Virginia Tech opened spring practice on Wednesday. Many questions remain regarding the Hokies as they look to replace a vast majority of the offense and make numerous adjustments on defense. The Hokiehaven Roundtable is here to look at upcoming month ahead.
1. Michael Holmes takes over at tailback, what do you want to see from him over the course of spring practice?
Hokie True: I hope to see strength and quickness when he hits the hole. I also want to see his ability to grasp the playbook by the end of spring. It's a big spring for him and J.C. Coleman.
Doug Bowman: I want to see everything. He has a lot of hype surrounding him coming into the spring, but really the only people who've seen him play are the players and coaches. I want to see how he runs, how he cuts, how patient he is, basically everything about him as a ball carrier. Also, I want to see him not have any fumbling issues.
Brian Mohr: For me, it's just that he takes control of the position early. The position is his for the taking, but he's got to come out and run away with it to prove he is the top player at running back spot.
2. What position battle will you be looking at the most this spring?
Hokie True: The offensive line overall. I want to see if they can develop a serviceable two-deep across the entire line.
Doug Bowman: Whip - It doesn't look like Jeron Gouveia-Winslow is going to get involved with too many drills which will leave the battle up to Alonzo Tweedy, Ronny Vandyke, and Nick Dew. I loved what Tweedy brought to the table in space late last year, but I really believe Vandyke is a budding star at the position if he can pick it up.
Brian Mohr: Though it's not utilized a lot, I'm personally interested in the tight end battle. Eric Martin is the starter, but where do Randall Dunn, Ryan Malleck and Duan Perez-Means fit in. Virginia Tech has the potential for some quality receivers in this group and if they can show up in practice, perhaps they can be utilized more in games.
3. A lot of guys are out this spring, whether it's due to injury, leaving the team or dismissal, do any of these really hurt the team as a whole?
Hokie True: I think the lack at depth is a concern with walk-ons having to be the backups at some positions, but a lot of young kids will get a chance to step up and make a name for themselves with the new found playing time.
Doug Bowman: Telvion Clark's absence will definitely be affected. He was going to spend the spring as the number one backer and if last year was any indication, he probably would have excelled and given Bud Foster two starting caliber backers for the fall. Instead, he's gone and Tech is left to hope that Chase Williams can fill the void until Tariq Edwards returns.
Brian Mohr: The lack of depth at linebacker is concerning as Jeron Gouveia-Winslow is the only returning starter and he's not 100%. The injuries to him along with Tariq Edwards and Bruce Taylor aren't really pushing the new found starters this spring as many are battling walk-ons in the two or three deep. That isn't just at linebacker though, however it's most notable there, but everywhere for that matter.
4. Which player do you think needs to step up now in spring practice?
Hokie True: Vinston Painter
Doug Bowman: E.L. Smiling - There are a ton of young talented receivers already in (Asante, Knowles, Reeves, Byrn) and a bunch more potentially depending if they are slotted at wide receiver or in the secondary. He's still very young, but if he doesn't perform he could quickly be passed by all these younger guys.
Brian Mohr: E.L. Smiling. He's at risk to get lost in the wide receiver rotation if he doesn't find a role this spring. There is the possibility he could move to safety, but with the depth Tech is beginning to develop there his chances may not be much better as the Hokies at least use four wide receivers sometimes and only two safeties. He's already almost assuredly behind Marcus Davis, D.J. Coles and Dyrell Roberts (assuming he's healthy). But, he's in a battle now with Kevin Asante, Christian Reeves, Demetri Knowles, Corey Fuller and Willie Byrn for a secondary role. Being one of the more experienced guys, he should be able to make a push for it.
5. A number of position changes were made prior to spring practice, most notably Antone Exum to corner, Detrick Bonner and Kyshoen Jarrett to safety, Ronny Vandyke to whip, among many others, do any of those stick out to you?
Hokie True: The fact they only have three scholarship cornerbacks right now surprises me that both Kyshoen Jarrett and Detrick Bonner moved. I would not be shocked to see one of them move back. I think Antone Exum will be very good at cornerback.
Doug Bowman: I think Kyshoen Jarrett sticks at free safety. He reminds me a lot of D.J. Parker in his demeanor and frame at free safety and I think he could flourish there if given the time.
Brian Mohr: The flip flop between corner and safety with Antone Exum moving to corner and Bonner and Jarrett sliding to safety was a tad surprising. It's especially surprising when the Hokies are down to three scholarship corners now if they keep Bonner and Jarrett at safety. Obviously they won't, but I'm surprised they don't want to develop one of them more at least at cornerback during this month.
6. Name one player you expect to break out this spring?
Hokie True: Ronny Vandyke
Doug Bowman: J.C. Coleman - Not a surprise, but I think he is going to be the story of the spring by April 21st. Quickness, vision, cutting ability, it is all there and he should make some serious headlines with some long runs in April.
Brian Mohr: Duan Perez-Means. I liked Perez-Means as a tight end in high school and thought that was his better position. I believe he'll make the transition quickly for the Hokies. It may not totally turn on until fall, but I think he'll find a role in the offense in some capacity this season at tight end as he's got a good combination of athleticism, size and quality hands.
7. What is the one question you want answered by the end of spring practice?
Hokie True: Who will be at defensive tackle and who will be at defensive end or who will be a combination of both?
Doug Bowman: What is the secondary situation? There are a lot of unknowns back there now, but I want to know who's playing where and if they are excelling at that position by the time the spring game concludes.
Brian Mohr: Has Virginia Tech found their starters on the offensive line? I don't expect them to find a complete two-deep, but will the starters be adequate so that they can focus more on developing as group come fall camp and then really try to find that two-deep for the season.
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