Here are some observations from Tech’s practice on Friday:
• The big news coming out of practice was that receiver D.J. Coles has been cleared to do everything – no blue jersey. Coles, coming off a January surgery for a torn PCL, worked with the offense in every period and looked okay, but not 100 percent. Still, he continues to make progress and getting him out of the blue jersey was the next step.
He’ll be cleared to participate in Saturday’s closed scrimmage, but we fully expect the coaches to hold him out as a precaution.
• On the depth chart, freshman Deon Clarke has moved ahead of redshirt freshman Josh Trimble at the backer position, as the two battle it out to win the backup job behind starter Bruce Taylor. However, during the practice, Clarke and Trimble split the No. 2 reps, so we’re guessing defensive coordinator and linebackers coach Bud Foster hasn’t quite decided on whom he wants to be as the backup. Foster has said that Trimble needs to be more consistent.
• Ronny Vandyke and Alonzo Tweedy continue to be listed as co-No. 2’s on the depth chart at whip linebacker, but Vandyke keeps getting the majority of the No. 2 reps. There is a lot to like about Vandyke, who possess long arms on a 6-foot-3, 215-pound frame. But we’ve noticed that the redshirt freshmen seems more comfortable coming off the edge on a blitz than he does in pass coverage – and he’s pretty good at getting to the quarterback. That will be something to watch going forward.
• Freshman Brenden Motley worked a lot as the scout-team quarterback, giving the defense a taste as to what it will face against Georgia Tech on Labor Day night. Motley ran a similar offense at Christiansburg High School, so he and T.J. Shaw, who also ran a similar offense, should be able to give the Hokies’ defense a perfect look at what to expect from the Yellow Jackets.
• Redshirt freshman Michael Cole returned to practice and to his customary spot as the backup to Kyshoen Jarrett at rover. His return allowed sophomore Boye Aromire to move back into his customary backup spot behind Detrick Bonner at free safety. And as a result of that, freshman Desmond Frye did not get a lot of work during the practice. We’re getting that a decision on whether Frye redshirts this season remains very much up in the air.
• Neither defensive ends James Gayle nor Tyrel Wilson practiced Friday because of injuries, but rather than move redshirt freshman Matt Roth into the No. 1 spot, defensive line coach Charley Wiles moved J.R. Collins over to that spot. Collins had been behind Corey Marshall on the depth chart, but he and Marshall got all the reps with the first-team unit.
Also, Zack McCray got some reps at end with the second-team unit. McCray had been playing defensive tackle, but Wiles went with McCray and Roth at the ends and Kris Harley and Antoine Hopkins at the tackle spots.
Speaking of McCray, he’s quietly having a good preseason. He made a nice play on a bubble screen, hustling to the flat to get a piece of the tackle. Both Foster and Wiles immediately praised him because they have both been wanting to see McCray be a little more physical.
• Freshman receiver Josh Stanford, who is probably going to play this fall, continues to impress. Not just with his play, but with his work ethic and approach to the game. Friday, he didn’t do anything spectacular, but after practice, he grabbed a couple of footballs and had the punters punt to him. He hasn’t been working as a punt returner, but he wants to prepare himself for a future role. He was the last player to leave the practice field.
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