Under a cloudy sky in Blacksburg, Virginia, The Hokies were hard at work this afternoon, competing in an inter-squad scrimmage. For third-stringers, today was a big day in Blacksburg as the majority of the 2nd and 3rd string got to showcase their skills in front of 5,000 or so fans in Lane Stadium.
(Editors note: For a complete rundown of the scrimmage, please check out www.Beamerball.com)
Tyrod Taylor was sporting a bright, yellow non-contact jersey, which makes him very hard to miss out on the field. Taylor, however, struggled today as he threw 2 interceptions including his first pass of the scrimmage, which was picked off by freshman linebacker Lyndell Gibson.
Ryan Williams once again stole the show early on with an 82 yard punt return for a touchdown off the leg of senior punter Brent Bowden. Williams is by far the most elusive tailback I've seen in person since Kevin Jones.
The running back competition didn't really accomplish a whole lot today as Ogelsby only received a few carries because of a hamstring injury and David Wilson sat out the majority of the scrimmage with a non-serious shoulder injury.
Tony Gregory received a the majority of the carries and looked good for the most part. Gregory is a bit undersized at the tailback spot and seems to be a guy that could be a good slot receiver down the road.
Logan Thomas had a very good day as he went 6-14 with 128 yards and a touchdown. Thomas also tossed one pick but that came on the last play of the scrimmage while trying to throw a fade to the back of the endzone. After seeing both JuJu and Thomas in action today, I would have to think that Logan is probably our backup quarterback at this point.
JuJu was a bit more steady this time as he went 11-17 for 84 yards. That includes a string of 8 straight completions which is very encouraging from the young freshman. If Clayton can manage the game and just complete passes like he did today, I'm sure the coaching staff would feel a lot better about their backup quarterback situation.
Antone Exum, the true freshman, made a lot of noise today popping some receivers and getting in on a handful of tackles. Exum has a lot of promise and could develop into a helluva safety or cornerback here at Virginia Tech.
Senior Matt Waldron played well as he drilled 4 out of his 5 field goal attempts in the scrimmage. His one miss came on a 55 yarder that had enough distance but was pushed wide left. He connected on field goals from 42, 46, 28, and 25 yards out.
Freshman Cody Journell was the only other kicker to try a field goal and he missed a 33 yard attempt.
One day after having surgery, Darren Evans was on hand to support his teammates. Darren did receive some good news as he should be good to go for Spring Practice next year if everything goes smoothly. Get Well Soon Darren!
Switching gears to the defense as a whole, Coach Foster's group once again looks the part and is expected, in my mind, to be a top 5 defense once again this year. Other than depth at a few positions, this defense really doesn't have a weakspot that teams can exploit.
On the offensive side of the ball, I'm a little hesitant to buy into the kool-aid that has been passed around by other Virginia Tech blogging sites. Our offense looks like a more cohesive unit this year and with more experience on that side of the ball, we should be better. However, I don't think we'll be that much better than we were last year.
If we can get our total offense back into the top 70, that would be an excellent offensive year for this group, especially with the schedule we have this year. I do think we can make a big jump in 2010 and get back into the top 50 in total offense and maybe the top 30 in scoring offense since our schedule lightens up a bit.
But I digress... the simple truth is I am encouraged from what I saw today, although I'm not sold that this is a 14-0 National Championship team. If the balls bounce our way and we get a few lucky breaks this year, anything can happen but with 3 weeks of practice left before the first game, it's clear this team still has a lot of work to do.