The rumors are true: Virginia Tech linebacker Bruce Taylor is out for the year with a Lisfranc injury to his right foot. [...] Taylor is the third defensive starter from opening day to be lost for the year. Defensive tackle Antoine Hopkins tore his ACL against Clemson. Winslow was lost for the year because of a Lisfranc injury prior to the Wake Forest game.
Whoever this Lisfranc guy is, he's really starting to tick me off.
The loss of Taylor, Tech's leading tackler this season and last from the mike linebacker spot, is a big one for the Hokies, but not an impossible one to overcome. Mike was arguably the deepest position for the Hokies coming into this season and now that depth will be tested.
Senior Barquell Rivers is listed as the starter in this week's game notes with sophomore Jack Tyler as his back-up. Rivers is a familiar name to Tech fans. He came onto the scene during the 2009 Orange Bowl against Cincinnati when he started as a redshirt freshman for Brett Warren, who missed the game with a torn ACL.
Rivers played solidly and though he recorded just two tackles, one stopped Cincy QB Tony Pike short of the goalline on fourth-and-goal with 7:25 to play to help preserve a 20-7 Hokie win. He became a full-time starter in 2009 and finished second on the team with 96 tackles.
Unfortunately, Rivers tore his quad prior to spring practice in 2010 and missed the entire regular season and ACC Championship Game. He played sparingly in the Orange Bowl against Stanford and did not record a tackle.
Rivers' playing time has increased slowly as the season has gone on, but still isn't at 100 percent. If he needs a breather, Tyler also has plenty of playing experience. He came in for Taylor during the ACCCG last year after Taylor left the game with a stinger and had seven solo tackles.
In the Orange Bowl, he started at mike and Taylor shifted to backer to fill in for Lyndell Gibson, but he couldn't repeat his success from the ACCCG and struggled in pass coverage. How much of Tyler will we wind up seeing this year? It will probably depend on the Hokies' ability to get off the field quickly.
Darryl Slater of the Richmond Times-Dispatch tweeted that Rivers said this about how long he can play: "I guess it depends on how long the drives are. I think I can do most of the game right now."
And Slater's latest blog post has this from Bud Foster: "If we're playing a lot of snaps, we need to split it. I don't know what kind of shape Barquell is in when it's all said and done. I'm going to demand that he practice hard this week just to get himself in game shape. We talked about that."
With Georgia Tech looming on the horizon, I think it would be smart to get Tyler some reps against Duke. The Jackets make their hay by play ball control and have had some long, tiring drives against the Hokies since Paul Johnson arrived in Atlanta. Rivers looked good against the run and while blitzing against Boston College, but the real test for his quad is going to come when he's forced to move laterally with regularity.
The Hokies certainly can survive their latest injury on defense, but like the one to DT Antoine Hopkins, they're probably going to have to survive it by committee.