I haven't felt this out of the loop since I lived in Connecticut. For the last few days I've been unplugged. My office has temporarily relocated from my guest bedroom featuring a memory foam cushion office chair and MacBook Pro, to my new domicile which has tobacco stained walls, dust, and weathered windows. On an afternoon paint break I saw this text from French, "TELLER IS MOVING TO TACKLE," and initially thought he was just effing with me. Later on, I had indigestion when I saw this tweet while inhaling my day's timeline for dinner.
Football season is getting interesting, and while I love to watch the story unfold, I hate that it is due to injury. I remember watching Tony Gregory's catch-and-run scamper at the 2010 Spring Game and thinking to myself, "This kid's got good hands and a burst, he'll be a player." Unfortunately, ACL injuries got the better of a promising career. I hate when that happens to any kid, on any team.
With injuries to potential starters Ronny Vandyke (season, shoulder), Mark Shuman (knee, 4-6 weeks), and J.C. Coleman (ankle(s) plural, an optimistic 2 weeks), I think I would have been justified titling this post "WHAT'S GOING ON !!!!?!!1!" with the following contents.
Injuries are part of the game and Tech will no doubt embrace a next man up mentality. In an effort to fill out depth the coaches shuffled some positions. Chris Mangus and Jerome Wright were moved to tailback from wide receiver and fullback respectively. HokieSports.com said of Mangus and Wright, "[they] looked pretty good at tailback on Thursday. Both look natural at the spot, and both made some nice cuts on running plays." That's encouraging, but raise your hand if you wish Joel Caleb had a get out of jail free card. It's critical Coleman be ready to go against Alabama.
As I mentioned at the top, Wyatt Teller practiced with the big fellas in the absence of Mark Shuman. "Not many people can scratch their kneecap without bending over." That's what Liberty football coach Sean Finnerty said about Teller when I interviewed him last May. Teller's 6-5, 275 and he's an animal. The following is from the same interview with Finnerty.
I know everyone is kind of recruiting him as a defensive end, but when I saw him at tackle, I was like, "wow". How would you rate his footwork, does he have quick feet?
Great footwork, very quick feet! I was his offensive line coach, and defensive end coach last year, so he's had me for three years. I think he can be a premier offensive tackle if that's what he ends up going to. I think there's a chance he could get moved from a d-end spot to an offensive tackle spot. If he's not able to slow down how much weight he gains, it might be the best thing that's ever happened to him.
Jump to the 2:21 mark and watch him mash.
Don't think of this as, "Ugh, what's next, tight ends switching to the line again." Rather, this might be the shortest path for an extremely talented player to contribute on the field at a position he was built to play.
Even with Kendall Fuller's roll as the defense's nickel, an emphasized and important position in Foster's scheme, losing Ronny Vandyke is a tough blow. Refamiliarize yourself with how the coaches planned to use the two.
"When it's two backs and two tight ends, Ronny Vandyke's in there as the whip guy," [Torrian] Gray said. "When they've got three receivers in the game, get Kendall in there and you can still run your whole defense.
Vandyke figured to be featured in Bud's 4-4 to counter run heavy looks, but I saw glimpses of athleticism both in the spring and last season that made me believe Ronny wouldn't have to come off the field when the defense lightened the box—he could cover a receiver in space. He's a versatile player with a lot of potential, and it's a shame we won't get to watch him develop until next season.
As hard as Tech's recruited Whip these past few years, two walk-ons, Josh Trimble and Derek DiNardo, are the top guys respectively on the depth chart. French and Mason will both be at Saturday's scrimmage, and they'll be focussing on each of their play. I wonder if Dahman McKinnon or Devin Vandyke will temporarily slide outside to Whip.