Well, the reviews are in, and it seems TKPers are (at the very least) tolerating Tech Tidbits after our first crack at this last week.
So we press forward, with more to digest from this week's worth of Hokies news.
This Sunday will mark three weeks to the season opener, and here's where we stand.
The Hokies Have "No Idea" If Brandon Facyson Will be Available Against WVU
That's the word from CBs coach Brian Mitchell, who told the media Wednesday that the senior cornerback is still nursing a wrist injury and confined to just "non-contact drills" in practice.
Word trickled out in mid-July that Facyson had a cast on his wrist, though Justin Fuente wasn't especially concerned about it at the time. It would seem the Hokies still aren't panicking, but it's not exactly excellent news that the Hokies may be without their most experienced cornerback against a pass-happy team like the Mountaineers.
If Facyson is indeed out when the Hokies head to FedEx, Mitchell surely does not lack for options — the secondary is far and away the deepest unit on the team this year (as it is most years), and Greg Stroman and Adonis Alexander are no strangers to starting, nor is Mook Reynolds.
Mitchell rightly points out that it's not as if Facyson needs a ton of work in practice, given all his experience on the field — he first started as a freshman back in 2013, which was your faithful correspondent's last full season covering Hokie football as a student, making me feel positively ancient.
Yet, considering Facyson's injury history, this latest setback should raise eyebrows. If Facyson only misses some work in the summer or perhaps just the first game or two of the year, his injury isn't much for the Hokies to worry about.
Where things become more concerning is if this nick lingers, forcing Facyson to miss significant time or simply hindering him enough that he's available to start, but not playing at full capacity. He's dealt with a bevy of injuries already over the course of his career, most troublingly to his leg and foot, which forced him to miss most of the 2014 season.
It's never fun to question a college kid's injury history, but it is at least worth considering that Facyson once thought he was healthy enough to play following a stress fracture in his leg, only for the recovery process to be a bit bumpy afterwards. One can only hope the coaches and trainers are cognizant of this as they work to bring Facyson back up to speed.
For his part, Mitchell adds that he's comfortable with the depth at the position with Facyson out, even namechecking young guys like Jovonn Quillen and Tyree Rodgers. And, look, the Hokies have a bevy of options at corner — Terrell Edmunds could always move back over from safety given his experience there (and the team's promising youngsters at the position) if injuries pile up, and Bud Foster is certainly capable of getting creative.
But the Hokies look a lot more formidable with Facyson on the field, and after he finished a full season healthy for the first time since his freshman campaign last year, it would be quite frustrating for the senior to close out his Tech career with additional injury woes.
Holston Leading the Youth Movement?
Mike Barber of the Richmond Times-Dispatch astutely notes that Fuente played six true freshman last year, and he's signalling an early willingness to hew to that trend this year.
He told reporters on Aug. 9 that he foresees WRs Kalil Pimpleton, Hezekiah Grimsley and Sean Savoy and LB Dylan Rivers all seeing the field this season, and he was talking up RB Jalen Holston, S Devon Hunter and TE Dalton Keene this weekend.
Some of these names aren't terribly surprising — with the depth situation at wide receiver these days, I'd expect just about everyone on the depth chart to get a look, even if they end up redshirting at least one or two of these freshmen — but the names that stand out as especially notable to me are Holston and Rivers.
In Holston's case, I'd honestly long expected that he could end up as the starter before the year is out, and this just adds more fuel to the fire on that count. I've talked to him a handful of times, and he's consistently emphasized how the coaches have talked to him about his potential in this offense and how he fits what they want to do — that's what pretty much every recruit hears from coaches to some extent, but Fuente and RBs coach Zohn Burden have been pretty consistent about stressing that Holston can be a RB to get involved in the passing game, and they plainly don't feel terribly high on presumptive starter Travon McMillian's ability to do that.
McMillian earned a total of just 13 carries in the team's last three games and he's only caught 23 passes in his Tech career. The guy can reel off some remarkable runs here and there, but I've repeatedly gotten the sense that Fuente is looking for a more versatile back in the role, and he seems very willing to give Holston a chance to do just that.
The Backer Depth Chart Takes Shape
Rivers' inclusion on Fuente's list is a bit more surprising, though not entirely so.
Right after he committed, he told me that he expected to learn behind Tremaine Edmunds at the "backer" spot so he could be "ready to play my sophomore year."
There are a few different ways to interpret that quote, but taken together with Fuente's early enthusiasm about Rivers, it sure seems as if the Hokies are planning on losing the youngest Edmunds to the NFL after this year (surprise, surprise) and are penciling in Rivers as the starter after that.
If that's the case, then it would certainly make sense that Rivers would get on the field some this year (particularly on special teams). Foster took this very tack with the backer Rivers would be replacing — Edmunds played 273 snaps on special teams as a true freshman before starting the next year — and that portended plenty of good things about his future, just as it may with Rivers.
Rivers flipped from Penn State so late in the 2017 cycle that it still seems a bit surreal that he's a Hokie, but look no further than this news as evidence of just how important it was that Fuente could convince Rivers to come to Blacksburg.
I leave you this with week with some words from Vinny Mihota on how the team is handling the Lunch Pail this year.
May cheesy coaching gimmicks never die. Until Friday, TKPers, consider yourselves all caught up.