The Virginia Tech football team completed its first open scrimmage Saturday, giving fans a look at some of the new Hokies and returning stars.
Redshirt sophomore Ryan Williams made a statement early on with a 20-yard run on the first play from scrimmage. Williams played sparingly, but his counterpart, redshirt junior Darren Evans, received a warm welcome for his return to the gridiron after tearing his ACL this past fall. Evans made the most of his time on the field, rushing for 27 yards on four carries and catching one pass for 13 yards.
“Your first stadium scrimmage, I always look at effort,” said Tech head coach Frank Beamer. “I thought that was pretty good for the most part. There are probably a couple of situations where we need to pick it up. We had some big plays and had a chance to make a couple more offensively that we didn’t make. I think where you are now in spring practice is you get a starting point and reduce the number of people that you’re going to work with and get better. That’s where we are.”
Junior quarterback Tyrod Taylor also did not disappoint, dazzling fans with a 35-yard touchdown pass to redshirt junior Danny Coale. Taylor looked like his old self after rolling to his left and evading several defenders to get the pass to Coale for the score. However, Tech’s defense brought unrelenting pressure for much of the scrimmage.
While the quarterbacks were protected from being tackled, the Hokies’ defense managed an impressive 11 sacks. Defensive ends Steven Friday and James Gayle, redshirt senior and redshirt freshman, respectively, each finished with two sacks. Kwamaine Battle, a redshirt junior defensive tackle, registered a pair of sacks.
The Hokies only returned one starter on the defensive line and will look to a talented, but inexperienced, crop of players to fill those voids.
“I thought (the scrimmage) was enthusiastic, I thought the effort was good, I thought ... they responded well,” said Charley Wiles, defensive line coach. “I think there’s a lot of good competition going on, I think there are a lot of talented kids. The more they play the better they’ll get and hopefully we can stay healthy. I feel confident we’ll have a good two-deep when it’s all said and done.”
The Hokies have an entirely different problem at the running back position this spring than last season. The talented sophomore David Wilson is stuck in a crowded stable of backs, with Williams and Evans heading the rushing attack. While
Wilson ran for 39 yards on six carries, he could redshirt this season to save a year of eligibility.
Even so, Beamer is encouraged by the depth at the position and the opportunities for big play ability.
“I thought Evans got back in there, I think he looks better than ever,” Beamer said. “I like our tailbacks, couple times we need to get going towards the goal line rather than run toward the sidelines, but we got a couple behind (Williams and Evans) that got some real, real speed.”