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April 14, 2012

Offense shows spurts in second scrimmage

Virginia Tech held their second public scrimmage of the spring on Saturday. The offense had its struggles at times with Logan Thomas throwing a couple interceptions, but the offense showed some spurts too, most notably a 60-yard touchdown run by Michael Holmes, three touchdowns by Corey Fuller and four touchdown passes for Logan Thomas.

Logan Thomas was under significant duress on the day and often times threw into double coverage. He started by nearly throwing two interceptions, though one went through Knowles hands, the other he overthrew Eric Martin. Even when Thomas threw the ball well and he made a few nice throws on the day, his receivers dropped passes, at least four on the day. The one nice pass that really delivered was a 21-yard touchdown to Randall Dunn; it was a play Thomas got some good protection. Late though, Thomas showed a tendency especially later in the scrimmage to throw off his back foot and that resulted in some significant mistakes including a pair of interceptions one to Chris Caver on a bad throw, another he tried to throw away and didn't get it out of bounds to Antone Exum. He added an overthrow of Roberts in the two-minute drills. Still, Thomas had success completing 9-of-23 for 90-yards and four touchdowns, to join the interceptions.

Backup Trey Gresh was the second string today with Mark Leal out with a respiratory issue. Gresh had a bit of a mixed day tossing up a jump ball touchdown to Randall Dunn from eight-yards out along with an 18-yard touchdown to Corey Fuller, but also throwing an interception to Alonzo Tweedy. Gresh and one of the tailbacks had a poor exchange late that resulted in a fumble. Gresh also went out with an injury near the end, but it didn't appear to be serious. Gresh finished completing 7-of-16 for 31-yards. Brian Rody missed the game due to injury.

At tailback, Michael Holmes was the highlight with a huge 60-yard touchdown run off the left side. Holmes displayed outstanding speed and quickness down the field and was aided by some very solid blocking on the play. The play was from the Hokies new pistol formation and proved effective. That was just one of a few nice runs for Holmes on the day as he finished with 89-yards rushing. Meanwhile, Martin Scales showed his tough running style again, bowling one run to the goal line. He even displayed a terrific stiff arm before falling down at the goal, he posted 17-yards on four runs. J.C. Coleman got a few spots especially late. He showed a nice burst once again, but had a relatively mediocre stat line, 14 runs for 16-yards. At fullback, Joey Phillips got a run and took a big shot on the play.

The wide receiver position was missing Marcus Davis with a hamstring injury along with D.J. Coles of course. Davis was out with blue jersey today. Demitri Knowles, Corey Fuller, Kevin Asante, Willie Byrn and Dyrell Roberts dropped passes right through their hands, Fuller with two on the day and slipped on another play. Fuller did improve though coming up with three touchdowns on the day, an 18-yard bubble screen where he burst for the score, six-yard corner route touchdown followed by a nice fade for a score in the corner. Fuller led the way with the three scores, but also four grabs total for 34-yards. Roberts blocked well on the day and showed he wasn't afraid of contact. As for Knowles and Asante, Knowles was nearly intercepted, while Asante's was jarred loose and picked off. E.L. Smiling got a reception, but took a big hit on the screen.

At tight end, Randall Dunn was the star of the day pulling down a play-action jump ball for a touchdown from Gresh and then a 21-yard touchdown from Thomas. Dunn showed some good extension on the first and a great grab on the second. He even broke a couple tackles on the second score. Dunn was wide open down the middle on another play later in the scrimmage before the line gave up a sack. He closed out with the two grabs for 31-yards Eric Martin seemed to struggle on the day dropping a sure touchdown and earlier being overthrown. Ryan Malleck was relatively quiet, but pulled down a nice reception late.

The offensive line started things off early with a false start, but improved over the course of the game. Brent Benedict who struggled a lot last week was more consistent this week that was the case for much of the starting unit, which got better as the day wore on. David Wang was consistent again, while Vinston Painter stepped up and minimized James Gayle in their matchups. Still, Logan Thomas was under a fair amount of pressure on the day. In the few opportunities the ones went against each other, the defensive line got the better of them. Holmes was stuffed twice, Nick Becton was called for a false start, and there was an incomplete pass and a sack. In particular, the offensive line struggled at the goal line and in pass coverage. Darian Fisher completely missed Chase Williams on a safety.

Along the defensive line, Kris Harley was very active on the day. He stepped up early, blowing up a J.C. Coleman sweep. He added a sack later on, one of two on the day. Overall, the defensive line was impressive helping to lead the way with five of the seven sacks. Luther Maddy blew up a reverse to Knowles that backed the offense up to the one. J.R. Collins stepped up with a sack, beating Mark Shuman late and added a safety on Holmes, getting into the backfield. He posted six tackles in the game. Surprisingly, James Gayle was relatively quiet on the day. The backup line had its moments, Corey Marshall and Zack McCray got some pressure, Marshall a bit more, predominately inside, but they played both inside and out. Derrick Hopkins was consistent again and had a sack.

Bruce Taylor and Jeron Gouveia-Winslow remained out at linebacker. Taylor was still in a boot. Ronny Vandyke continued to perform well, blowing up a few runs, a screen on E.L. Smiling and a goal line stuff of Martin Scales. He posted four tackles. Chase Williams as mentioned above had a great read and sack for a safety on Trey Gresh, he had a big day overall with six tackles, 3.5 for loss and the sack for a safety. Alonzo Tweedy performed well, but dropped an early opportunity for an interception from Gresh. Jack Tyler was consistent again finishing with five tackles on the day. D.J. DiNardo recovered a fumble late in the scrimmage. Josh Trimble stepped up with three tackles on the day.

The secondary really made their presence felt today. In particular, Detrick Bonner and Kyshoen Jarrett stepped up. Bonner laid a huge hit on Kevin Asante, one that jarred the ball loose and allowed Jarrett to come up with the interception. Bonner posted six tackles in the contest. Jarrett doled out a few other hits on the day, one on Joey Phillips. Of course, Kyle Fuller and Antone Exum performed well including Exum with a big hit on Knowles and an easy interception and nice return on a separate play. However, the day saw far more from the depth chart. Micahel Cole returned and provided some solid coverage, though he was beat late by a fade to Fuller for a score. Donaldven Manning did a nice job sniffing out an openfield tackle, he had four tackles on the day. Chris Caver came up with an easy interception of Thomas late. Some drops aided the defense, however Theron Norman and Adeboye Aromire dropped interceptions early. Carl Jackson was beat one on the jump ball score for Dunn.

On special teams, Conor Goulding looks like he is the clear frontrunner for the field goal job as he impressed in workouts and then made all three attempts from 27, 42 and a theoretical game winner to close the scrimmage from 25-yards out. Michael Branthover made his lone attempt from 37-yards, while; Ethan Keyserling pushed a 32-yard wide right, but then came back with his big leg to drill a 44-yarder with plenty of distance. Keyserling averaged 45-yards on two punts. Kyle Fuller came off the edge on a separate occasion for a block field goal attempt that saw Antone Exum return it for a 60-yard touchdown. Branthover looks like he's got the edge with the punting at this stage with a couple big kicks including a 46-yarder that dropped at the 10, he averaged 44.3-yards on the day on three attempts Dyrell Roberts and Kyshoen Jarrett saw time on punt returns, but neither got an opportunity.

Virginia Tech will close out spring practice next Saturday with the Maroon versus White Spring Game. Kickoff is set for 4 p.m. The spring game will be broadcast on ESPN3.

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