Martin still questionable for Gator Bowl
Gator Gator Bites Bites
December 31, 2005

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. - A horde of media gathered at Tech's practice at Jacksonville University on Saturday afternoon, and nearly all of them were looking for Jimmy Martin, and his back-up, Brandon Frye.

Martin, a 6-foot-5, 311-pound senior, suffered a sprained medial collateral ligament in his right knee in the next-to-last period of the Hokies' practice on Friday and remains questionable for Tech's Gator Bowl match-up with Louisville.

"It was literally on the last play of my last full-speed drill at this school," Martin said. "But I'm not going to dwell on that. Things happen. I can still play. It could be a lot worse. At least I didn't tear anything."

Tech trainer Mike Goforth said the sprain was a Grade 2 sprain, and how Martin progresses over the next 24-36 hours will pretty much determine whether Martin will play against the Cardinals.

"We can do some things as far as bracing him and taping him, and doing some things to alleviate the pain, but to get him ready to play in that short of time will be tough," Goforth said. "We'll take it day by day and hour by hour.

"The thing working in our favor is that Jimmy's played with some injuries before since he's been here. He had a high ankle sprain and he had a badly sprained elbow, and he played with both of those. He knows how to play with pain and play within his limits."

" I think Jimmy's got to be 100 percent," Tech head coach Frank Beamer said. "He's going to be going up against a pretty good player [Elvis Dumervil], and I don't think you can go out there and be 90 percent and be effective. You have to be 100 percent, and if not, then[Brandon] Frye needs to be in there."

Making matters more tenuous for the Hokies is that Martin figured to see Elvis Dumervil, the Cardinals' talented defensive end, for the vast majority of the game. Dumervil won the Nagurski Award as the nation's top defensive player after he led the country in sacks with 20.

If Martin is unable to go, Tech's staff will insert Brandon Frye, a 6-4, 302-pound redshirt junior from Myrtle Beach, S.C., at the left tackle spot. Frye would be making his first career start, and has played in just 13 games in his career.

"I've been watching a lot of film and I feel I'll be ready," Frye said. "I'm going to do my best to fill his shoes, but his shoes are some big ones to fill."

"Brandon goes up against the best defense in the country every day in practice," Tech center Danny McGrath said. "And with all due respect to Elvis, Brandon goes against guys like Darryl Tapp and Noland Burchette and Chris Ellis every day. Those are some of the best d-ends in the country, so Brandon should be fine."

"Brandon's a good athlete and he's been there at that spot all year," Beamer said. "There's not a lot of time for change or extra work at this point. We need to go with what we've got. I know Brandon's a good athlete and he's smart.

"I think a lot of times kids step up and answer the challenge better than people expect them to. I was watching that LSU game last night [the Peach Bowl] and that quarterback stepped in there and did great. That's what we're hoping for with Brandon."

Martin has started 45 straight games for the Hokies, a streak now in jeopardy. Neither he nor Beamer plan on putting him in just for the first play of the game to continue that streak.

"If I'm out there, I want to be out there healthy and effective," Martin said. "I don't want to play just to keep some streak alive."

"I'm into winning the football game," Beamer said. "Whoever gives us the best chance of winning every play, even the first play, that's who I want in there."

On Saturday, Tech practiced for 90 minutes before returning to the hotel and then heading to Jacksonville Landing for a pep rally. The Hokies will hold their team banquet at 7 p.m. on Saturday night, with all the team awards for the 2005 season being handed out.

The Hokies conclude preparations for the Gator Bowl with an hour-long walk-through Sunday afternoon.