The bad news continues to come for a Hokies secondary, which with the return of Antone Exum, was poised to be complete and fully healthy for the first time this season. But with a concussion to Brandon Facyson, one of two freshman phenoms at cornerback, and Kyle Fuller to a groin problem, the Hokies most experienced defensive back and regarded as one of the top players in America and at the position, Tech is now down to only three scholarship corners on the roster, a problem I highlighted in the pre-season if any injuries were to occur. As Andy Bitter quips:
And to think the concern the last couple weeks for the #Hokies has been what to do with too many good cornerbacks ...— Andy Bitter (@AndyBitterVT) October 24, 2013
Can't imagine a team suffering more practice injuries than the #Hokies this year. Two CBs go down during the bye. Has that ever happened?— Andy Bitter (@AndyBitterVT) October 24, 2013
Exum, assuming he is fully healthy, will play big minutes and start, as has been guaranteed by Torrian Gray upon his return. Regardless of how good he looked down the stretch a season ago, however, Tech fans should not expect him to replicate that performance right off the bat. In fact, until he is fully re-acclimated to game action, assuming the other two injured parties should miss any length of time, cornerback could become a position of weakness for the Hokies.
While Kendall Fuller, the youngest of the Fuller brothers, is capable at the position, he has spent most of the year at the nickel position created out of the whip linebacker role vacated when Ronny Vandyke went down in fall camp to a season-ending injury. If the elder Fuller and Facyson are unable to go, expect to see him shift over into the starting role at one of the cornerback spots, or to see sophomore Donovan Riley, who has not seen much time this year or last, to slip into that spot, leaving Kendall free to play nickel back. That move, however, would appear exceedingly unlikely.
A third, if perhaps also unlikely move, would entail Kendall Fuller moving to cornerback to start while allowing redshirt-sophomore whip linebacker Josh Trimble, who is listed as the co-starter at the position and has made one start there already in 2013, to make another spot start there. The Hokies may also try to use some of freshman defensive back Chuck Clark, who came in for Brandon Facyson during the Georgia Tech game, at corner. He has been impressive so far this season, and it appears the staff has a comfort level with him, as Mike Barber explains:
@jermadams Chuck has worked mostly at safety and nickel, but he could play some corner.— Mike Barber (@RTD_MikeBarber) October 25, 2013
@jshif1285 @gobblercountry Chuck Clark told us Tuesday after practice that most of his reps the last two weeks were at rover and nickel.— Mike Barber (@RTD_MikeBarber) October 25, 2013
@gobblercountry @jshif1285 Yeah, my guess is, last week, with Exum coming back, they moved him more to rover and nickel. Now, might need CB.— Mike Barber (@RTD_MikeBarber) October 25, 2013
It is unclear whether either player will be able to go, but according to the official injury report from the football team, both players' statuses are very much in question:
#Hokies CB Kyle Fuller (groin) listed as questionable for Duke game. CB Brandon Facyson (concussion) listed as doubtful.— Mike Barber (@RTD_MikeBarber) October 24, 2013
For updates regarding the likelihood of both players, as well as how the Hokies will shift their defense if one or neither player is unable to go, continue reading here on Gobbler Country, your Virginia Tech football home. Also remember to follow us on Twitter @gobblercountry and @gobblercountry2.