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Wednesday, September 4, 2013
BLACKSBURG — Aaron Moorehead and a few of his players weren’t on time for post-practice interviews Tuesday.
The Virginia Tech coach was busy having all of his receivers catch balls on a JUGS machine, hoping to erase any lingering effects from Saturday’s drop-filled 35-10 loss to Alabama.
“No, it was not optional,” Moorehead said.
The Hokies’ receiving corps had a forgettable opener, saddled with six dropped passes as a final tally, although a few more makeable plays were on the borderline.
Hence the extra catching practice. Moorehead fed ball after ball to a line of receivers at a distance of about 5 to 10 feet. He set the speed at 40 mph.
“Prelim today,” he said, saying they’d do it the rest of the year.
The receivers were a big part of quarterback Logan Thomas’ 5-for-26, 59-yard day.
In addition to the drops, there were a few poorly run routes. D.J. Coles ran a one-step route instead of three that led to the interception returned for a touchdown by Alabama’s Vinnie Sunseri.
Demitri Knowles, making his fourth career start, had four of Tech’s drops. Moorehead held him out of interviews Tuesday.
“He needs to move forward. Period, end,” Moorehead said. “I didn’t need this for him.”
In his first game as a full-time assistant, Moorehead needed to clear his mind after the game. He re-watched it on the flight home from Atlanta, then tossed and turned that night, unable to sleep.
The first step for Tech’s receivers’ rebounding is maintaining Thomas’ trust.
“You tell him, ‘Look, we’re going to make that play next time. Don’t lose faith in us. Continue to come to us, throw the ball to us. We’re going to make that play for you,’ ” Coles said.
The Hokies get some help this week. Reserve Charley Meyer, who missed the opener with a hamstring injury, is expected to play.
Moorehead didn’t mince words, though. He said everyone, even a veteran like Coles, needs to make plays.
“To be honest, if he’s not, we’ll find someone that will,” Moorehead said. “And he knows that.”
When injured cornerback Antone Exum went on the Tech Talk Live radio show Monday night and said he hoped to be back some for the Hokies’ game against Marshall on Sept. 21 and for sure by the Georgia Tech ACC opener Sept. 26, it caught a few people off guard.
“That was news to me,” head athletic trainer Mike Goforth said. “That’s wishful thinking and I applaud his determination, but I don’t think I could quite say that yet.”
Goforth said nothing has changed with Exum’s timetable to return from offseason ACL and microfracture surgery in his knee. The senior will undergo functional tests Wednesday, and Goforth will record some of his work on the field and send it to Exum’s surgeon, Dr. James Andrews, who will make a determination about his future.
Exum has a return appointment with Andrews somewhere from Oct. 5 to 13, but Goforth said if he does well enough in Wednesday’s tests, they could move that up.
In other injury news, reserve offensive lineman Mark Shuman, who had his knee scoped 2½ weeks ago, should be ready to play this week. Tech could have used him in an emergency last week.
Running back J.C. Coleman, who missed the opener with a high left ankle sprain, is dealing with some plantar fasciitis in his right foot, but Goforth was optimistic he’ll play Saturday against Western Carolina.
Manning to Marshall
Cornerback Donaldven Manning, who left the football program at the beginning of August, has transferred to Marshall.
The former four-star recruit from Miami, Fla., appeared on the Thundering Herd’s roster Tuesday, less than a month after deciding to leave the Virginia Tech program. He’ll have to sit out this year, per NCAA transfer rules.
The sophomore had been passed by true freshmen Kendall Fuller and Brandon Facyson on the depth chart with the Hokies.
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