Hokies in full pads for first time
By Jimmy Robertson
August 11, 2003

The Virginia Tech football team practiced Monday afternoon in full pads for the first time this fall as the Hokies continue preparations for the season opener on Aug. 31st against UCF. And the two-hour and 15-minute session left head coach Frank Beamer feeling rather agitated afterwards.

"It got hot and we lost concentration," Beamer said. "I think we've been reading the papers that tell us how good we are and we forgot about working and focusing. We need to learn from this."

The session featured sweltering humidity. It featured some turnovers by the offense. And it featured a general lack of concentration among some players.

Beamer was particularly angry during period No. 9 - the special teams period - when a few of the players were unsure of what to do as the staff worked on punting formations and the punt-block schemes.

"We're trying to do some different things with our units," Beamer said. "In our pre-practice meeting, we talked about who was supposed to be on the field and then some guys got hurt and there was some confusion. Maybe I didn't explain things well enough or maybe they weren't listening. But we'll get it straightened out."

Tech begins two-a-days on Tuesday morning. The Hokies will practice in shorts, jerseys and helmets in the morning before going in full pads in the afternoon.

"We've got some more hitting scheduled for the afternoon," Beamer said. "I think this practice stresses how sharp we need to be. We did some good things today, but we need to be better. We'll see what happens."

Other notes from Monday's practice:

Tech's first practice in full pads featured a smorgasbord of injuries. At one point, four wide receivers were injured, though Chris Shreve returned to practice after slightly spraining an ankle. Richard Johnson (quad bruise) and Robert Parker (toe) left midway through the practice and never returned. Johnson may miss a day or two. Defensive end Noland Burchette sprained an ankle and will be re-evaluated Tuesday morning.

The most serious, though, occurred to true freshman Josh Hyman. The receiver from Deep Creek High in Chesapeake, Va., suffered back spasms during a pass skeleton drill and Tech's sports medicine staff loaded him onto the back of a four-wheeler and immediately took him to the training room. He will be treated and re-evaluated Tuesday.

Tailback Cedric Humes (hamstring) cornerback Eric Green (shoulder) and Aaron Rouse (broken hand) all suffered injuries in Sunday's practice, but all of them practiced Monday. Rouse, in fact, practiced full speed, and Tech's sports medicine staff expects Green to be able to do the same Tuesday. Humes will see limited action for the next couple of day.

Bryan Randall's streak of not throwing an interception came to an end in the pass skeleton drill midway through the practice. Going against Tech's first-team defense, Randall threw a pass that was picked off by rover Michael Crawford, who would easily have taken it for a score if not for the whistle blowing to end the play.

That marked the first interception thrown by Randall since last fall. He went the entire spring and the first three days of fall practice without throwing one.

Also, redshirt freshman Marcus Vick threw an interception that same period. His pass was picked off by true freshman Corey Gordon, who made a juggling catch on the sideline and came down inbounds.

With Tripp Carroll, a freshman from Jacksonville, Fla., who enrolled this past January, out two to four weeks after undergoing surgery on his lower leg, redshirt sophomore Chris Pannell and sophomore Reggie Butler are the second-team offensive tackles behind starters Jon Dunn and Jimmy Martin. Pannell is working behind Dunn at right tackle, with Butler backing up Martin at left tackle.

Redshirt freshman Brandon Pace is giving incumbent kicker Carter Warley a run for the job in the early going. Pace has won two of the three kicking contests that Beamer conducts each practice (Nic Schmitt won the other), including Monday's contest. Pace - who also leads in the battle for kickoff duties - edged out Warley in Monday's contest.

"Both of those guys are kicking well," Beamer said. "These guys know how important this is. We're keeping count."