What does Beamer call upon to right the ship, having not been through this kind of season in a while? “I think you look at your players and coaches and say, ‘Hey, are we giving our effort?’” he said. “And I think we are. I just think some things, like in that ballgame the other night, I don’t think it was a lack of effort, I just think it was some plays that didn’t work out our way. Some, as I said earlier, was their doings. And some, was otherwise. But the deal is as long as guys are giving effort, you’ve got to accept what’s come down and keep on working and keep on getting better. And finish up strong and it’d be a great feeling here to finish up strong. So that’s what I’m going to look at.”
- Beamer has talked before about having more pleasant conversations with fans during the offseason after winning the bowl game. Asked how much he hears from fans during the season, particularly one as trying as this one, he called the fans loyal and vocal, but noted that he tries to tune out all the outside noise. “I can honestly say that I don’t read papers and I don’t listen,” he said. “I try to look at what we’ve got here and what’s realistic and what’s real. and how can we solve problems. Right now, the people that can solve our problems are the coaches and players. And we’re 4-4. We haven’t had a record like that, but we’ve had some good moments, we’ve had some good play and to me that tells you that you can do that all the time. So I look at it in that direction.”