August 22, 2012
Observations from Tech's scrimmage on Wednesday
Preseason Camp 2012 Blog

Here are some observations from Tech’s scrimmage on Wednesday:

• Tech’s first-team defense played outstanding, but the second-team struggled at times because of some issues in the back end. That’s to be expected, though, because there are currently three true freshmen – free safety Desmond Frye and cornerbacks Donovan Riley and Donaldven Manning – on that unit, along with redshirt freshmen Ronny Vandyke and Josh Trimble. Getting five freshmen to play cohesively on either side of the ball is difficult.

• It was great to see Riley, the freshman cornerback from Reistertown, Md., intercept a pass after giving up two touchdowns last Saturday and a touchdown earlier in the scrimmage on Wednesday. He and Manning continue to play hard and work at it, and it’s good to see that effort rewarded.

However, defensive backs coach Torrian Gray understands the situation. The staff would have to scale things down in the secondary if any of the true freshmen were to be in the game.

“If we had to play and expect those guys to win for us, we’d have to simplify it,” Gray said after the scrimmage. “We couldn’t run our package the way we want. But they are getting better. It’s just a process. In time, all those guys are going to be good players.”

Kyle Fuller didn’t have the greatest of days. He jumped offsides as the offense was lined up to attempt a field goal, giving the offense a first down. The offense then scored the lone touchdown allowed by the first-team defense just a few plays later. Fuller also got flagged for pass interference.

But he made a great play midway through the scrimmage when he tackled J.C. Coleman in the open field. Tackling Coleman is like trying to tackle the wind, but Fuller got him to the ground. Fuller is just an outstanding tackler.

Demitri Knowles got some work as a kickoff returner in the scrimmage, and he would have scored on a 100-yard return except that the coaches blew the whistles just as he broke into the open field. He also had a 24-yard run on a reverse.

When Knowles gets a seam, he is fun to watch. He can fly. He reminds us of André Davis, with those long strides and that extra gear. But the coaches want to see Knowles get a little tougher.

• It looked as though Tech’s offensive staff wanted to get the tight ends involved in this scrimmage, and those guys delivered. Eight of the 23 receptions in the scrimmage were made by the tight ends, with Duan Perez-Means, Eric Martin and Randall Dunn each catching two.

• Offensive lineman Caleb Farris had been playing well the past few practices, but the backup center didn’t have one of his better days. His snaps in the shotgun formation were low, throwing the timing of those plays off, and a couple of snaps hit the ground before reaching Mark Leal. A botched quarterback/center exchange near the goal line on the final series appeared to frustrate head coach Frank Beamer, who decided to end the scrimmage at that point.

That said, Farris – a sophomore – is going to be a good player. He’ll work on those snaps and get better.

Boye Aromire made an incredible hit on receiver Kevin Asante in the scrimmage. Asante went over the middle and caught the ball before getting nailed by Aromire. Asante, to his credit, held on to the ball and bounced right up. Aromire received a flag – not sure if he led with the helmet – but we thought the hit was legit.

• We continue to be impressed with walk-on rover Greg Jones, who was all over the field. The freshman led everyone with six tackles (five solo) and forced a fumble. But what stood out was that he played with emotion and passion. After the scrimmage, head coach Frank Beamer said his team looked like a team in the middle of preseason – a little sluggish – but Jones was anything but sluggish.

For updates on Virginia Tech football, follow the Hokies on Twitter (@VT_Football).

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