On Saturday, Trey Edmunds ran 77 yards down the sideline and into the end zone, probably finding a way into the Hokies’ starting lineup.
Edmunds’ mad dash not only gave the Hokies a sign of life against Alabama, but more importantly, gave an answer as to who the featured back will be this season.
After the game, Edmunds earned the praise of head coach Frank Beamer.
“Each and every week I think he'll get better and better. First time he ever stepped on a college football field there tonight. (That was a) pretty good crowd he stepped out there against,” Beamer said.
Even with J.C. Coleman set to come back from two ankle sprains this week, Edmunds will likely continue to get a majority of the carries.
That’s not meant as a knock on Coleman, but in the past, when Beamer finds a back he likes, he feeds him the rock as much as possible.
In 2009, Ryan Williams averaged over 22 carries per game and in 2011 David Wilson averaged over 20. Both years, no other running back averaged more than seven touches.
It’s a small sample size, but it also looks like Logan Thomas will see a reduced role as a runner.
Last season, Thomas led the team with 174 carries and never held on to the ball less than seven times in a game all year.
On Saturday against Alabama, Thomas had only five attempts.
Loeffler insisted the option is ultimately dictated by what the defense shows Thomas, but with an improved offensive line and a more talented stable of backs, there’s reason to believe Thomas will let the backs do the running this season.
Coleman will still be a large part of the offense moving forward, but in a more unique role. Loeffler talked about how important throwing check-downs are to the offense.
“We should have had four more completions on check-downs that you kick yourself in the tail about,” he said. “And on the sack we should have checked the ball down, so it wouldn’t have occurred.”
Loeffler also mentioned that Coleman is talented in the passing game and there’s a role for him, but kept decidedly quiet as to what exactly it will be.
Also working into the rotation will be redshirt freshman Joel Caleb, who was suspended for the season opener. Despite having little experience as a running back, Loeffler sounded confident that Caleb could contribute.
“I think the switch to running back was one of the smartest things we’ve done. I think that’s his position in every sense of the word. So it’ll be interesting to watch him play for the first time,” Loeffler said.
Edmunds became only the eighth back to run for more than 100 yards against Alabama since Nick Saban arrived in 2007, joining the likes of BenJarvus Green-Ellis and Darren McFadden.
Not to say that Edmunds is guaranteed to be an NFL starter, but expect the Hokies to keep putting the ball in Edmunds’ hands, with Caleb and Coleman playing more specialized roles.