Virginia Tech fans got their first glimpse of the 2011 football team, including starting quarterback Logan Thomas, Saturday morning.
In what was a fog-covered Lane Stadium, the Hokies opened an intra-squad scrimmage to the public for the first time this spring, unveiling a number of new faces on the field and sideline.
“I thought it was a good scrimmage,” said Frank Beamer, head coach. “I thought the effort was good all the way around. It’s going to show us where we’ve got a lot of work to do, but as long as you’re getting good effort, the other things will come around.”
Thomas, the new quarterback, had a somewhat quiet performance but completed several nice passes to wide receiver Marcus Davis.
Thomas finished eight of 14 for 75 yards on the day.
“Overall, he played today like he’s been playing all spring,” said Mike O’Cain, quarterbacks coach. “I’ve been very pleased with his progress. He’s throwing the ball very accurately, making good decisions. And I feel real good about where he is right
A large contingent of Hokies sat the scrimmage out because of injuries, including linebackers Bruce Taylor (shoulder) and Jack Tyler (back), offensive guard Greg Nosal (shoulder), running back Tony Gregory (knee), quarterback Ricardo Young (foot), defensive tackle Dwight Tucker (ankle) and wide receivers Jarrett Boykin (groin) and Dyrell Roberts (compartment syndrome).
The injuries at linebacker opened the door for 2009 starter Barquell Rivers to get all the first-team reps. Rivers, who sat out all of 2010 with a quadriceps injury, is almost back to 100 percent.
“(Rivers has) made some good plays. Then sometimes you look at him, and when he has to change direction it looks like (his leg still bothers him),” Beamer said. “He’s tough, and you give him every opportunity to play.”
Continuing on the defensive side of the ball, defensive end James Gayle was extremely disruptive coming off the edge.
The 6-foot-4, 255-pound Gayle won the Excalibur Award, which is given to the Hokies top offseason workout performer.
The results translated to the field, as he finished with two sacks and two tackles for loss.
“I feel like it was just one of those days where everything panned out my way,” Gayle said, afterward. “Logan was a lot of times just falling into my arms.”
The performance caught the attention of defensive coordinator Bud Foster, who believes the redshirt sophomore could be an anchor for the Hokies front four.
“He’s just really confident in what he’s doing right now, and I really like that,” Foster said. “He’s going to end up being a leader here, because he plays hard, and he’s going to earn a lot of kids’ respect. He’s going to be a playmaker.”
While no red zone plays were run on Saturday, it didn’t mean there wasn’t any scoring. Trey Gresh, one of three quarterbacks competing for the third-string duties, found tight end Randall Dunn for a 69-yard touchdown pass.
“I’ve been pleased with (Gresh’s) progress,” O’Cain said. “I’ve been pleased with Mark (Leal). Neither one of them are even close to where they needed to be, but they’ve worked hard at it. And it’s just a matter now of we’ve got to make a hard decision, make a decision (on a No. 3 guy) and move on.”