BLACKSBURG – Quarterbacks Brenden Motley and Mark Leal both threw touchdowns, but Virginia Tech’s defense dominated the action in the third full scrimmage of spring practice at Lane Stadium on Saturday afternoon.
Tech’s defense recorded six sacks, 17 tackles for a loss and held the offense to just 106 yards in the 96-play scrimmage.
“I felt like our defense took a step forward today,” Tech coach Frank Beamer said. “They were having fun, flying around and being aggressive. Offensively, we’ve been taking steps, but I thought we took a step backward today for whatever reason.”
Tech offensive coordinator Scot Loeffler was a little more succinct.
“Two steps,” he said. “Our intensity was terrible. I’m really disappointed in how we walked out on to the field and competed. That hasn’t been our M.O. this spring, but it obviously was today, and I was very, very disappointed.”
Tech’s offense struggled to block end Dadi Nicolas and tackle Luther Maddy. Nicolas wreaked havoc all afternoon, finishing with 10 tackles, a sack and 2.5 tackles for a loss. Maddy recorded six tackles, 1.5 sacks and two tackles for a loss. Linebacker Chase Williams had four tackles, 1.5 sacks and two tackles for a loss as well.
For the first time this spring, Tech’s quarterbacks went live in a scrimmage. Normally, the quarterbacks wear a yellow jersey, which serves as a signal to the defense not to hit them. But in this scrimmage, the quarterbacks were fair game.
Leal completed 6 of 17 for 50 yards, with a touchdown, while Motley completed 5 of 11 for 46 yards and a score. Freshman Andrew Ford misfired on all six of his attempts.
“The art of playing quarterback is whenever there are people around you and in your face, and you’re making plays or not making plays, that’s a huge indicator,” Loeffler said. “That’s why you want to see it.”
Leal threw his touchdown pass to Carlis Parker, a 6-yard strike on the final play of the scrimmage. Motley threw a 2-yard scoring pass to tight end Darius Redman against the second-team defense on the third series.
Josh Stanford led all receivers with three catches for 40 yards, while Parker caught three for 24 yards.
The Hokies didn’t run the ball effectively in this one either. Tech’s longest gains were a 15-yard run by Motley on a keeper and a 13-yard run by Deon Newsome on a reverse. Spring standout Marshawn Williams rushed for just a yard on a team-high nine carries.
“We’re going to look at the video, but it looked like we played with intensity,” defensive coordinator Bud Foster said. “We played hard. Our tackling looked to be crisp for the most part. I thought we were improved.
“I really thought this last week I saw a lot of improvement, especially with the younger kids, and at some positions. Our end play has gotten better. Our linebacker play has gotten better, so that was encouraging.”
Tech did put points on the board through the kicking game. Michael Branthover hit a 52-yard field goal, while Mitchell Ludwig connected on a 22-yarder. Remington Hinshaw hit from 32 yards out. Branthover had a 22-yard attempt blocked by Wade Hansen, and Eric Kristensen missed a 19-yarder.
A.J. Hughes averaged 38.8 yards per punt on five punts, with a long of 46 yards.
Tech continues spring practice on Tuesday. The Hokies will hold their annual Maroon-White game next Saturday at Lane Stadium. Kickoff is slated for 2 p.m.
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