In the immediate aftermath of Virginia Tech’s ugly 13-10 overtime win over Rutgers in the Russell Athletic Bowl in Orlando, the Hokies tried to keep the focus on how they had just avoided the program’s first losing season since 1992. But they couldn’t avoid the speculation about an offseason that will likely feature the most upheaval Blacksburg has seen in quite some time.
Coach Frank Beamer once again declined to address rumors that he will overhaul his offensive coaching staff following the program’s worst season in 20 years, but it appears one of his assistants already has one foot out the door. Virginia Tech wide receivers coach Kevin Sherman, who recruits Maryland and Washington for the Hokies, would not confirm a report from Pete Roussel of Coachingsearch.com, that he is expected to accept a position at Purdue under new Coach Darrell Hazel.
“My focus right now is enjoying this win. I don’t know what you’re talking about just yet,” said Sherman, who did concede he has ties to the new staff in West Lafayette, Ind.
Sherman later declined to answer a question about whether he would be back with the Hokies next season, adding that reporters should be asking Beamer about any looming changes to the current staff.
But he wasn’t the only coach who faced inquiries about an uncertain future. After the Hokies gained a season-low 196 yards and mustered just 3 rushing yards on 32 attempts — the fewest yards ever in a win under Beamer — offensive coordinator Bryan Stinespring denied that he had interviewed to for a job on Auburn’s coaching staff in recent weeks when asked by a reporter.
New Auburn Coach Gus Malzahn recently hired former Hokies offensive line coach J.B. Grimes to assume the same position.
“I’ve been blessed and feel like there’s been opportunities, but unless we get to that point, I don’t spend a lot of time talking about the ifs and the possibilities,” Stinespring said. “That doesn’t do any good. I concentrate on what I’m doing right now.”
Quarterback Logan Thomas, meanwhile, certainly did not help his draft stock even though he broke his own single-season school record for total offense Friday. He was shaky all night, completing just 15 of his 39 passes for 193 yards, one touchdown and two interceptions. The redshirt junior has to yet to hear back from the NFL draft advisory board and is still considering forgoing his final season in Blacksburg.
Beamer said he spoke to Thomas about waiting to receive “accurate information, responsible information” before making up his mind. “He’s a smart guy, and he will make a good decision,” Beamer added.
“I can’t tell you now,” said Thomas, when asked if this were his final game at Virginia Tech. “I have a big decision in front of me. Either way it goes, I’m proud to be a Hokie.”
***Linebacker Bruce Taylor, cornerback Antone Exum and defensive end Dadi Nicolas exchanged some heated words and nearly got in a skirmish with Rutgers players as the two teams headed to the locker room for halftime Friday. Taylor said after the game it was the result of what the Hokies viewed as dirty plays by the Scarlet Knights toward the end of the second quarter.
“Guys were out there cheap-shotting and stuff and we’re not gonna stand for it,” Taylor said. “Somebody got stepped on. I know I got stepped on in an inappropriate area one time. It’s just how it goes sometimes.”
It didn’t diminish the performance Taylor put on in his final game wearing maroon and orange. Though he and defensive end James Gayle did not start the game after showing up late to a team dinner earlier in the week, Taylor finished with a team-high 11 tackles.
His blitzes off the edge were also pivotal in rattling Rutgers quarterback Gary Nova, who completed just 17 of his 40 pass attempts. Taylor also delivered a rousing halftime speech with the Hokies trailing 10-0, part of a dominant night for Bud Foster’s defense.
“We never lose hope in the guys on the other side of the ball,” said cornerback Antone Exum, the game’s most valuable player. “We knew they would, at some point, make the plays that needed to be made for us to take the lead.”
***Senior wide receivers Marcus Davis and Corey Fuller each said they have accepted invitations to participate in the East-West Shrine Game next month in St. Petersburg, Fla. Davis, who had four catches for 62 yards Friday, fell nine yards short of setting Virginia Tech’s single-season receiving yards record.