Fall camp officially opened for the Virginia Tech Hokies yesterday, and while no one tore an ACL and Frank Beamer didn’t suddenly decide to retire, there was still plenty of interesting stuff happening here in Blacksburg.
Both Beamer and some defensive players appeared for us media folks yesterday, and they all had some pretty revealing things to say. However, not all of it was 100% clear, so I’ll do my best to help read between the lines.
“I’m concerned. Because I think when you come out here and you’re not able to work full tilt…We’ve got three weeks here and we’ll see where we are as we go through that. I know (head athletic trainer) Mike Goforth has got a plan as to how much work they should do and so forth, but it’s two really quality players that can’t do things full tilt right now.”
Beamer is referring to Tariq Edwards and D.J. Coles here, and while the two were able to participate in limited drills with the team, the fact that Frank will admit to being concerned about them is worrying. Coles is one of the more experienced wide receivers on the roster as a senior, so his absence is disturbing for a position that lost two beloved veterans in Danny Coale and Jarrett Boykin. He really emerged as a favorite target for Logan Thomas as the season went on, but the knee injury he suffered at the end of the year required surgery, and the start of the season is very much in doubt for him. Coles wasn’t available to the media yesterday, so it’s unclear how he’s feeling so far, but Edwards was around to give some insight.
“I’m pretty confident. As a linebacker, you’ve got to be able to cut and run side to side, and right now, that’s where all the pain comes in. If I can get that prepared by the time the first game comes, I’ll be ready.”
Edwards wasn’t expected to do much at all at the start of camp, so it was a little surprising to even see him out on the field at all. He says that most of the pain is currently in his knee, rather than the shin that he needed surgery on, and he remains sure he’ll be back for the Georgia Tech game. He stands to be the team’s starting “backer” and could potentially see some time at whip linebacker against more run-oriented teams. He’s solid in coverage and a decent blitzer, so getting him healthy as soon as possible is of paramount importance for the defense. Taking his place at backer is fellow linebacker Bruce Taylor, who is recovering from a foot injury of his own.
“It takes a while to warm up, but once I’m warmed up I feel pretty good. Maybe about 90-95% there. Right now, I could go. If we played tomorrow, I’d definitely be out there.”
Taylor is equally important to the defense, but he’s recovering from Lisfranc surgery that kept him out of six games last year. He was looking like a rising star before his injury last season, and his strength makes him an ideal blitzer from the “mike” linebacker position, so it’s good to hear that he’s starting to feel better. It’s inevitable that the injury will cause him pain throughout the year, but for now, he’s probably the healthiest starting linebacker on the squad. He’ll play at backer while Edwards sits out while Jack Tyler takes over at the mike. Tyler doesn’t have the coverage skills Taylor does, so it won’t be a perfect fit, but this arrangement should be fine through fall camp.
The offense will make their first media appearance on Thursday, but for now, the team’s first practice was both informative and revealing.