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April 20, 2013
Defensive touchdowns highlight Tech's spring game
By Jimmy Robertson
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BLACKSBURG – Virginia Tech’s White team defense returned two interceptions for touchdowns to lead the White team to a 27-9 victory over the Orange squad in the annual spring game held at Lane Stadium on Saturday afternoon.

The White team, comprised mostly of backups, was spotted 13 points in the scrimmage and made it stand, as the Hokies concluded spring football practice.

“Defensively, we’ve got a chance to be very good,” Tech coach Frank Beamer said. “We’ve got to keep working and keep improving. I think that showed today. Kicking wise, I think we’ll be very good. We’ve got good kickers and good return guys. We didn’t see much in returns today, but I think that can be a big part of our game.

“Offensively, we’ve got to get more consistent. We’ve heard that before, but in catching the balls … you drop a ball and it kills a drive, and then blocking up front. I can tell you there’s more to our offense than we showed today, but we also started out trying to get a good foundation, and I think we’ve done that. I thought there would be more running plays that would pop for more yardage today.

“It’s going to be interesting to go back and look at this video and see who did what and how they did it, and so forth. We’ve got to function more, and part of that is evaluating. We played a lot of guys, but there aren’t going to be a lot of guys that line up against Alabama. We’ve got to determine who those guys are, let’s play better and be more consistent. I think that’s where our football team is.”

It was an up-and-down day for the Orange offense, which amassed 297 yards. Quarterback Logan Thomas started for the Orange squad and completed 16 of 29 for 214 yards, but he threw three interceptions, including two that were returned for touchdowns.

Thomas’ first interception came on the Orange’s first possession of the game. He led the Orange to the White 4 after a 57-yard pass to receiver Joshua Stanford. But three straight running plays netted a loss of 2 yards, and Tech’s staff elected to go for it on fourth down from the 6.

Thomas tried to hit Demitri Knowles on a slant, but backup safety Der’Woun Greene stepped in and intercepted the pass. Greene, a redshirt freshman, sprinted 98 yards to the end zone for the first touchdown of the game. Brooks Abbott’s extra point gave the White squad a 20-0 lead.

The play was a continuation what Greene has done this spring – make big plays – since moving from corner to safety at the start of spring practice.

“It was different, but I played safety in high school, so it was just a matter of getting back into it,” Greene said. “It was just a matter of working hard and grinding this spring, and Coach (Torrian Gray) kept telling me to play my game. That’s what I did.

“At the start of spring, I was kind of slow. But toward the end, I think I played kind of good. I think they’ve (the coaches) got a good idea of what I can do.”

Thomas threw his second interception came on the next possession. On that one, backup cornerback Donovan Riley stepped in front of a pass intended for Stanford and returned it 53 yards for a touchdown. Abbott’s extra point gave the White team a 27-0 bulge.

“That was my fault,” Stanford said of the interception. “I was supposed to go underneath the cornerback, but the cornerback squatted because he knew it was coming, and I went over the top. But by then, Logan had already thrown the ball because he’s expecting me to go underneath. He threw the ball where he was expecting me to be. As a young receiver, I need to find a way to get underneath when the cornerback is squatting like that. As receivers, we all need to get on the same page.”

Thomas’ third interception came in the second quarter when he and receiver D.J. Coles seemed to be on the wrong page. His pass was picked off by safety T.J. Shaw.

The Orange team got on the board when defensive tackle Kris Harley stripped walk-on tailback Maurice Taylor of the ball deep in the White team’s territory. Taylor recovered the ball, but was in the end zone, and the Orange team received a safety as a result.

The Orange team’s lone touchdown came in the third quarter when Mark Leal threw a 30-yard scoring strike to tight end Ryan Malleck. The play highlighted a big game for Tech’s tight ends, as Malleck caught three passes for 45 yards and Zack McCray hauled in four passes for 65 yards.

Stanford caught three passes for 86 yards, including the 57-yarder, while J.C. Coleman caught three passes and Demitri Knowles hauled in two.

Brian Rody and Connor Jessop split reps for the White team at quarterback. Rody completed 5 of 11 for 62 yards, while Jessop completed 4 of 7 for 25 yards.

Neither team mounted much of a rushing attack. Michael Holmes led all rushers with 24 yards on seven carries.

“I think we’ve played better football this spring,” Stanford said. “Some days, we’d have good offensive days. Some days, we’d have bad offensive days. Some days, we’d have all right offensive days.

“I feel, as an offense, that we have to work on our stuff every day this summer to get comfortable so that we can consistently do the things we want to do. We can do it sometimes, but not all the time, and when you play a team like Alabama, you may only get one chance. You may only get this coverage once, or this play is only going to work once. I feel like we need to work hard to get the consistency we want.”

Tech now will spend the summer preparing for its season opener against Alabama in Atlanta on Aug. 31. Kickoff is slated for 5:30 p.m.

Here are the 2013 Spring Football Award Winners, as determined by the Hokies’ coaching staff:

Paul Torgersen Award (presented to the top newcomers during spring practice)

Offense – Jonathan McLaughlin; Defense – Brandon Facyson

President's Award (given to the players who demonstrate the most outstanding leadership during the offseason program and spring workouts)

Offense – J.C. Coleman; Defense – Kyle Fuller

Dr. Richard Bullock Award (goes to the players who show the most improvement during spring workouts)

Offense – Laurence Gibson; Defense – Dadi Nicolas

Frank O. Moseley Award (awarded to the offensive and defensive players who exhibit the most hustle during the offseason and spring workouts)

Offense – Trey Edmunds and Charley Meyer; Defense – Kyshoen Jarrett

Coaches Award (goes to the players who had an exceptional spring)

Offense – Ryan Malleck; Defense – Detrick Bonner and Luther Maddy

George Preas Award (presented to the most valuable performers of spring practice)

Offense – Logan Thomas; Defense – James Gayle

Don Williams TEAM UNITED Award (presented to an offensive and defensive player who put the team first during spring workouts)

Offense – Andrew Miller; Defense – Derrick Hopkins

For updates on Virginia Tech football, follow the Hokies on Twitter (@VT_Football).

For updates on the Hokies, follow Jimmy Robertson on Twitter (@jrobIHS).

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