Look, I've got a lot to say about what went wrong against Delaware, what to expect against ECU, the Tavante Beckett suspension and more.
But rather than boring you with all that first, let's just get right to the good stuff.
Inject this tweet straight into my veins. If you're telling me we've managed to replace A.J. Hughes with not only a good punter, but a great quote, I will be over the moon.
Let's hope Justin Fuente, James Shibest and company let Oscar keep being a little weird. Wyatt Teller seems to be on strict orders not to say anything interesting these days, and we deserve someone with fun quotes every once in awhile.
Now, onto business.
Next Man Up at Mike
By now, you've all seen the news that LB Tavante Beckett is suspended from the team indefinitely. Now, the question is what that means for the future.
For the moment, at least, it seems as if the coaches aren't counting him out of their plans entirely.
But Foster deferred to Fuente for the final say Tuesday, and without knowing what prompted Beckett's suspension, it's impossible to know how realistic it is to expect him back — before you ask: yes, I've checked the Montgomery County court records, and no, Beckett's name hasn't popped up there.
So, we have to do a little guess work about what the future holds at the mike linebacker position. Beckett certainly factored into any discussion about who should spell Andrew Motuapuaka (even though he didn't play terribly much in the Hokies' first two games) and even replace him at mike someday.
As you might expect, Foster says Sean Huelskamp is the number two guy behind Motuapuaka right now (and he even told reporters that he's playing both mike and backer in practice right now, which is at least a mild surprise).
"We do have some young guys that are in position to play, particularly Rayshard Ashby at the mike spot," Foster said, via Andy Bitter of the Roanoke Times. "I really like him. I like his football IQ. I like how he plays. He really performed well in our scrimmages and he's playing right now with the idea that he can play and be ready to play as we move forward in the future. And I think you'll see more potential play out of Dylan Rivers, who really hasn't gotten in a ballgame as of yet. But I think we're kind of bringing him along with the idea that he's going to be thrown into the fire here sooner than later, probably. But I think we're going to go ahead and look at potentially him on special teams too."
None of that is particularly noteworthy, though it is interesting that Foster add that Beckett's absence is "not necessarily" something that will factor into his future plans at mike. I've speculated before that Rivers might be the best fit at the backer spot, but perhaps if Rivers gets in on the action at mike some this year (and Beckett doesn't return to the team) then his future lies there instead.
For now, I suppose all we can do is knock on wood and hope Moto stays healthy. No disrespect to Huelskamp and Ashby, but neither has what I'd call overwhelming size, and I'd certainly prefer Motuapuaka's experience in that role while the team sorts out the Beckett situation.
Long Live Vinny Mihota, Defensive Tackle
Well, consider those Vinny Mihota-to-DT rumors not just alive, but quite well, with Foster addressing his starting defensive end's brief slide inside.
"He's probably our third best tackle when it's all said and done," Foster told reporters. "I think he was very active and productive whether he was at end or tackle."
Yikes. Foster added that Jarrod Hewitt was improved and "could be the next guy," but also "we are still going with that backup part by committee." He shouted out Xavier Burke and Darius Fullwood, and called Jimmy Taylor trustworthy yet "rugged," so clearly there is work left to be done here.
I wonder how much of Mihota spending time at DT was just a function of the opponent (no shots at Delaware, but a zero is a zero scoreboard-wise) and the team wanting to see if Mihota would indeed be a viable option there if worst comes to worst, or if this is a real sign that we're going to see him on the inside going forward.
If it's the latter, then perhaps this is a big old wake-up call to Tech's backup DTs (and a sign of confidence in the backup DEs, with Emmanuel Belmar, Houshun Gaines and Ray Minor all earning snaps against the Blue Hens).
Only time will tell (and with ECU's struggles, we may need to keep an eye on this for more than just next week for answers).
Running Back Rotation Meditations
I thought about devoting a little extra space to a look at ECU, but others on the beat have handled that ably — long story short, it's never great when you fire your defensive coordinator and are playing two quarterbacks (one of whom is injured), no matter how many nice things the coaches say about them.
Instead, I'll pause for a moment to highlight how the Hokies managed their running back rotation a bit against Delaware, because the stat sheet certainly stood out to me upon closer examination (and a few days removed from the frustrations of the game, ACC Network-related and otherwise).
It's not exactly shocking that Travon McMillian and Steven Peoples only accounted for seven of the team's 28 carries, considering the opponent and some of Peoples' issues in pass protection, which French detailed.
Instead, it's worth noting that Deshawn McClease only earned three carries (for a whopping seven yards) while true freshman Jalen Holston picked up eight for 32. That made him the team's rushing leader — though that figure comes with the huge caveats that all of those carries came in the fourth quarter, and all but one came on the team's final drive to run out the clock.
But after McClease's early flashes of brilliance against West Virginia, it's worth highlighting that Fuente clearly still envisions Holston playing some sort of role this season.
It'll be tough for all four running backs to consistently find a role in the offense, and maybe this is simply a chance to get Holston ready for a bigger role next year. But I remain intrigued by just how the freshman might fit into the mix this year, and if the team can avoid its very long history of road struggles against ECU, perhaps we'll have another opportunity to see Holston at work this Saturday.
I leave you with a little more BRADBURN, who I'm imagining said this in the thickest Australian accent possible.