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The Hokies' search for a lead running back suffers a blow when candidate Michael Holmes is arrested.
MATT GENTRY| The Roanoke Times
Virginia Tech tight end Ryan Malleck (88) heads towards the endzone for a touchdown past the defense of Der’Woun Greene (23) in Saturday's Spring Game in Blacksburg. (AP Photo/ The Roanoke Times, Matt Gentry)
MATT GENTRY| The Roanoke Times
Virginia Tech linebacker Deon Clark (40) celebrates with offensive guard Marcus Mapp (56) after the White team topped the Orange 27-9 in Saturday's annual Spring Game in Blacksburg.
Sunday, April 21, 2013
Saturday's Virginia Tech spring football game was hardly the triumphant offensive unveiling that many Hokies fans would have hoped for, especially the performance of the first-team offense
But it was, after all, a spring game, which is anything but a finished product.
Think it's unique to Virginia Tech? It's not. Alabama had nine turnovers in its spring game yesterday, and Nick Saban was in midseason form with his displeasure.
Here are a few more odds and ends to come out of interviews with Hokies head coach Frank Beamer and players:
Logan Thomas: Few would argue that the dominating storyline concerned quarterback Logan Thomas' struggles.
The rising senior, who was an All-ACC second-team pick as a sophomore, threw three interceptions, two of which were returned for touchdowns. Neither Beamer nor Thomas seemed too concerned about an off day, though.
Two of the three picks are probably on Thomas' shoulders. He tried to squeeze the first one in near the goal line to Demitri Knowles and Der'Woun Greene stepped in front of it. Later, he overthrew D.J. Coles down the seam, a pass reminiscent to his high and low struggles last season.
Receiver Josh Stanford took the blame for the second pick, saying he didn't cut off his route short enough, allowing cornerback Donovan Riley to make a break on the pass.
"I think it was some good defensive plays but plays that probably shouldn't have occurred offensively," Beamer said.
Thomas still finished 16-for-29 for 217 yards, numbers not aided by a number of drops, what seemed like a persistent problem this spring. Although his spring didn't finish the way he wanted, he still thinks his mechanics are better. Certainly.
"The ball came out of my hand great all day," Thomas said, who said that mechanically he feels better.
Offense in training? With a change at the top on its side of the football, the offense was somewhat hamstrung by a limited playbook, bringing up questions afterward about if the defense knew what was coming and therefore could more easily jump passing routes.
Players estimated that maybe a quarter of the playbook has been installed at this point. Stanford said even then, they didn't use the full scope of plays at their disposal, at least not as much as they had in other practices earlier this spring.
Beamer wasn't buying into the excuse that the offense was limited in what it was doing, though.
"You've got rules in a spring game, and the rules defensively was really pass rush of no more than four, so it worked both ways," he said.
Ground game woes: Running the football also appears to still be a work in progress. The two teams combined for 23 yards on 41 carries.
None of the first-team running backs did much of anything. Michael Holmes had seven carries for 24 yards (3.4 avg.), Trey Edmunds had eight carries for 11 yards (1.4 avg.) and J.C. Coleman, who was probably still feeling the effects of his ankle injury, had two carries for minus-1 yards.
Since the game, Holmes was arrested and charged with a felony. The outcome of that situation could lead to more doubt about the state of the Hokies' running game.
Edmunds probably still looked the best of the three. He had a couple of decent runs negated by penalties.
"I just tell [the fans], just keep watching," Edmunds said. "We have a lot to put in. We haven't put in a lot. So what we ran today was very minimal, so it's kind of hard to judge our whole entire offense for the whole fall off of just today."
Receiver drops: Beamer wasn't pleased with all the drops. He referenced Ernest Wilford's dropped two-point conversion against Miami in 2001 as an example of a play that motivated a player to put in hard work in the offseason, hoping this spring's struggles would similarly motivate this group.
"We've got some guys that need to catch about 100 balls a day," Beamer said. "Because they've got talent. We just need to be there every play and not be good one play and not so good the next."
Thomas knows the onus is on him to lead the summer workouts, when coaches can't give on-field instruction to players.
"It's going to be pretty difficult," Thomas said. "Honestly, we're going to have be perfect on what we know now. And once the fall hits, we're going to have to grind. It's going to be like no other fall we've ever had."
Defensive positives: All of the talk after the game has been about the offense, but the defense looked pretty sharp. The first-team group, as you'd expect, dominated the reserves, which mustered only 87 total yards, was 2 for 11 on third downs and managed just four first downs.
The Orange team also go on the board thanks to the defense, which got a safety on a botched handoff between Connor Jessop and Maurice Taylor. Defensive tackle Kris Harley was credited with forcing the fumble.
Other notes: There were plenty of former Hokies stars in attendance, including Tyrod Taylor, Kam Chancellor, David Wilson, Jayron Hosley, Brandon Flowers, Andre Smith, Jason Worilds and Will Montgomery. ...
Virginia Tech doesn't keep an official attendance number. From the media's perspective, at its peak, the stadium was probably a little bit less than half full. The West side was close to full and the East side was about two-thirds full at one point (and remember, fans weren't as tightly packed as a game). But one end zone section was completely empty and the other very sparse.
If Lane Stadium seats 66,233, a safe estimate would be that about 30,000 fans showed up.
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