Brian Marcolini: Gregory has speed and quickness
Okay look, I know agreeing is not really in the Dual Perspectives rulebook, but I think we can both say that so far, the running game has ranged anywhere from average to abysmal.
Gone, at least this season, are the days of the Hokie bell cow back. There are no Lee Suggs, Kevin Jones, Darren Evans, Ryan Williams or David Wilsons in this backfield. Running backs coach Shane Beamer has had a heck of a season trying to figure out which back to put in the game, trying to feel out the hot hand.
I think it is safe to say that there needs to be one back who eventually garners the most carries. It is fruitless to split carries between all four running backs and the Hokies’ personal battering ram in Logan Thomas.
The question is: Who should get those carries?
The back needs to be a perfect compliment to Thomas, a speedy (sorry Martin Scales) guy who can also take it in through the tackles. Michael Holmes was given the chance to prove he can be that guy, but hasn’t shown it that much.
J.C. Coleman is a nice player and an explosive weapon. But can he be consistently productive if given 25 carries a game?
Eventually, yes. But this season as a true freshman? No.
That really only gives us one option. Tony Gregory has waited his turn, redshirting during Williams’ breakout season, then sitting behind Williams, Evans and Wilson over his first two seasons.
A quick back with a burst of speed, Gregory showed flashes of his athleticism on kick returns a year ago, averaging about 20 yards a return. He saw his first bit of serious playing time against Bowling Green, and he did something no other Hokie running back has done this season: run between the tackles.
He averaged more than six yards per carry last week, rushing for 68 yards on 11 carries and having two receptions for 20 yards. To me, that sounds like a guy you want to give carries to.
It really comes down to this — why not Gregory? He has never been given a serious chance to succeed before (39 carries in two years), and he looks like the best of a group that hasn’t particularly found success. He shouldn’t be discounted for what little he did in 2010 and 2011, but instead be credited for what he brings to the table in 2012 — an excellent change of pace from Thomas who can stretch the field, but also mix it up inside and is a solid receiver.
It may not have been this way in the past, but no one should be surprised if there is a lot more No. 22 in the backfield for the rest of the season.