BLACKSBURG – Tailback Jerome Wright scored on a 43-yard touchdown run and defensive end Ken Ekanem recorded two sacks to highlight the Virginia Tech football team’s first scrimmage of the spring held at Lane Stadium on Saturday.
Wright’s 43-yard run was the lone touchdown in the 46-play affair and came toward the end of the scrimmage against Tech’s first-team defense. The play was a bit of a fluke, as quarterback Mark Leal tripped while getting the snapped and flipped the ball to Wright as he was falling down. The defense hesitated for a moment, thinking Leal was down, and Wright burst through a hole on the right side and went the distance.
Wright finished with 43 yards rushing (on three carries), and the offense, as a unit, ran for 43 yards on 22 carries. Joel Caleb had 15 yard rushing on three carries, and Marshawn Williams had nine yards on three carries.
“I think always the defense should be ahead of the offense,” Tech coach Frank Beamer said. “If they’re not ahead at this particular time [of spring], then you worry. With our offense, we’re installing things and things are moving quickly, and we don’t slow our defense down in the spring. A lot of people play straight defense, but we never slow them down. They blitz and move. If one guy misses a block on offense, then it messes the play up. So I think the defense is ahead of the offense, but I’ve been pleased with both sides and how we’ve practiced.”
Brenden Motley paced the quarterbacks, completing 5 of 7 for 36 yards. Mark Leal completed 3 of 9 for 34 yards and an interception. Leal also had a couple of passes dropped. Andrew Ford misfired on his lone attempt.
“I’d like to have seen our pass game a little more exact,” Beamer said. “Sometimes, we were open and missed the throw, and sometimes, we didn’t get open. But I think that will come. As we go through spring, I expect us to be more efficient. It’s early, and I expect us to get better.”
Josh Stanford caught three passes for 40 yards to lead all receivers.
Tech continues spring practice on Tuesday. The Hokies will participate in another scrimmage next Saturday at approximately 11:30 a.m. at Lane Stadium.
Other thoughts and observations from the scrimmage:
• Tech practiced and had its scrimmage Saturday without two of its centers, and it resulted in a couple of botched quarterback/center exchanges. David Wang sat out the scrimmage with an ankle injury, and redshirt freshman Kyle Chung also is injured.
Caleb Farris got all the reps at center with the first team, but the backup centers included Jack Willenbrock, whom the staff moved from tight end, and Adam Taraschke, who normally plays as a backup at guard.
“We’ve got two new guys in there just trying to get us the ball,” Beamer said. “That starts the whole thing out ragged. These guys that haven’t snapped before are trying to get in there and snap and play the position … we’re kind of up against it right there.”
• Freshman Andrew Ford saw a few reps in the scrimmage and was sacked once and threw an incompletion on his lone attempt. After the scrimmage, offensive coordinator Scot Loeffler told the media what he saw on that particular play.
“I watched him on his first rep,” Loeffler said. “It was a typical freshman rep. He had a simple curl clear flat combination. He catches the ball [out of the shotgun] and his eyes were about as big as they could get. He should have ripped the curl. He got to find out how fast college football really is. It’s always fun watching those guys when they get they first live experience. It was a positive experience for him, and he’ll be better the next time he’s out there.”
• Marshawn Williams made arguably the nicest play in the scrimmage. On a particular carry, he got bottled up inside, but managed to break it outside. He had a nice 13-yard gain after he stiff-armed Kendall Fuller to the ground.
“I’m very excited about him,” Loeffler said. “He’s really grown on me. He’s shown a lot for a young guy. He’s intelligent. He just needs to keep going, but he’s doing some really nice things for us right now.”
• All the attention normally goes to the quarterbacks or tailbacks – and for obvious reasons – but Beamer singled out Stanford for his efforts this spring. Stanford had a great winter according to the staff and has carried it over to the field this spring.
“I think Josh has been the standout for us so far offensively, he and a couple of those tailbacks,” Beamer said. “We couldn’t get them free today, but the Williams kid and a couple of those guys have been pretty good. But Josh is very dependable and tough. He’ll fool you with his speed. I look for him to continue to develop.”
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