BLACKSBURG — The Virginia Tech football team opened the 2013 spring practice Wednesday evening at Rector Field House in preparation for the 2013 season this fall.
The Hokies practiced inside, as snow flurries, wind and cold temperatures made for poor practice conditions outside. Players participated in shorts, jerseys and helmets.
The practice marked the first for new coaches Scot Loeffler, Jeff Grimes and Aaron Moorehead. Loeffler took over as Tech’s offensive coordinator a couple of months ago, while Grimes is the new offensive line coach and Moorehead is the new receivers coach.
“Coaching is awesome,” Loeffler said. “It was good to get on the grass and see where we’re at. It was a typical first day – some good, some bad and some ugly. We’ve got a long way to go, but I was encouraged with the effort. We did some good things. We’ve got a lot of things to clean up. We were playing basketball today. We weren’t playing football. We were in shorts. As we go, when we get into pads, we’ll see where we’re at.”
Tech begins spring practice trying to find answers on the offensive side of the ball. The Hokies lost two starting tackles, their tight end, two receivers and a fullback. In addition, key parts like offensive lineman Michael Via and third receiver Dyrell Roberts departed.
Perhaps more importantly, Tech is looking to ramp up its rushing attack. The Hokies’ leading rusher a year ago was quarterback Logan Thomas, and while J.C. Coleman, Michael Holmes and Tony Gregory return, none are etched in as the starter. In contrast, Trey Edmunds and Chris Mangus, two freshmen who redshirted a year ago, are right in the thick of the battle.
“I think Trey is right in the middle of it,” Tech head coach Frank Beamer said when asked directly about Edmunds. “We need to figure out who’s who and what’s what. Having this spring and time to evaluate, we’ll have a much better idea of our running back situation and what order they belong in. The good thing about running backs is they’re athletic and can play other positions.
“I think we definitely want to have the pecking order. If certain guys don’t fit in, we want to see if there is a better position for them. We want to give them all a fair shot, but at the end of the day, we want to know which ones are going to play next fall and the pecking order.”
On defense, the Hokies lost just two starters – backer Bruce Taylor and whip Alonzo Tweedy – from the Russell Athletic Bowl squad. Tariq Edwards goes into spring ball as the top player at backer while Ronny Vandyke is the No. 1 whip.
Tech’s staff moved some players around to fill some backup spots. These moves include the following:
• Jack Willenbrock from center to tight end
• Dahman McKinnon from whip to backer
• Josh Trimble from backer to whip
• Nick Acree from tackle to guard
• Fuller Hoepner from tight end to fullback
• Derek DiNardo from rover to whip
On the injury front, receiver D.J. Coles (knee) wore the green jersey and practiced very little, while both linebacker Jack Tyler (foot) and kicker Cody Journell (back) wore blue jerseys. Tyler said his foot was fine and the blue jersey was just a precaution.
The Hokies will hold practices on Mondays, Wednesdays, and Fridays, and then scrimmage on Saturdays (though not this Saturday). Only one scrimmage is open to the public (April 6).The annual Maroon-White game will be played April 20 at 3 p.m. in Lane Stadium.
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