BLACKSBURG – Here are five observations from Friday’s practice, which saw the Hokies practice in full pads for the first time this August:
• The Hokies again dropped too many passes in practice on Friday, but the offense practiced without receivers D.J. Coles and Charley Meyer. Coles was in shorts and a shirt, taking a prescribed day off to keep his knee healthy, while Meyer was dressed in a blue jersey (limited contact) because of a hamstring injury. So younger and inexperienced guys like E.L. Smiling, Willie Byrn, Deon Newsome, Carlis Parker and freshly moved Chris Mangus getting a lot of reps. The staff moved Mangus from tailback to receiver on Friday.
• Offensive coordinator Scot Loeffler does a nice job of jumping on his guys when they make a mistake and then coming back and trying to build them up. He jumped on Carlis Parker after Parker dropped a pass on a crossing route that would have gained about 20 yards. But a minute later, he told Parker, “Stay confident.” After practice, he told the receivers he liked how they were working and how they were getting open, but they just need to finish the play.
• Looking for a candidate to fill Alonzo Tweedy’s valuable role on special teams? Try Der’Woun Greene, a backup free safety. Greene worked as a headhunter on the punting team Friday, and he can fly down the field. He also knows how to make plays in space. It’s early, but he appears to be a good bet to fill that role.
• Speaking of the punting team, four projected defensive starters – Jack Tyler, Tariq Edwards, Ronny Vandyke and Brandon Facyson – were working with the first unit, which underscores the emphasis head coach Frank Beamer places on that unit. Tyler was working as the personal protector, which makes sense. He’s the most dependable player on the team.
• In Thursday’s practice, Devin Vandyke, a redshirt freshman, was on the wrong end of Bud Foster’s anger after making a mistake in pass coverage, letting the tight end cut in front of him. But Vandyke made a nice play Friday on a similar pattern and knocked the ball away. Young linebackers often struggle in pass coverage, and it was nice to see Vandyke make a play just a day after making a mistake.
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