August 16, 2014
Hokies hold first scrimmage of August
By Jimmy Robertson

BLACKSBURG – Virginia Tech’s offense rushed for 183 yards, and the Hokies’ first-team defense only allowed one touchdown in a 78-play intrasquad scrimmage on Saturday afternoon at Lane Stadium.

The offense scored two touchdowns on the ground, both by freshman tailbacks. Travon McMillian scored on a 5-yard run, and Shai McKenzie got in from 3 yards out. Tech’s quarterbacks combined to throw three touchdown passes, and the Hokies booted three field goals, including two by freshman Joey Slye.

“I thought it was one of our better first scrimmages of the fall,” Tech coach Frank Beamer said. “There was good both ways. Offensively, we had five touchdowns and one was called back because of penalty – and that one was going to be about an 80-yard run by J.C. [Coleman]. From a defensive standpoint, we gave up too many long plays, but we had some freshman kids in there. It’s a great video for us to learn from.

“I really like this football team. I thought the effort was great. We can learn from it. As long as you’re getting great effort and guys working at it, I think you can get better. I think we’ve got some things going for us. I like where we are right now.”

Tech’s three passing touchdowns came courtesy of three different quarterbacks. Andrew Ford threw a 65-yard touchdown pass to Deon Newsome, while Michael Brewer fired a 35-yarder to Willie Byrn. Mark Leal did a nice job running a two-minute situation, getting the Hokies to the 2-yard line and then throwing a fourth-down touchdown pass to freshman receiver Cam Phillips.

Most of that scoring came against Tech’s second- and third-team defenses. In fairness, those particular units featured a lot of freshmen and walk-ons, as a lot of projected second-teamers got bumped up to the first team because of injuries.

Eighteen Tech players sat out the scrimmage – most as precautionary measures – including projected starters Ronny Vandyke, Brandon Facyson and Detrick Bonner, along with key backups Desmond Frye and Dahman McKinnon.

“I thought our first unit played really well,” defensive coordinator Bud Foster said. “We were out our first- and second-team free safety [Bonner and Frye], so we played Chuck Clark back there in a pinch, and we played C.J. Reavis at our nickel spot. So we threw some guys in there just to see how we’d do.

“There’s a drop-off after our first group right now at some spots. At some spots, we’re better. At some spots, we need to get better. The effort was good, so I was pleased with that. We’ve got a young group, and some of them are seeing things for the first time, but I like that, most of the time, they don’t make the same mistake twice.”

Tech’s staff probably isn’t any closer to naming a starting quarterback. Brewer and Leal split reps with the first-team unit, and the three of them together combined to complete just 14 of 36 for 202 yards. More importantly, they only threw one interception. Leal threw a ball that probably should have been caught. Instead, it was tipped in the air and intercepted by Der’Woun Greene.

“We had some opportunities and made some plays,” offensive coordinator Scot Loeffler said. “Overall, we took care of the ball. The emphasis is protecting the ball, and for the most part, we did that. We made good decisions. Brewer did a good job of throwing the ball away and not taking sacks. He made some big plays, and Mark did the same. We’re going to look at the tape and hopefully get this thing wrapped up as fast as we can.

“We’ve had great competition, which is good. Mark has played much, much better, and Michael brings that experience. So we’ll evaluate the tape.”

Quarterback Brenden Motley (back) did not play in the scrimmage.

In the battle for the kicking job, Slye made field goals of 36 and 42 yards. His 42-yarder was on the last play of the scrimmage, as Beamer wanted to put him in a pressure situation, and Slye delivered.

Michael Santamaria made a 46-yard field goal early in the scrimmage, but hooked a 41-yarder. Carson Wise had a 23-yard attempt blocked by Kendall Fuller, and Fuller picked up the ball and ran 87 yards to the end zone for a touchdown.

“Slye was very good,” Beamer said. “Santamaria has been very good. All three of those freshmen are good. I think right now Santamaria and Slye are leading that battle.”

The Hokies continue practice on Monday. The staff plans on conducting another closed scrimmage on Wednesday and again next Saturday at the stadium.

The season kicks off Aug. 30 when the Hokies take on William & Mary, with the kickoff slated at 4 p.m.

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