It’s hard to draw any conclusions from an hour-long scrimmage that wasn’t open to the public. But judging from Virginia Tech’s coaching staff, Wednesday evening’s mini-scrimmage was one of the more lackluster showings by the Hokies this spring.
Redshirt sophomore Logan Thomas completed eight of his 17 pass attempts for 110 yards, threw his first interception of the spring and “just didn’t come out quite as sharp for whatever reason,” said quarterbacks coach Mike O’Cain.
O’Cain said Thomas was especially inaccurate early on, missing low on some throws. Running backs coach Shane Beamer admitted the defense “got after the offense pretty good.” When it was all said and done, Bud Foster’s unit collected an interception (safety Eddie Whitley), one sack (defensive end Tyrel Wilson), nine tackles for loss and seven quarterback hurries.
But perhaps the biggest problem facing Coach Frank Beamer is the performance of his kicking game. Wednesday was the first scrimmage in which Virginia Tech’s place kickers and punters took kicks facing live action, and Beamer said afterward he’s still looking for somebody to step up and grab hold of both starting positions.
“We’re gonna put a lot of heat on our punters and our field goal guys the last practices here, from here until the spring game,” Beamer said. “They’re all good enough to do it. Now they just got to go out there and do it when it’s nitty-gritty time.”
Beamer is particularly concerned about his next punter. Redshirt freshman Ethan Keyserling would appear to be the front-runner after booming a 52-yarder on Wednesday. The three other main competitors for the job - Scott Demier, Conor Goulding and Grant Bowden - were unable to muster a punt farther than 35 yards. But Beamer said the job is still “wide open.”
The Hokies have had the luxury of all-ACC place kickers the past two seasons, and last year senior Chris Hazley made 21 consecutive field goals after missing his first kick of the season.
Beamer sounds much more comfortable with the prospective replacements there, even though his kickers missed four of their five field goal attempts Wednesday night.
He said redshirt freshman Cody Journell, who is the rare kicker to earn a scholarship from the get-go at Virginia Tech, and redshirt senior Tyler Weiss, a transfer from Murray State, are the two leading candidates at this point because they’ve been the most calm and steady thus far.
On Wednesday, Journell connected on a 32-yard field goal but had a 44-yard attempt blocked by cornerback Jayron Hosley. Weiss missed both of his field goal attempts, from 49 and 43 yards. Beamer said the strongest leg belongs to kickoff specialist Justin Myer, but he’s been unable to couple that power with any sort of consistent accuracy. Myer missed his lone field goal attempt Wednesday, from 43 yards out.
The Hokies’ next full scrimmage is Friday night at Lane Stadium, when Beamer hopes a clearer picture emerges as to just who will be Virginia Tech’s specialists next season.
The full statistics from Wednesday’s mini-scrimmage:
PASSING -- Thomas 8 for 17, 110 yards, 1 INT; JuJu Clayton 6 for 10, 52 yards; Mark Leal 2 for 5, 25 yards; Trey Gresh 1 for 3, 11 yards.
RUSHING — Leal 3-16; Thomas 5-12; James Hopper 6-12; Clayton 1-11; Willie Byrn 1-9; Daniel Dyer 3-8; Justin Ryals 2-7; Josh Oglesby 2-0; Marcus Davis 1-(-1); Team 1-(-10).
RECEIVING — Jarrett Boykin 6-61; Davis 3-51; Byrn 2-29; David Wilson 1-24; Mark Carter 1-11; Danny Coale 1-10; Randall Dunn 1-7; Dyer 1-5.
DEFENSIVE STANDOUTS — Adeboye Aromire 6 tackles, 1 TFL; Wiley Brown 5 tackles, 1 break-up; Jeron Gouveia-Winslow 5 tackles; Alonzo Tweedy 4 tackles, 1 TFL; Jayron Hosley 3 tackles, 2 TFL, 1 blocked FG; Tariq Edwards 3 tackles, 1 TFL, 1 break-up, 1 QB hurry; Zack McCray 3 tackles, 2 TFL; Chase Williams 3 tackles, 1 QB hurry; Eddie Whitley 2 tackles, 1 INT; James Gayle 2 tackles, 1 TFL, 2 QB hurries; Telvion Clark 2 tackles, 1 break-up, 1 QB hurry; Derrick Hopkins 2 tackles, 1 QB hurry; Duan Perez-Means 2 tackles, 1 QB hurry; Antone Exum 1 tackle, 1 break-up; Tyrel Wilson 1 sack; Nick Acree 1 break-up
KICKING — Weiss 0 for 2 (43, 49 yards); Journell 1 for 2 (made 32, blocked 44); Myer 0 for 1 (43).
PUNTING — Keyserling 1-52; Goulding 1-35; Bowden 1-33; Demier 1-15.