Virginia Tech spent much of its bye week trying to sort out a running game that has featured four tailbacks and no consistency. But whatever changes the Hokies plan to implement ahead of Thursday’s pivotal Coastal division showdown at Miami, Coach Frank Beamer isn’t talking specifically about them.
On his Monday teleconference with reporters, Beamer said the team is “practicing with an idea” about how the rotation of running backs will look going forward, declining to go into detail about what that might mean against a Hurricanes defense that is giving up the second-most rushing yards in the country this year (249.25 yards).
“The thing that’s tough is all of them can play,” Beamer said Monday. “After the Cincinnati game, [redshirt freshman Michael] Holmes looked like the guy and he made a couple terrific runs. After Bowling Green, [redshirt junior Tony] Gregory looked like the guy. He got out there in space. Then after Duke, [freshman JC] Coleman looked like the guy.
“That’s the tough part. All of them have had their moments, but we’d like to find week after week, this is what we’re gonna get. That’s what we’re trying to get to.”
Based on what running backs coach Shane Beamer told reporters this weekend, the Hokies could still use all four options. He noted the hope is that the coaching staff puts each runner in formations and personnel groupings best suited for their strengths and that the rotation wouldn’t change all that much from Virginia Tech’s 38-17 loss to Clemson.
In that game, Coleman and Gregory saw the majority of snaps, with Coleman receiving a team-high 12 carries. Senior Martin Scales and Holmes, the opening day starter, played situationally. But Virginia Tech’s tailbacks mustered just 93 yards on 26 carries, and the Hokies have had just one game (Duke) in which a running back has finished with more than 100 yards rushing.
Other than the backfield, though, Frank Beamer said the Hokies don’t plan to alter much else despite their lackluster 4-4 record this year.
“Our thing really, when you get down to it, is just to be more consistent,” Beamer said. “I think the way you get consistent isn’t changing, but just keep working. I think the things we’ve got are good, it’s just a matter of doing them in a better way and a more consistent way, whether it’s offense, defense or special teams. You want have a better team as the year goes along, and to me that’s the way to go about it.”
Even with its struggles, Virginia Tech would put itself in the driver’s seat to secure a third-straight Coastal division title by beating Miami Thursday. Both teams have two conference losses, and the Hokies already hold the tiebreaker over Duke and Georgia Tech.
North Carolina is ineligible to win the division due to a self-imposed postseason ban.