The Hokies held their final open scrimmage last Saturday before their highly anticipated Spring Game this coming weekend.
For the coaching staff, it was just another step in the evaluation process.
“Overall, I thought our scrimmage was good,” said head coach Frank Beamer. “I think we’re really going to be able to go back and look at this and make a good evaluation. Some guys are ready to play in the Georgia Tech game.
“While I was out there, I just kind of felt that people were separating. It’s going to be a good day to evaluate.”
While the theme this spring has been the defense’s dominance and the offense’s inexperience, the guys on Logan Thomas’ side of the ball made a few strides on Saturday, but still aren’t quite where they need to be.
“It’s just taking time. We’ve got a lot of inexperience,” said quarterbacks coach Mike O’Cain. “We’ve got some guys that have played a little bit, but nobody out there other than Logan has played an awful lot.
“It’s better, no doubt. We’ve gotten a little bit better every day. But we’re still a long way away and real rough around the edges.”
Thomas’ stat line from Saturday wasn’t exactly pretty (9-of-23 passing, 91 yards, with four touchdowns and two interceptions) but he had his receivers drop around six passes.
His frustration showed at times, something his position coach knows is inevitable.
“I’m sure he (gets frustrated) to a degree, but that’s part of playing the position,” O’Cain said. “You can only do what you can control, and that’s what I talk to him about. You can’t protect yourself, you can’t catch the ball, all you can do is do what you do and let the chips fall where they may.
“And we’ll be fine, it’s just young guys, inexperienced guys. But you’ve gotta keep throwing the ball to them,” he said.” If you stop, they never will be good. So you’ve just got to hug them around the neck and build their confidence.”
Senior Corey Fuller had an up-and-down day, hauling in three touchdowns, while also dropping two passes that hit him right in the hands.
“I had the first catch that went for a touchdown, and then I dropped the two, and that hurt me a lot,” he said. “A lot of the coaches came and told me ‘Let it go’ my teammates were telling me, ‘Let it go’ and then I came back and caught the other two touchdowns.
“I wanted to catch every ball this year. And then it’s like, the last two times we scrimmaged in the stadium I had two mishaps. The last scrimmage I dropped some balls, this scrimmage I dropped some balls. It just hurts a little bit.”
With seniors Marcus Davis and D.J. Coles both recovering from injuries, and Dyrell Roberts struggling with a tweaked hamstring himself, Fuller’s been getting plenty of first-team reps this spring.
“He’s getting better,” O’Cain said of Fuller. “I look at him from this time last year to where he is this year and it’s light years. Is he where he needs to be yet? Obviously not. But, he’s playing much faster, and overall, he’s catching the ball better. He had a bad day today, but overall he’s caught the ball well.”
Another standout from Saturday’s scrimmage was redshirt-freshman running back Michael Holmes, who ran for 89 yards on eight carries, including a 60-yard touchdown run. Holmes has impressed the coaches throughout the spring and appears to be the frontrunner for the starting job come fall.
“He’s playing very well,” O’Cain said. “Mike is not what you would call a fast, explosive guy, but obviously he showed some speed on that one run. But he’s got a knack inside, he runs hard, he’s kind of an elusive guy. He reminds me a little bit of Darren Evans. I’m very pleased with him, in all phases.”
Holmes’ head coach hasn’t been surprised by his success.
“I said from the beginning, I think he’s gonna be good,” Beamer said.
“He’s kind of learning, but when he gets out there, he’s running away from people. And he’s a big body, runs with power, and a couple times I thought about turning him loose a little bit more. Overall, I think he’s been very impressive.”