***Virginia Tech linebacker Tariq Edwards will not play in the season opener, Hokies coach Frank Beamer said during his teleconference Monday.
Edwards, who had offseason surgery to repair a stress fracture in his leg, has been slow to recover during training camp. He had a recent follow up procedure to remove a screw that was causing discomfort in his knee and told reporters Saturday he is making progress.
He said he could be ready in time for Tech’s second game against Austin Peay next Saturday, but a more realistic timetable for his return may be the Sept. 15 game at Pittsburgh.
***Beamer said he has a lot of confidence in senior offensive lineman Michael Via, who has playing experience at center, guard and tackle for the Hokies.
He may even challenge projected right guard starter Brent Benedict for the No. 1 spot, Beamer said. The coach indicated that right guard is still a fluid situation and that the starter would be decided from this week’s practice.
***Another starting job up for grabs is punter, where walk-on freshman A.J. Hughes and Hunter Windmuller are still pushing each other for the top spot.
Beamer said the competition will continue this week. Both put up very similar numbers in the preseason. Right now, the left-footed Hughes is No. 1 and Windmuller is No. 2, but we’ll see if that continues to be the case after this week.
The kickoff job will be decided this week as well. Beamer said Cody Journell, Michael Branthover, Ethan Keyserling and Brooks Abbott are all in the running.
***Beamer said freshman running back J.C. Coleman’s fractured right hand isn’t a concern at this point. It hasn’t affected Coleman’s play this preseason – he has looked strong in the scrimmages – and Beamer doesn’t think it will be a problem.
***Defensive end James Gayle has been hampered by ankle injuries this preseason. Beamer said he expects Gayle to get back on the field and practice today.
***Virginia Tech has had extra time this preseason to prepare for its first opponent, Georgia Tech, and its unique spread option offense and 3-4 defensive front. That’s one good thing that comes from playing your chief divisional rival in the very first game of the season, but Beamer said there are disadvantages too.
“The good is you’ve had extra time, and I think your players’ practices have gone very well because they’ve got an opponent we really respect and know how good they are and know this ballgame is important to both of us,” Beamer said. “But playing your first ballgame when you’re really keeping score for real, some unusual things could happen. That’s scary too. There’s some good and bad about playing a team like Georgia Tech in your opening ballgame.”
Is anyone else concerned about the defense? What looked to be the strength of this team going into preseason practice has been getting gashed by an inexperienced offensive line and young running backs. Our secondary has been giving up big plays, too. Or, is all just smoke and mirrors?