August 15, 2009
Hokies hold first full scrimmage of preseason
By Jimmy Robertson

BLACKSBURG – Matt Waldron booted all four of his field-goal attempts, Ryan Williams returned a punt for a touchdown, and Lyndell Gibson intercepted a pass to go with five tackles to headline the Hokies’ first full scrimmage of the fall on Saturday afternoon at Lane Stadium.

“Overall, I thought our effort in this thing and the hitting in this scrimmage was really good,” Tech head coach Frank Beamer said of the 78-play affair. “I thought we were aggressive and we were flying around. As long as you’ve got that, you feel like you’ve got a chance as a football team. We’ll see what happens from here on out.”

Waldron, who is starting to pull away in the battle for the kicker job, booted field goals of 42, 25, 46 and 25 yards. He got a couple of attempts because the coaching staff went for field goals any time the offense drove inside the 20. The reason – the offensive staff hasn’t installed all of the red-zone offense as of yet.

“I think he [Waldron] is the most steady of them,” Beamer said, referring to his kickers. “All those other guys are good kickers. [Chris] Hazley [who hit a 28-yarder in the scrimmage] is good and [Cody] Journell is going to be good. [Justin] Myer is probably the one with the most talent, but he’s just got to develop that consistency and I think he will. He’s gets the ball up quickly and he’s got the distance.”

The lone offensive touchdown came late in the scrimmage when two true freshmen got together. Quarterback Logan Thomas hit receiver Nubian Peak for a 30-yard score against the Hokies’ third-team defensive unit.

Thomas put up solid numbers for the second straight scrimmage. He completed 6-of-14 for 128 yards, with the touchdown and an interception.

“I thought Logan did some things well for the first time with the bullets flying and the defense moving around quite a bit,” Beamer said. “I’m sure there were a couple of throws he’d like to have back. But I thought he made a statement about his ability to throw the football, too. He made some nice throws.”

“It was a great experience, my first game in Lane Stadium,” Thomas said. “I thought it went well for me and the offense as a whole.

“I only know probably 60 percent of the offense. We’ve got more stuff to put in and I’m still learning the stuff we’ve already put in. I’ve got a couple of things under my belt, but not everything. I’ve still got a lot to learn.”

The quarterbacks, as a unit, played well. Ju-Ju Clayton completed 11-of-17, including a stretch of eight straight completions, for 84 yards, while Tyrod Taylor, seeing limited action, hit on 4-of-7 for 31 yards, with an interception.

Numbers were modest in the rushing game. Tony Gregory, who was moved to tailback from receiver after Darren Evans went down for the season with a torn ACL, led the way with 53 yards on 11 carries. Williams added 27 yards on six carries.

“I was impressed with Gregory,” Beamer said of the true freshman from Virginia Beach, Va., who enrolled this past January. “We moved him to tailback a couple of days ago and he really ran well. He sliced it up in there pretty good. I thought he was good.”

Williams had the only other touchdown of the day. He returned a punt 82 yards for a score early in the scrimmage.

On the receiving end, Jarrett Boykin led the way with four catches for 21 yards. Peak caught two for 33 and Dyrell Roberts caught one for 33. Randall Dunn caught a 48-yarder late in the scrimmage from Thomas.

Defensively, Gibson, a redshirt freshman backer from Virginia Beach, Va., was active the entire game, recording the five tackles, all assists. He also intercepted Taylor, jumping a quick slant, and he probably would have scored a touchdown had the staff and officials not blown the play dead.

Martin Scales, a walk-on whip linebacker, recorded the other interception. Dwight Tucker, a redshirt freshman, had seven tackles, and Steven Friday added five tackles and a sack. Cris Hill had five tackles as well, and Joe Jones and Jake Johnson also recorded the other sacks for the defense.

The Hokies resume practice on Monday and will participate in another scrimmage next Saturday. The approximate starting time for that one is 2 p.m.

Other notes from the scrimmage:

• The first-team offense and the first-team defense only went against each other for six plays (one series) in the scrimmage.

• Tech’s staff didn’t quite get the look at tailback David Wilson that they wanted. Wilson, the true freshman from Danville, Va., suffered a shoulder sprain early in the scrimmage and Tech’s sports medicine staff held him out of the remainder of the scrimmage.

Wilson begged to go back in, but the sports medicine staff said no. Then, he begged the coaching staff to let him go back, and they, too, refused. He may miss a couple of days of practice, but should be ready for next Saturday’s scrimmage.

He finished with just two carries for minus-3 yards.

• Four players did not participate in the scrimmage because of injuries – Bruce Taylor (hamstring), Eric Martin (hamstring), Josh Eadie (knee) and David Wang (hamstring).

• Josh Oglesby, who is No. 1 on the depth chart at tailback now that Evans is out, just can’t seem to get a break. Just when an opportunity to see a lot of carries comes his way, he tweaks a hamstring in practice a couple of days ago. He saw limited action in the scrimmage because of that injury, which occurred the day after Evans went down.

“It felt tight,” Oglesby said. “I wasn’t able to run full speed, but a lot of the game is mental, so I was picking up my assignments and just trying to get positive yardage any time I touched the ball. It was kind of frustrating.

“This is a great opportunity for me. It hurt my heart when Darren went down. He’s been my best friend since I got up here and my roommate on the road. I hate to see it happened. I know how hard he has worked to get ready for this season. But we’ve got to pick it up. We’ve got big plans for this season.”

• Beamer commented on Thomas’ promotion to co-No. 2 with Clayton and had this to say:

“Ju-Ju had one day where he wasn’t as sharp mentally as he needed to be and Logan had a good day,” Beamer said. “Every day is competition. All those guys, we’ll need to sit down and make some decisions. The quicker we can get working with the guys who are going to get on the plane to Atlanta [for the season opener on Sept. 5], the better we’re going to be.”

• Beamer on Evans’ injury:

“It just kind of breaks your heart,” he said. “Darren had put so much into it and I think he was on his way to a great year. I think he’s a very steady influence on this football team. Now, you’re back to playing guys who haven’t played very much, but that’s the way it is. Those guys, they need our support and we need to hang in there and keep them calm and get them ready to go.”

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