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August 17, 2013

VT Good & Bad In Scrimmage

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With two weeks remaining before its battle with the two-time defending National Champion, Virginia Tech hosted its final open scrimmage this morning. While the defense performed up to expectations, there are still several question marks surrounding an offense that struggled to put up points in 2012.

Coach Frank Beamer though, said he's pleased with the progress and where the Hokies are at this point in fall camp.

"I came out of this scrimmage feeling the same way I normally feel after this scrimmage each year," he said. "We're trying to work in a lot of guys, and there was some good and some bad. I thought the effort was good, and I think we'll look at the video and learn from it and keep on progressing."

The scrimmage's highlights centered around the defense, as the group produced eight sacks and three interceptions, led by senior defensive end James Gayle's 2.5 sacks. The quarterbacks wore yellow jersey and were down by contact.

Freshman cornerback Brandon Facyson had a spectacular diving interception, and junior linebacker Chase Williams and redshirt sophomore safety Desmond Frye added their own picks to complete an impressive day for the defense. But as the story has gone since spring practice, there weren't really many evident improvements from a revamped offense. However, it is important to keep in mind that the group worked with a very basic playbook.

"What we did out there today is about two percent of our offense," running backs coach Shane Beamer said. "Today was about getting an evaluation on some guys and keeping it really simple. Who knows who's sitting in the stands. As the next two weeks go, now you're really going to narrow down what you're going to do against Alabama."

Key concerns for the Hokies continue to revolve around their ever-changing offensive line, and an inexperienced group of receivers that hasn't found a go-to guy yet. Senior quarterback Logan Thomas did throw a pretty, 30-yard touchdown to redshirt freshman wide receiver Joshua Stanford for the only score of the contest, but that was one of few standout plays from an offense that gained a total of 250 yards on 73 plays (3.4 yards per play).

Thomas finished 5 of 15 for 72 yards, with a touchdown, a pair of interceptions and was sacked three times. Those statistics surely won't ease too many minds.

"I think I did OK," Thomas said. "A couple of things I wish I had back but all in all I'm happy with what I did. I was accurate and threw the ball where I wanted to."

Probably the most concerning stat of the day showed the Virginia Tech offense going 3-18 on third downs, something that that the Hokies struggled with last season, when they completed 39 percent of their third down conversions. But again, one can only speculate on the type of gameplan that will be implemented versus Alabama.

One sure thing regarding this squad is that young players will have to continue to step up due to a growing list of injuries across the roster. Sophomore Josh Trimble produced a solid performance at the WHIP linebacker spot, as Ronny Vandyke suffered a season-ending shoulder injury earlier this week.

Freshman cornerback Kendall Fuller showed glimpses of stardom playing at the nickel back spot and the Hokies' season may hinge on the improvements of players like Trimble and Fuller.

"You're concerned about it, but we just gotta keep on going," Beamer said.

There are still several unanswered questions within a football team that looks to rebound from a 7-6 season. But the time in which we find out the answers is nearly upon us.

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