Corey Marshall might be back with the team, but he’s not going to play this year.
The Hokies have decided to redshirt the third-year player, who had a three-week leave from the team earlier this year for what defensive line coach Charley Wiles said was disciplinary reasons.
“That’s the plan right now,” head coach Frank Beamer said. “You don’t ever know about injuries, but I think with Marshall, get him back out to defensive end, which is a position he likes to play. He’s a guy who’s got a lot of talent. I think he’s got a future after Virginia Tech myself. So get him two years there playing the defensive end position.”
The 6-foot-1, 257-pound Marshall, who played as a true freshman in 2011 when defensive line depth was dire, returned to the team last Tuesday but had only limited practice time before the Hokies traveled to East Carolina, where they won 15-10.
Considering the season is a quarter of the way over and a pair of freshmen Woody Baron and Nigel Williams have played well to date as the backup tackles, the move makes sense. The line as a whole is probably playing as well as any unit on the team, with 12 sacks in three games.
“I think the depth during the course of a game gives the starters rest since it’s like we have eight starters,” defensive end J.R. Collins said.
Beamer said Tech will move Marshall back to his natural position at defensive end, which will help build some depth in the future. Seniors James Gayle, Collins and Tyrel Wilson will be gone after this year. Going forward, the Hokies will still have a deep group of ends that include Dadi Nicolas, Marshall, Ken Ekanem and Seth Dooley (who Beamer said he thinks will be “exceptional”), plus others.
Instead of next year being his final season, Marshall will be able to play in 2014 and ’15.
“Where we are in the season, where our whole football team is, where he is, I think that’s the best plan for him and us,” Beamer said.
Follow me on Twitter and Facebook.
Here are more notes and quotes from Tuesday’s press conference:
– Virginia Tech announced backup linebacker Devin Vandyke tore an ACL against Western Carolina and will miss the rest of the season. He’ll have surgery once the swelling goes down and has a 6- to 8-month recovery timetable, which will force him out for the spring as well. Devin’s older brother, Ronny, had season-ending surgery on his shoulder in August.
– You might have heard Virginia Tech will wear orange camouflage-influenced uniforms for Military Appreciation Day against Marshall. A sample helmet was sitting on the dais for today’s press conference. I asked Beamer what he thought about them.
“I kind of like them,” he said. “Have you seen them?”
I pointed to the helmet literally sitting a foot away from him. [sidebar: the camo works!]
Will Beamer be wearing camo on the sidelines like a lot of coaches do?
“They haven’t told me yet,” he said. “I’ll see what Nike says.”
How do the players like them?
“I think [John] Ballein and the guys that picked it out did a great job with it,” quarterback Logan Thomas said. “It’s for a good cause. Hopefully we look good and we play good.”
The unis and helmets will be auctioned off afterward, with some of the proceeds being given to the Intrepid Fallen Heroes Fund.
– I’ll have more on this in a story for tomorrow’s paper, but Thomas talked about defenses daring the Hokies to pass the ball. He said he came to the sideline early in the third quarter, when the running game didn’t have much going, and said, “Throw it.”
“That’s all I said to coach, and he said the same thing back,” Thomas said. “And from then on I guess we threw the ball the majority of the time.”
Thomas finished the game 25-for-43 for 258 yards, with two touchdowns and one pick. He said he did better with his progressions, something he said is still relatively new for him. It wasn’t an emphasis under the old offensive coaching staff.
“We would have progressions, but they weren’t talked about in the same way as we talk about them now,” Thomas said. “They really run the offense, they run how we throw the football, so I feel a lot more confident and a lot more comfortable in this new way.”
– Thomas had eight carries for 10 yards against East Carolina after not having a carry for the first time in his career against Western Carolina.
“We didn’t need me to run the ball and the less hits I took the better off,” Thomas said of last week.
– Marshall likes to crank the pace, something Beamer made mention of, although he didn’t have the exact numbers.
We do: the Thundering Herd ran 1,097 plays in 12 games last year (91.4 per game). Only Tulsa and UCLA ran more, but they both played 14 games.
Through three games this year, Marshall had run 247 plays. Only California (284) and Iowa (249) have run more. ECU also liked to push the pace, so the Hokies will at least have a familiarity with facing that type of offense.
“The expectations will probably be the same as far as practice just like we did last week against ECU, running two different scout team offenses,” linebacker Tariq Edwards said.
– Edwards felt like he didn’t look fast when he saw the play where he ran down ECU quarterback Shane Carden in the open field for a sack. Pretty much everyone else disagrees.
“He really looked fast and the interception was an exceptional play,” Beamer said. “Two or three times, he got in the throwing lane and made the quarterback hold the ball and all of sudden now we’re sacking the quarterback. Little things like that. … He’s not only an athletic, big, tall linebacker that can run, but he’s got good football sense. So like having those guys around.”
Coming off a knee/leg injury that essentially kept him out for all of 2012, Edwards took things slow in training camp, often taking days off to rest it. He’s felt good lately, though.
“It’s been a progression, I think, as the weeks go by,” he said. “It’s getting better and better. I’m constantly day to day, just getting to a point where I don’t really feel it at all.”
– Virginia Tech has gotten off to a slow start on kick returns, ranking 123rd out of 125 FBS teams with a 16.5-yard average. Beamer thinks a couple of things factor in, including poor decisions, but the returners can help themselves out by catching the ball in a better place.
“You need to be catching it and going forward,” he said. “You don’t need to be catching it and taking another step back and they’re coming at you. Take two steps and you’re back to where you started. There’s some little things we can do better. It’s a little bit of this and a little bit of that on that team right now, but we’ve concentrated on it. … I think it’s just a matter of time.”
– Collins said the defense’s goal is to force three turnovers a game. Tech has hit that number each of the last two games after having just one interception against Alabama.
“I think the biggest stand in football is turnovers because you’re talking about field position,” Beamer said. “You’re talking about momentum.”
– The Hokies have a short week to prepare for Georgia Tech and its spread option offense next week, but Beamer said Tech is putting all of its focus on Marshall right now.
“It’s a tough deal,” he said. Three games in 12 days … and two of them are away. You talk about tough scheduling. But you know, we’re just going to be tested mentally and physically and just got to be good how we practice and how long we practice, but yet practice and get done what we need to get done. But we got it all planned out.”
Georgia Tech doesn’t have any additional time. The Yellow Jackets host North Carolina to open ACC play this Saturday.