Here are five observations from Tech’s Tuesday practice:
• Rover Kyshoen Jarrett enjoyed what we thought was his best practice so far. In the pass skeleton drill – again, this is the receivers and running backs running routes against the linebackers and secondary (no linemen) – Jarrett made a nice play in the flat where he broke up a pass. Then, a few moments later, he did a nice job of staying with tight end Randall Dunn down the middle to prevent a big play. After that play, Bud Foster gave Jarrett a fist bump.
Jarrett possesses the physical skills. On Tuesday, he was in the right spot, and he made the plays. For the rest of practice, he played with confidence – and played well.
• Ronny Vandyke was moved up on the depth chart at whip linebacker. He now shares the No. 2 spot with Alonzo Tweedy. On Tuesday, he showed why. The redshirt freshman was all over the field. He played well in coverage and was a force in the running game.
His best two plays came in the final period – a team period in which the offense goes against the defense, but the defenders only wrap up the ball carriers instead of tackling to the ground. He blitzed on one occasion, dodging a blocker and forcing the quarterback to release the ball early. Moments later, he nailed a ball carrier, and even though he didn’t bring the ball carrier to the ground, he broke his own helmet.
Vandyke is going to be a really good player and not just because of his physical skills. He really works at it.
• Cody Journell won the kicking competition Tuesday, as the kickers kick from various distances and angles, but that comes as no surprise. Some of the younger candidates are struggling with the volume of kicking in practices. Freshman Brooks Abbott, who has exhibited a strong leg in the early going, is battling a hip flexor injury, and so, too, is Ethan Keyserling.
But Journell’s leg appears stronger than ever. He’s showing more consistency from beyond 40 yards, and that, combined with his experience, is enabling him to distance himself from the others.
• Tony Gregory blocked a punt during the special teams period, and you hope to see more of that in the future. Gregory is fast and has long arms, and blocking punts could be the niche for this young man, who has battling so many injuries in his career. Remember, he blocked a punt last season against Appalachian State.
Tech certainly is putting in the work on punting and punt blocking. The Hokies have worked on that in every single practice so far.
• Some of Tech’s young offensive linemen showed flashes in the middle drill – where the offense faces the defense without receivers and defensive backs. Brent Benedict and Caleb Farris, in particular, are two powerful young men, and Tuesday, both played physical in the middle drill, though not always blocking the right person.
We’ve seen very little of Farris at right guard so far. It makes sense, though, to get him as many reps as possible at center before moving him around.
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