Bluefield Daily Telegraph, Bluefield, WV

College Sports

April 19, 2013

Hokies hope that storms are over

BLUEFIELD — Perhaps the spring game of 2012 was an early indication of what awaited the Virginia Tech football team.

That’s because the spring game wasn’t played. A thunderstorm and a scary mixture of lightning forced it to be postponed.

The storms continued when the season began, as the Hokies struggled to a 7-6 record, its worst mark in 20 years. Virginia Tech needed an overtime win over Rutgers in the Russell Athletic Bowl to avoid its first losing record since a 2-8-1 mark in 1992.

At least the 2013 season should get off to a better start.

Today’s Maroon-White spring game isn’t expected to have those issues. An estimated 40,000 spectators are expected to attend the contest at Lane Stadium. Kickoff is slated for 3 p.m., and it will be televised by ESPN3, and can be heard on SiriusXM Radio Channel 192.

Much went wrong last season, including a three-game losing skid that forced the Hokies to win their final three games to finish above .500.

While Virginia Tech’s defense was disappointing at times last season, allowing 23 or more points in seven games, the offense was inconsistent and lifeless at times, scoring 20 or fewer points on six occasions.

Virginia Tech head coach Frank Beamer, who is entering his 27th season with the Hokies, has said in the spring that he was trying to build a ‘tough’ football team, something the Hokies may have lacked last season.

He made three changes to his coaching staff on offense, including the addition of Scot Loeffler (offensive coordinator), Jeff Grimes (offensive line) and Aaron Moorehead (receivers), all of whom have had plenty to work on since spring practice began on March 27.

Loeffler has been working with quarterback Logan Thomas, who struggled at times last season after a standout sophomore campaign in 2012. Grimes must find three new starters on the offensive line, and Moorehead has to locate playmakers at receiver where the leading returnee had 19 receptions (Demetri Knowles) last year.

Running the football was also an issue for the Hokies.

Virginia Tech tried a “running back by committee” last season with four different backs touching the ball, but Thomas wound up as the Hokies’ leading rusher with 524 yards.

Three of those four backs have returned, including 5-foot-7 J.C. Coleman and last year’s opening game starter Michael Holmes, but 6-foot, 200-pound Danville product Trey Edmunds has impressed in the spring and could challenge for the starting slot.

Defensive coordinator Bud Foster has nine starters back, although Antone Exum is out with a knee injury suffered during a pickup basketball game. The Hokies, although they struggled at times last year, did finish among the top 30 teams in the nation in scoring and against the run and pass.

However, that same defense was talking prior to last season like they expected to be one of the best units in school history. James Gayle, Jack Tyler and J.R. Collins do return on that side of the ball.

Giles product Cody Journell returns as the field goal kicker and extra point specialist for the Hokies.  

Virginia Tech will open its season on Aug. 31 by playing two-time defending national champion Alabama in Atlanta. Its home opener will be the following Saturday against Western Carolina.

• Virginia Tech will travel to Notre Dame to play the Fighting Irish for the first time in school history in 2016. Notre Dame will play a limited ACC schedule beginning in 2014.

• The University of Virginia will host Notre Dame in 2015.

—Contact Brian Woodson


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