Under an overcast sky and the threat of rain, head coach Frank Beamer and his team held its annual Media Day inside Lane Stadium on Saturday afternoon with media members from around the state interviewing the 2013 staff and players. The rain held off, keeping Beamer’s streak alive of never having the event rained out, even though a few sprinkles dotted the field right before the team photo.
Beamer started the day with a press conference and of the 15 questions he was asked by reporters, more than half revolved around the offense, which has some uncertainties just three weeks before opening the season against two-time national champion Alabama.
“We certainly have a lot of question marks still on our team, it’s just how many of those can we get solved and feel good about before we open up with a team like Alabama,” Beamer said. “The other part of it is you realize how good they are. They are the best team in the country the last few years, the best team by a wide margin in preseason voting this year and it’s certainly justified. After that, let’s see where we are at and go play. It’s not often you get to play the best team in the country, so there’s some challenges in that regard. We just need to keep practicing hard and keep improving right now, day-to-day.”
Beamer is correct, according to The Associated Press poll, Tech has played the top ranked team just seven times prior. However, getting a chance to open a season against the defending national champions, that’s a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity, right?
Well, not for Tech, as defensive coordinator Bud Foster was able to point out.
“As a coaching staff, we aren’t new to this,” he said about playing the Tide. “We do have some question marks on this team. It will be a measuring stick for us. I know in 2004, it was a very similar year going into the year.
“We had a lot of question marks on both sides of the ball. We lost a really close game to a national championship team in Southern Cal with Reggie Bush and Matt Leinert and crew. We went on to win the ACC, so I think what this kind of game prepares you for is, you know you are getting ready to play a big-time football game … and you have a tremendous opportunity.”
With those questions, time and again, the answers seemed to come back to many unproven talents. At many key positions, the names of redshirt-freshmen or even true freshmen were coming out of the mouths of many of the players and coaches.
A few examples:
- Replacing an injured Antone Exum?
“We’ve got two outstanding prospects, Brandon Facyson and Kendall Fuller,” Foster said. “I’ve really been pleased with Kendall’s football IQ, his body positioning. He’s just very instinctive, solid technique-wise and has tremendous ability … Those two guys are going to continue to grow. They’re true freshman, but at the same time they both have a lot of abilities and I’m excited about their futures.”
- On the offensive line?
“Well, I think the inside three people on our offensive line are pretty well set, but who plays tackle, I think that’s yet to be determined,” Beamer said. “We need consistency and those practices for the tackles, we need to be more consistent there. There’s no question about that.”
“Jon (Jonathan McLaughlin) is a great player,” Andrew Miller said of the true freshman currently penciled in at the No. 1 spot on the depth chart at left tackle. “He’s got great athleticism and has natural ability to play football. And I know that he’s been working hard this summer and if it comes to it, I think he’ll be a great left tackle.”
- On the receiving corps?
“We are giving everyone reps right now at that position,” offensive coordinator Scot Loeffler said. “Coach Beamer has always said this and numerous head coaches that I’ve worked for said this ‘The farther you get away from the ball, the more chances a young guy has to play.’ I’m not going to ever discredit and say the wide receiver position is easy, because it’s not. But the farther you get away from the football, these young guys have a better chance to play.”
“I’ve said all along that those guys are pushing each other as hard as they can,” Logan Thomas said. “I think we’ve got a good solid five or six that we know are going to be our guys, but we need those guys to keep fighting for a spot to be No. 1 on the depth chart.”
- On the running backs?
“I think (Trey Edmunds) made some catches yesterday and some of the cuts he’s made, I’ve been impressed. He’s there and J.C. Coleman has been impressive. He’s a year older and more mature and I think he’s good. I also think the move of (Joel) Caleb is going to work out well and he’s got some capabilities with the ball in his hands.”
“They’re all just solid running backs, they’re just young,” Jack Tyler said. “They obviously need time to develop. I think you see that a lot with running backs in their second year, because they know the system better, they know the holes, they’re not guessing, they’re just running. I think that Trey and J.C. are much improved over last year and the spring.”
There are just three more weeks of practice and (after tonight) two more scrimmages to answer these questions before the Hokies face No. 1 Alabama on Aug. 31 in the Georgia Dome in the Chick-fil-A College Kickoff Game.
For updates on Virginia Tech football, follow the Hokies on Twitter (@VT_Football).