Though Virginia Tech Coach Frank Beamer wasn’t ready to declare linebacker Bruce Taylor healthy enough to play against Pittsburgh, the fifth-year senior has other ideas.
Taylor, who did not play in Saturday’s win over Austin Peay because of an ankle injury, announced Monday that he plans to be in the lineup when Virginia Tech faces the Panthers in its first road game of the season this weekend.
“I know I’ll play,” Taylor said. “I’m still not at 100 percent but I went through the entire practice today.”
Taylor added that he was available in case of an emergency against Austin Peay, but that the training staff decided it was in his best interests to rest the ankle injury he suffered in the Hokies’ season-opening win over Georgia Tech.
“If we had no more linebackers and I needed to go, I would have definitely played,” Taylor noted.
His presence in the lineup should be a boon for Virginia Tech’s defense, because it appears likely linebacker Tariq Edwards will miss his third straight game Saturday. The redshirt junior still had a noticeable limp as he completed post-practice sprints Monday.
Lucky for the Hokies, their linebacker depth has come through thus far. Middle linebacker Jack Tyler is currently tied for fifth in the country with an ACC-high 25 tackles through two games.
Along with Taylor, Tyler’s run-stuffing skills should come in handy against a Pittsburgh offense that features dynamic tailback Ray Graham, a first-team all-Big East performer last year despite missing the final five games of the season after tearing his ACL. Graham is averaging 5.1 yards per carry through two games this year and reeled off a 50-yard run in Pittsburgh’s loss to Cincinnati last week.
Though the Panthers are 0-2, Hokies defensive coordinator Bud Foster is not taking them lightly. He has been studying Wisconsin film this week because first-year Panthers Coach Paul Chryst is using “the same routes, the same offense” at Pittsburgh as he did during his days as the Badgers’ offensive coordinator.
And Foster certainly hasn’t forgotten that Virginia Tech has lost its past three games to Pittsburgh. In all three games (2001, 2002 and 2003), Foster’s defense allowed more than 300 yards of total offense.
“We’re playing, like, a wounded animal. They’re gonna be backed up in a corner,” Foster said. “They’re playing at home. They’re playing a quality opponent in us. They’re gonna play their tail off.”
*Center Andrew Miller did not practice Monday after leaving Saturday’s game earlier than expected. Though Virginia Tech’s backup offensive linemen were scheduled to play, Miller saw fewer snaps than the rest of the starters. It’s unclear at this point exactly what injury Miller suffered.
*Wide receiver D.J. Coles, on the other hand, was in a blue jersey during practice Monday after Virginia Tech announced he would miss the rest of the season and pursue a medical redshirt when he suffered a knee injury against Georgia Tech. But Coach Frank Beamer told host Bill Roth on the athletic department’s radio show, “Tech Talk Live,” that he simply wants Coles to stay involved with football. Coles will still miss the remainder of the year.
*Foster singled out linebackers Deon Clarke and Chase Williams, defensive end Dadi Nicolas, cornerback Donaldven Manning and safety Michael Cole as back-ups who “took a step forward” during the Austin Peay game.
*The ACC announced Monday that Virginia Tech’s home game against Bowling Green on Sep. 22 will be a noon kickoff on ESPNU.