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Backfield, Linebackers will be Focus of Hokies' First Spring Scrimmage

Virginia Tech will host its first open-door scrimmage of the spring at 11 a.m. Saturday in Lane Stadium. It will be the first of three scrimmages that will be open to the public and will give us our first glimpse of hos the 2010 edition of Virginia Tech football.

I'll be interested in hearing how our running backs and linebackers fare Saturday. In the backfield, I'll look to see how the carries are distributed, how Josh Oglesby performs at fullback and how much David Wilson sees of the field. On defense, linebacker will be one of the big keys for the Hokies and there are several new faces that will see significant playing time Saturday.

Mini-scrimmage finishes off Wednesday's Practice (Norm Wood)
Norm Wood of the Daily Press has all the stats from Wednesday's theoretical mini-scrimmage that no one was allowed to see. It didn't give us much of a preview of Saturday's full scrimmage since Tyrod Taylor and Ryan Williams were held out, but are expected to play Saturday.

In the backfield, Darren Evans had three carries for 19 yards, Kenny Lewis had four for 20, Josh Oglesby three for 12 and David Wilson one for two. Wilson only getting one carry in a mini-scrimmage designed for backups should add to the speculation that he's going to redshirt this season.

On defense, John Graves had two sacks (see, I told you he should be moved to DE) and freshman DE J.R. Collins had two tackles and a sack. What should we take from all this? Wood sums it up nicely:

As much as I'd love to provide some insight to all the aforementioned numbers, that's pretty tough to do considering I didn't see a single snap. It's clear it was mainly a scrimmage for backups, and a lot more will come out of the upcoming Saturday scrimmages leading up to the April 24 spring game. Until then, the above data should probably just be looked at as numbers on a page - nothing more, nothing less.

As meaningless as the mini-scrimmage was, it's still exciting to be looking at new football stats again. Whether or not it actually happened is irrelevant.

Fears and Redshirt Years (Kyle Tucker)
Saturday will be our first chance to see Darren Evans since he had six carries for 16 yards in a scrimmage April 10 of last year. Evans was held of out the 2009 spring game with an injury and tore his left ACL prior to the regular season. Kyle Tucker reports an important part of the scrimmage for Evans will be eliminating the fear that his knee could pop the next time he gets hit. Evans' style of play depends on his fearlessness.

The dazzling Ryan Williams is Tech’s make-you-miss back. That’s not Evans’ thing. He’s the bulldozer. Hesitancy to take on tacklers won’t work for him. He knows it, and he’s busy telling himself to snap out of it.

Evans needs to play a significant role for the Hokies to be successful in 2010.Hopefully we can start to see glimpses of the old Evans this Saturday.

One son of a Redskin trying to take over for another (Darryl Slater)
We'll get a glimpse of two new linebackers Saturday. Since Barquell Rivers is out with a torn quad, Bruce Taylor will be your starting mike linebacker this spring. At whip, Jeron Gouveia-Winslow will get the first crack as replacing Cody Grimm.

While it would be easy to make the comparison between Grimm and JGW, who are both sons of former NFL players, their childhood relationships with their dads were very different, writes Darryl Slater:

But Gouveia-Winslow’s parents divorced when he was about 5, he said, and he didn’t talk much with his father when he was growing up. Kurt headed to the Philadelphia Eagles in 1995, then spent the next three seasons with the San Diego Chargers before returning to the Redskins for his final season.

JGW told the Times-Dispatch he is starting to speak to his father once a week and their relationship is better than it's been. Kurt Gouveia is even giving his son advice on how to read pass or run from the opposing offense. JGW will compete with Alonzo Tweedy, converted free safety Lorenzo Williams and former wideout Zach Luckett for the starting whip spot, though Luckett will be out this spring since he's still recovering from a knee injury he suffered against UVa last year.

Luckett could be the wild card in the bunch once players return in August. It would be a great story if he could earn the starting spot after being suspended for the 2008 season after his second DUI. He returned to the team last year and excelled on special teams before tearing his left ACL and MCL on kickoff coverage against UVa.

Carmichael leaps into boundary role (Collegiate Times)
When Rashad Carmichael first started seeing significant playing time in 2008, I was fairly critical of the guy teammates and coaches call "Rock." Thanks to an injury to Macho Harris, Carmichael started at boundary corner in the opening loss to ECU and had a rough game in his first time on the field since his father's death from a heart attack.

He had his struggles during the 2008 season and going into 2009 I was hopeful that Jayron Hosley or Eddie Whitley could earn the starting spot over Carmichael. However, Carmichael turned out to be our best cornerback in 2009 and earned the boundary spot early in the season. Carmichael has proved me wrong and should be solid at boundary corner in his senior season.

He's always been a big guy capable of providing the support on run-defense necessary at the position. Now he's improved his ability in pass coverage and become one of the fastest guys on the team. He even boasts one of those surely make-believe, ultra-fast 40 times that college coaches like to tout:

On the walls of the weight room, Carmichael notes, his 40-yard dash time displays alongside those of Eddie Royal, Michael and Marcus Vick, and he is listed with DeAngelo Hall in the Hokies’ top-five all-time rankings — after posting a 4.26-second mark last spring.

Be sure to read the entire feature on Carmichael. He's an inspirational guy who's overcome a lot and is giving back to the community by interning with Head Start in Christiansburg.