Friday night’s football scrimmage at Lane Stadium began with Virginia Tech running back David Wilson busting through several tackles en route to a 25-yard run and scoring a touchdown on the very next play. It turned out to be a fitting start to a night in which the Hokies offense exploded for its most productive performance of the spring.
After a slow start, quarterback Logan Thomas had touchdowns throws of 43 and 29 yards to wide receiver Danny Coale and completed 9 of his 16 passes for 214 yards. It was his most impressive showing since taking the reins behind center and was part of an effort that saw Virginia Tech’s offense gain 493 total yards, including 375 through the air.
Coale didn’t attempt any punts Friday night, but that didn’t stop him from leading all receivers with seven catches and 158 yards. Redshirt junior Marcus Davis, meanwhile, continued his breakout spring with a 5-catch, 107-yard performance, which included a 70-yard touchdown reception in which he beat first-team cornerback Kyle Fuller and then broke two arm tackles on his way to the end zone.
At the split end position, junior D.J. Coles had an encouraging night with six catches for 80 yards. Coale and Davis are currently tied atop the depth chart at flanker.
“I love the competition,” Coale said. “By that happening, it’s definitely making me a better player and hopefully it’s making [Davis] a better player. In the end, we’re going to make each other better and that’s how we look at it.”
Heading into the scrimmage, offensive coordinator Bryan Stinespring said he had two main goals for his unit after a lackluster showing by the offense during Wednesday’s mini-scrimmage.
He wanted to get Wilson involved since he won’t be participating in the Hokies spring game due to track and field team obligations next weekend. Consider that accomplished after Wilson scored three touchdowns and gained 76 yards on just eight carries - all while showing off a newfound physicality to go along with the wheels we’ve become accustomed to.
But more important, Stinespring wanted to force Thomas, as well as back-up quarterbacks Ju-Ju Clayton and Mark Leal, to complete some passing plays. Leal went 5 of 9 for 132 yards and had that 70-yard touchdown reception to Davis. Clayton went just 6 of 15 for 35 yards and threw two interceptions in his first extended action of the spring
“We needed to pitch it and catch it,” said Stinespring, who also debuted a Bud Foster-esque goatee afterwards. “We needed some decisions being made out there. We’ve got to put them in position to make decisions, change protections.” . . .
Don’t let the offensive statistics fool you, though. Much of it occurred with Virginia Tech’s starting defense on the sidelines. Foster said afterwards there was just one scholarship player in the second-team secondary Friday night, and joked that “we got them from Walmart” while discussing his back-ups as a whole.
To close the scrimmage, the first-team defense held the Hokies starting offense to two-consecutive three-and-outs during a two-minute drill, a sequence that included two poor snaps and three sacks.
Defensive end J.R. Collins led the charge on this night with seven tackles, two sacks and four tackles for loss. Back-up linebacker Telvion Clark had a team-high eight tackles, while safety Antone Exum delivered a couple jarring hits and finished with five tackles, two tackles for loss and one pass break-up.
“You watch that first group, I’ve been impressed with them all spring,” Foster said. “We play hard. We’re physical. We’ve got an attitude. We’ve got some speed.” . . .
The big development on special teams involved kicker Cody Journell. Coach Frank Beamer indicated that the redshirt freshman separated himself from the pack for the starting job by making four his five field goal attempts. Journell’s only miss Friday came from 46 yards out.
On the other hand, the punting situation remains unclear. Redshirt freshman Ethan Keyserling got the most work, but he averaged just 27 yards on his three punts. Beamer said that even though Coale didn’t get any work at punter Friday, he’s now back in the mix .. . .
On the injury front, cornerback Jayron Hosley sat out Friday’s scrimmage after suffering what secondary coach Torrian Gray deemed a potential concussion during Wednesday’s mini-scrimmage. . . . Local products Chase Williams (Loudoun County HS) and Brian Laiti (Robinson HS), both back-up linebackers, each had interceptions. . . .
Here are the full statistics:
PASSING - Thomas 9 of 16 for 214 yards, 2 TDs; Clayton 5 of 16 for 39 yards, 2 INTs; Leal 5 of 9 for 132 yards, 1 TD.
RUSHING - Wilson 8-76, 3 TDs; Josh Oglesby 13-32; Thomas 3-15; Leal 5-13; Daniel Dyer 5-7; Greg Gaddell 3-1; James Hopper 5-0; Justin Ryals 1-(-4); Clayton 1-(-5); Team 2-(-17).
RECEIVING - Coale 7-158, 2 TDs; Coles 6-80; Davis 5-107, 1 TD; Boykin 1-30; Gaddell 1-0.
DEFENSIVE STANDOUTS - Clark 8 tackles, 1 TFL, 1 QB hurry; Collins 7 tackles, 4 TFLs, 2 sacks; Carl Jackson 6 tackles; Exum 5 tackles, 2 TFLs, 1 break-up; Eddie Whitley 4 tackles, 1 TFL, 2 break-ups; Fuller 2 tackles, 1 break-up; Chris Caver 2 tackles, 1 TFL, 1 break-up; Williams 2 tackles, 1 INT; Laiti 2 tackles, 1 INT; Antoine Hopkins 3 tackles, 1 sack; Perez-Means 3 tackles, 1 TFL; Gayle 3 tackles 1 sack; Derrick Hopkins 2 tackles, 1 TFL.
KICKING - Journell 4 of 5 (made 18, 27, 30, 30; missed 46); Justin Myer 1 of 2 (made 41, missed 28); Tyler Weiss 0 of 1 (37).
PUNTING - Keyserling 3-81; Scott Demler 1-36; Grant Bowden 1-22.