Virginia Tech LB Barquell Rivers Might Play in Orange Bowl

Starting Jack Tyler at mike linebacker is one of several options for the Hokies against Stanford. (Photo by Streeter Lecka/Getty Images)

Kyle Tucker updates us all on Virginia Tech's linebacker situation now that starting backer Lyndell Gibson is out after shoulder surgery.

Basically, the play is still to start freshman Tariq Edwards at backer and Bruce Taylor at mike. However, the Hokies are developing contingency plans if the inexperienced Edwards isn't ready to face the country's 14th-ranked offense in yards per play.

The first has Taylor moving to backer, a position the coaches say he can play although he has minimal experience at. That would make freshman Jack Tyler the starting mike. 

The coaches were impressed with Tyler's play in the second half against Florida State in relief of Taylor. Having Taylor switch positions is not optimal, but could be necessary if Edwards isn't proving himself in practice.

One other option might be available, Tucker reports. That would be the return of last year's starting mike, Barquell Rivers. He hasn't played since tearing his left quad prior to spring drills. His was supposed to return sometime in September, but suffered a setback and was basically shutdown by the coaching staff. That move hasn't done well for Rivers' physique:

Rivers has packed on some pounds - he's up about 15 pounds to 250 - but he's doing extra conditioning to knock that weight off. And even with it, coaches and trainers say he has looked a lot more like his old self in the last week.

I don't think we can count on Rivers for more than a few plays against Stanford. Hopefully the two freshmen will play well enough that he's not needed, but we may see a preview of what's to come next year. While some see a battle between Rivers and Taylor for the starting mike job in 2011, I think it's just as likely that Taylor starts at backer and Rivers starts at mike. That would be a heckuva tandem if we can pull it off.

Tucker's post has more on the linebacker situation, including interviews with Taylor, Edwards and Bud Foster.

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