The Virginia Tech football team held a 42-play mini-scrimmage Wednesday evening, the first time all spring the Hokies have gone full speed with tackling. Just the fifth practice for this group, the results were predictably a mixed bag according to all those involved. Media members were not allowed to watch the proceedings.
Perhaps most important in this tune-up for Saturday’s initial full-scale scrimmage at Lane Stadium was the play of new quarterback Logan Thomas. He completed 4 of his 6 pass attempts, including a 61-yard completion to wide receiver Danny Coale.
Running back David Wilson, meantime, had three rushes for 21 yards and one reception for eight yards. But other than Thomas, Coale and Wilson, Coach Frank Beamer called the scrimmage “pretty ragged stuff.”
“It was exactly how I thought I was gonna feel like” before the scrimmage, offensive coordinator Bryan Stinespring said. “I knew there were gonna be some good things I was gonna be excited about and things I was a little disappointed with. I thought we came out, made some plays early. For the most part, Logan threw the ball well. I thought he ran the offense. There were a few glitches, but for the most part I thought he did a fine job out there and made some terrific throws. We gave up a sack on a communication deal and that was disappointing, but overall I’m pretty excited.”
On the defensive side of the ball, cornerback Cris Hill intercepted a pass off of redshirt freshman quarterback Mark Leal, and defensive tackle Derrick Hopkins notched two sacks. Redshirt sophomore James Gayle also contributed a sack.
After the jump, check out some more notes and quotes from Wednesday’s practice session as well as full stats from the first semi-real action of the 2011 football season.
l Tight end Chris Drager, who’s making the switch from defensive end this spring, had one catch for 21 yards Wednesday. But he told reporters afterwards he felt like he took a step back in his progression during his first scrimmage since returning to offense.
Stinespring, who is also Drager’s position coach, said Wednesday there’s “a rust value right there,” when discussing how the transition has been going. When asked, Drager couldn’t pinpoint exactly what he’s struggling with, just that it’s “the whole process,” of re-learning a position he hasn’t played in two years.
“I was playing hesitant, second guessing myself,” Drager said. “As good as I thought things were going, I think I was overestimating myself. … It’s just gonna take some time.”
l The most refreshing development of this spring has come from the secondary, where redshirt freshman Detrick Bonner has opened the eyes of defensive backs coach Torrian Gray. Even with junior Jayron Hosley and sophomore Kyle Fuller entrenched as starters, Gray said Bonner is making an impression on everyone and showed again on Wednesday that he could be a playmaker this fall.
“I wasn’t quite sure he would have had the speed to run with certain guys, but he’s a very coachable guy. I’ve been a little bit surprised he’s playing as well as he did, which is what we need,” said Gray of Bonner, who had two tackles and a pass break-up Wednesday. “I feel good about him and this scrimmage right here verified what you think you’ve seen for the first three or four days of practice. So hopefully he’ll continue to keep going at this progression.”
I’ll have more on Bonner Friday here on the blog. As for the safeties, Gray said starters Eddie Whitley and Antone Exum had some execution issues, but “at least they’re getting lined up right.” The same cannot be said about their back-ups, Wiley Brown and Theron Norman, who Gray was less than pleased with.
l Washington native Ricardo Young (H.D. Woodson High), who is among three redshirt freshmen vying to challenge incumbent Ju-Ju Clayton for the second-string quarterback spot behind Thomas, had an impressive 17-yard run and completed the only pass he attempted Wednesday night. The only problem is that he ended the evening on crutches after suffering a foot injury scrambling outside the pocket. There’s no word yet on how long he’ll be out.
l Beamer said the competition at place kicker is still “up in the air,” but singled out redshirt freshman Ethan Keyserling for praise when discussing who had the edge to be the Hokies next punter. Beamer also said kicker/punter Scott Demier recently, “hurt his foot a little bit.”
Before we get to the statistics, one last thought from Beamer on just what Wednesday night means in the grand scheme of things this spring:
“In the end, you don’t get great execution, but we’re really trying to figure out what 22 we want to work with on defense and what 22 we want to work with on offense,” he said. Wednesday “I think is a big step towards reducing the number of people we work with.”
And finally, the full statistics:
PASSING: Thomas 4 of 6, 100 yards; Trey Gersh 2 of 5, 20 yards; Leal 1 of 7, 7 yards, INT; Young 1 of 1, 5 yards.
RUSHING: Wilson 3-21; Dyer 3-10; Young 2-5; Oglesby 2-3; James Hopper 5-2; Marcus Davis 1-2; Martin Scales 1-2; Thomas 3-(-3); Justin Ryals 2-(-5)
RECEIVING: Coale 1-61; Drager 1-21; Randall Dunn 1-18; Davis 1-10; Wilson 1-8; Scales 1-7; E.L. Smiling 1-5; Riley Beiro 1-2
DEFENSIVE STANDOUTS: Derrick Hopkins 3 tackles, 2 sacks; Gayle 1 sack; Hill 1 tackle, INT; Duan Perez-Means 3 tackles; Jeron Gouveia-Winslow 3 tackles; Alonzo Tweedy 3 tackles; Adeboye Aromire 2 tackles, 1 pass break-up; Bonner 2 tackles; 1 pass break-up; Nick Acree 1 TFL, 1 QB hurry