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Virginia Tech held their 2nd open scrimmage of the pre-season inside Lane Stadium this afternoon. This scrimmage featured a lot more work for the 1st and 2nd string units. Overall, both sides had their moments with Logan Thomas hitting on a few big pass plays and Michael Holmes scoring multiple touchdowns in situational work. If you’ve never been to one of these scrimmages, the stats will be deceiving. Each drive starts at a certain point and each team rotates in after a set amount of plays.
So, I wouldn’t take the stats seriously. Instead, I would look more at how each person played today and judge based on those reports.
There were a few players out today and that list included James Gayle (ankle), Michael Cole (concussion), Tariq Edwards (leg), DJ Coles (knee), Mark Irick (hamstring), Mangus (shoulder), Davion Tookes (hamstring), TJ Shaw (hamstring), and Ethan Keyserling (hip). Neither Gayle nor Cole’s injuries are serious. Gayle should return to practice in the next few days. Cole may be held out a bit longer because of a concussion but he looked fine going through pre-scrimmage drills.
Ok, now onto the good stuff.
* The big “ohhh” moment of the day came when sophomore Boye Aromire absolutely rocked Kevin Asante after the freshman from North Carolina caught a pass over the middle. It was a great stick by Aromire, even though it drew a personal foul flag, but it was an even better catch by Asante.
* Out of all the running backs, Michael Holmes and JC Coleman continue to be the most impressive. Holmes is going to turn some heads this fall and he’s well on his way to become a feature back in our offense. He combines good speed, vision, and quickness. He also runs with the most confidence right now. Coleman is still a little hesitant when he runs inside but when he’s in space, he’s one of the toughest guys to tackle.
* As it stands, I don’t see any of the freshmen on offense playing this fall. Joel Caleb was largely non-existent today, which tells me he’s headed for a redshirt. Josh Stanford caught two passes, from my count, but he seems to have hit that freshman wall. He too would be best served to take a redshirt. Trey Edmunds continued to impress but with so much depth ahead of him, he may travel with the team but redshirt if no one is injured in the first two games.
* Speaking of freshmen, Donovan Riley picked off a pass today in the endzone. We’ve seen Riley get burned a few times so far this preseason but the freshmen from Maryland responded after giving up an early touchdown, picking off Mark Leal in the waning part of the scrimmage. It was really a great play by the freshman.
* For those who have doubted our offensive line, they may be proven wrong this season. I really liked what I saw out of our starting unit. Logan had plenty of time to throw and Holmes had a few huge runs today. Nick Becton at left tackle and Vinston Painter at right tackle both would have graded out very high today if this were an actual game. I wasn’t able to pay attention to the interior OL as much but this unit played well today. Of course, not having to face James Gayle always helps.
* Sticking with the OL, the 2nd team is a bit of a mixed bag. Caleb Farris had a few bad snaps. He needs to clean that up before the season starts. That might just be a bit of nerves or lack of concentration. I think Michael Via will be an asset this season wherever he is eventually needed on the OL. He’s been consistent. The rest of the line had its ups and downs. Matt Arkema can get a good push but he needs to be more consistent, same with Mark Shuman and Laurence Gibson.
* Corey Marshall continues to get reps with the first string defensive line at end, which is our weakside defensive end position. Marshall has a great motor and it’s easy to see why he received a promotion. It also helps that J.R. Collins was late for a meeting but Marshall is really pushing to be the week one starter right now. I think he and Collins will be able to rotate this fall without much of a drop off. They both have been good so far.
* Kris Harley had the war cry of the game today, after he surged forward and completely blew up JC Coleman (I think it was Coleman) in the backfield for a 4 yard loss. He got up screaming a few words that I cannot recite back to you guys on this blog. Harley is a big guy in the middle and I think he’ll be in the rotation this fall at defensive tackle, especially now with Marshall at defensive end.
* After today’s scrimmage, I’m confident in saying that true freshman A.J. Hughes will be our starting punter this year. Hughes continued his impressive string of kicking today with a few 40-plus yard punts. Hunter Windmuller finally got one to turn over on his 2nd attempt but he shanked his first attempt out of bounds for about a total of 15 yards. Also, Michael Branthover looked good on kickoffs today. I think he’ll be our guy there.
* Cody Journell finished today’s scrimmage 3-3 on field goals. I think there’s little doubt that Journell will be our starting place kicker this fall. Brooks Abbott has a good leg but he could use some more development time before he’s forced into action. He shanked a 45 yard attempt this afternoon wide left but did make a shorter attempt earlier in the scrimmage.
* Lastly, it appears that Demetri Knows and Kevin Asante may be our two kick returners this year. Knowles returned a kickoff for a touchdown today, even though the play was actually blown dead once Knowles broke free. If this were a game, it would have been six points, easily. Dyrell Roberts and Kyshoen Jarrett were the two back deep on punt returns.
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