Editor's Note: Bumped to the front because it's flat out fantastic analysis.
Scrimmage Two is in the books. And the only thing hotter than the sun’s reflection off the West stands’ metal bleachers was David Wilson. Number Four is something special. Going to wax nostalgic here but I’m glad he’s continuing the line of talented Hokies who’ve worn that number. My freshman year (2007) I bought a 4 jersey in honor of Eddie Royal and now Wilson is representing it well. I know you’ve all read and heard about his playful antics so forgive me for piling on. Full speed front flips during drills, barking like a dog at his teammates for five solid minutes, and singing at the top of his lungs are regular occurrences during practice. Through the two scrimmages he’s looked downright unstoppable. All of his carries have come against the second team defense but watching him drag Detrick Bonner five plus yards after getting popped once already gives you the feeling it doesn’t matter what string is out there. You can watch his 40 yard touchdown run on Hokiesports. He just simply burned everyone around the corner. Wilson led the team last year in all purpose yards with 1,437 (110.5/gm), as the third string running back. He didn’t return any kickoffs in the second scrimmage but I wonder if Beamer just wanted to see how Tony Gregory and Demitri Knowles would do back there. I’ll get to them later. I think if Wilson touches the ball at least 20 times a game in some capacity he will account for 2,000-2,500 yards.
On to the quarterback. Logan Thomas didn’t have a great scrimmage. Over threw some deep routes, under threw a wide open post route, and floated a ball into a non existent seam down the middle that Eddie Whitley intercepted. He seemed to be throwing off his back foot a lot and wasn’t handling blitz pressure well early on. On a positive note, later in the scrimmage he showed some elusiveness that resulted in the plays being blown dead. We’re due for some growing pains with him this season. The four opening games should be easy enough to get him settled in though. I think we’ll see a heavy dose of the run (crazy right?) with Wilson, Josh Oglesby, and even true freshman Michael Holmes.
Holmes seems to run a little hesitant at times while trying to pick a hole but I’m starting to wonder if that’s just his style. If you watch his high school highlights he doesn’t really try to burn it up field so much as pick the right spots and get tough yards. He took all of the goal line snaps during the good on good plays and looked fine for a true freshman. Another year of getting stronger and he’ll be a solid compliment/power back.
Oglesby didn’t have much room to run today, taking some carries up the middle. He fumbled on the goal line after getting rocked by James Gayle. However, Oglesby continues to blow up blitzing line backers in pass protection. That will be his biggest asset this year.
I doubt we see much of Tony Gregory. While he has the speed, his lower body isn’t strong enough to shake off the first hit. He was in for the goal line set of one offense vs. two defense and got stood up at the goal line with a full head of steam. He also fumbled. After Kyle Fuller picked up the fumble Logan Thomas delivered a pretty heavy tackle on him. It was good to see some fire from Thomas in what seemed to be a pretty laid back scrimmage effort wise.
However, two guys who weren’t laid back were Gayle and J.R. Collins. On two occasions the men in the yellow jerseys went down hard thanks to the D-Ends. Gayle blew by his blocker and ignored Mark Leal’s yellow jersey, popping him good for a sack. He walked away with his hands up seemingly telling everyone, “sorry guys I’m just ready to go.” Later in the scrimmage on a Thomas scramble Collins laid a heavy shoulder to his back sending him down. It’s easy to see that those guys are just itching to explode.
I continue to be thoroughly impressed with fullback Joey Phillips. He’s catching balls in the flat, making people miss, and then lowering a shoulder at the end of his runs. While Tech rarely utilizes full backs and tight ends for anything other than blocking it will be interesting to see if Phillips and Chris Drager catch some balls this year. In both scrimmages Drager has found a Danny Coale like hole in the defense, scoring a touchdown in the second scrimmage.
The first team linebackers had a solid day, as Telvion Clark led all tacklers with eight. I paid most of my attention to Jeron Gouveia-Winslow when the first team defense was on the field. In what’s typical of his whip spot he dropped into coverage on most plays but was never targeted. He came in free on a blitz once and had to respect the play action fake to Oglesby and was promptly up-ended. It was a quiet scrimmage for G-W (besides whiffing a tackle on Jayron Hosley while covering a punt but even the FBI couldn’t catch Hosley if they were the first one down the field). Per usual the secondary looked solid. These guys are simply really talented. Receivers were rarely open and they came up well in support on runs and short dump offs.
The receivers didn’t do anything special in the scrimmage, catching some short passes and screens. Boykin had a 10 yard pick up off a screen. We already know what we’re going to get out of the veterans. I think it would be beneficial to redshirt Dyrell Roberts. It’s not that he isn’t ready to play because he looks great and added some size. Just with Boykin, Coale, Marcus Davis, and then the tight ends and running backs catching balls I don’t see him reaching his full potential this year. Once all of the seniors are gone next year Thomas is going to need big time targets and Roberts can be that man. Then we could see Roberts, Davis, D.J. Coles, Knowles, E.L. Smiling, and the freshmen (Joel Caleb?) as the receiving corps in 2012.
I was very impressed with the punting today. Scott Demler looked solid and Michael Branthover was a pleasant surprise, booming some kicks. No need to worry about that spot any more. However, I am continually worried about place kicking. Cody Journell struggled badly early on. He drove a 50+ yard attempt into the line and then miss hit a 40+ yarder reminiscent of the same kick he missed in the first scrimmage. He recovered later nailing some attempts but I’m just uncomfortable with him trying kicks more than 40 yards out. We all know Justin Myer has the leg but will he convince Beamer to give him a shot with some longer kicks in games? The last two weeks of camp will tell. I wonder if we’ll see a repeat of the Boise St. game where Beamer just elected to go for it on fourth down if the field goal was long (hey, Boykin ended up shaking his man in the flat and walked in for a touchdown so maybe it’s not a bad idea). One last note about special teams is Hosley firing off the end of the line to easily block a short field goal. He’s a playmaker, but you already knew that.
The offensive line abused the second team defense while opening up some eighteen-wheeler sufficient gaps for Wilson to explode through. Give him an inch and he’ll take a touchdown.
I saved Leal for last because I’m excited about him. He led the second team offense against the first team defense and moved the ball. They had zero success running the ball but he was able to do it with his legs and arm. I don’t know whether to be concerned about this from a defensive standpoint or applaud Leal but he had some big gains with his legs today, sneaky fast. On deeper patterns the middle of the field was left wide open for Leal to scramble. This concerns me because App. St.’s quarterback DeAndre Presley can run. But there’s still two weeks to prepare and I’m confidant Foster will have them ready to spy.
So there’s a quick 1400 word stream of consciousness analysis from me. I apologize if it was a little negative at times but I saw what I saw. What do you guys think about everything?