With two weeks to go until the season opener against Appalachian State, the Virginia Tech football team did not necessarily play like the No. 13 team in the country during its scrimmage Saturday afternoon.
“I think we’re going to find that we’ve got plenty to work on here in the next two weeks,” said Frank Beamer, the head coach. “Our effort was good, and as long as you’ve got effort, you’ll get better. We had some long plays, both ways, and sometimes that’s good and sometimes that’s bad.”
See the photo gallery: Football Scrimmage
Starting quarterback Logan Thomas, who has impressed coaches during camp, had a slightly off day, completing just seven of his 15 passes for 73 yards. He added a touchdown strike to Chris Drager but underthrew Danny Coale for a costly interception.
“Like last week, I played good not great,” Thomas said. “I had the interception that I would like back, but I think as an offense we played pretty well.”
Highlighting the offensive portion of the scrimmage was David Wilson, who figures to carry a majority of the workload on the ground this season.
With the departure of Ryan Williams and Darren Evans to the NFL, Wilson will become the feature back in a system that consistently churns out star running backs. The fact that Thomas can just hand it off to a player like Wilson has him excited.
“He’s a heck of an athlete,” Thomas said. “He’s strong, quick. There are no words to describe him. I have no problem handing him the ball as much as he needs it.”
Wilson, who carried the ball nine times for 94 yards, is the only certain part of a running backs unit that figures to change over the next two weeks. Josh Oglesby, Tony Gregory and Michael Holmes will be fighting for carries, making it one of the few position battles on the team.
“Coming into the camp, coaches always want to see competition,” Gregory said after finishing the day with eight yards on seven carries, including a short touchdown run. “Right now as far as Wilson and Oglesby and me and Holmes, coach just wants everybody to stay on their toes.”
Although a torn ACL ended his 2010 season, Gregory did not rest, and is back to 100 percent.
“It was hard,” Gregory said. “I was just getting into the mix of things, starting at kick return, I was going to do a lot of things. It kind of set me back, but everything happens for a reason.”
DEFENSE STEPS UP
After allowing 398 total yards of offense in the first scrimmage, the Hokies got back to a little bit of “Beamerball” on Saturday.
Zack McCray and J.R. Collins each had two sacks as part of a defense that finished with 10 sacks, 18 tackles for loss and three interceptions.
“(McCray) had a really good middle drill here Wednesday, was really physical, played well,” said Charley Wiles, the defensive line coach. “I’m anxious to see him today (on film). I noticed he had some tackles on paper. I’ve just got to look at the video, but he had a good week of practice.”
Tech will try and improve a defense that ranked No. 52 in the country in total defense last season, down from No. 12 in 2009. With a soft early season schedule and a strong core group of playmakers, Tech fans should expect a lot from the defense.
Senior safety Eddie Whitley, who finished Saturday with six tackles and an interception, is part of a secondary that returns preseason All-American Jayron Hosley at cornerback. Whitley made a big effort during his downtime to improve his ball skills, something defensive backs coach Torrian Gray wanted to see.
“I came out here and asked for a ball machine, and I’m catching 50 balls a day,” Whitley said. “I would want the ball in my hands, just make it second nature. Today it was like, ‘The ball’s in the air. Now it’s mine.’ That’s pretty good.”
SPECIAL TEAMS TAKE SHAPE