Last night, the Hokies opened up their fall camp with a practice that was so intense it got Frank Beamer and the other coaches excited:
Frank Beamer: "I don't know if I've ever been around a better first practice."— Nathan Warters (@NathanWarters) August 6, 2013
Sure, Beamer spouting off platitudes might not be the best indicator of how it actually went, but football is back! We've already given you all the official depth chart as of last night, the position changes and the heights and weights of all of the players, as well as a look at the team's scholarship situation. Now we'll shoot you some of the developments from last night. First off, and the biggest set of news coming out of last night's camp, it has been determined that Antone Exum will not be ready to take on Alabama to start the season and may in fact miss an additional month or so before he is even re-evaluated:
Release said Exum is a "little ways" from trusting knee. They said to increase work incrementally and re-test in two months. #Hokies— Andy Bitter (@AndyBitterVT) August 5, 2013
So it IS OFFICIAL RT @RTD_MikeBarber: Virginia Tech trainer Mike Goforth clears things up. Antone Exum won't play against Alabama. #Hokies— GobblerCountry.com (@gobblercountry) August 6, 2013
That is obviously devastating (but expected) news for the Hokies, not just for their game against Alabama, but also because it leaves the possibility open that Exum could perhaps even be gone longer than the two months before he receives another check up, essentially making it a lost season at that point. But the coaches are preparing to go into battle without him, and make it clear that their goal is to have him back for ACC play.
More Gray on Exum: "We would love to have him against Alabama, but right now, we've got to roll with what we're getting." #Hokies— Norm Wood (@normwood) August 5, 2013
#Hokies coach Frank Beamer on Exum: "It's just one of those things that takes time...It needs to be right for him and for us."— Norm Wood (@normwood) August 6, 2013
Exum aside, there were other developments before last night's camp, mostly centered around the discussion about Kendall Fuller being slotted as the co-No. 1 with Ronny Vandyke at the WHIP position, although on several occasions it was mentioned that it would be in a nickel look like it was for his brother Kyle. It was never really made clear which of these two responsibilities Kendall would be taking on, because as a former defensive back, I know that the responsibilities of a nickelback are pretty different than what the WHIP has traditionally done at Tech. Bud Foster and the Tech beat writers that were quoting him didn't do us any favors in figuring this one out with these comments:
Bud on whip LB: "We want guy in there that can be a nickel guy...but also run our defense." Kendall Fuller could be every down whip. #Hokies— Hokies Journal (@HokiesJournal) August 5, 2013
Key w/Kendall Fuller at whip: #Hokies want him to be able to do everything. Not put him just for coverages. Will do blitzes, run stop too.— Andy Bitter (@AndyBitterVT) August 5, 2013
Ultimately, I'm glad Kendall will be getting on the field early, but I am absolutely stunned to hear it might be as an every-down WHIP. Quite honestly, that frightens me because of his lack of size and tackling acumen. If that is the case, it will most likely look more like a 4-2-5, which teams like Alabama will try to exploit and just run at until the Hokies can stop it, something that they struggled to do with three linebackers and stacking the box against Alabama in 2009. That is what concerns me the most about this development.
As for Joel Caleb, his status is apparently up in the air. After there were rumors last week that Caleb was to miss the first game of the season for a violation of team rules (I believe), the coaches would not comment on the matter last night, saying that they'd announce that kind of thing in a press conference at a later date. But the fact that they have not announced it and would not last night might indicate that they're giving Caleb the opportunity to atone for whatever he did. Regardless of the potential suspension, they seemed to be very complimentary about what he did last night:
WR coach Aaron Moorehead on Joel Caleb getting some reps at TB: "We’re just trying to give a play-maker a chance to make some plays" #Hokies— Andy Bitter (@AndyBitterVT) August 5, 2013
Beamer on Joel Caleb at RB: "I think we're on the right path here." Beamer said he likes having another big back in mix.— Nathan Warters (@NathanWarters) August 6, 2013
Speaking of Caleb, Beamer intrigued w/ how he did during first practice at RB. Called it night and day from spring. "He looks more natural."— Hokies Journal (@HokiesJournal) August 6, 2013
Beamer and the rest of the coaching staff made it a point to talk about Corey Marshall and what his move back inside to defensive tackle might mean:
Beamer called Corey Marshall's move to DT this year unselfish. "He adds something. When he's inside, he's quick, he's strong." #Hokies— Andy Bitter (@AndyBitterVT) August 6, 2013
They mentioned that they had spoken with Corey the night before about the move and that Bud Foster had PROMISED him that he would allow him to stay at defensive end his senior year. The coaches also raved about freshman kicker/punter Mitchell Ludwig:
Beamer on freshman kickoff guy Mitchell Ludwig: "...he was knocking them to the back of the end zone and out of the end zone." #Hokies— Norm Wood (@normwood) August 6, 2013
Lastly, as of this morning, the offensive line depth charts have changed with several position changes, doing something that Jeff Grimes said will apparently happen a lot before the start of the season as he wants to make it clear, no spots have been earned yet. He said that the players will move around the line some this year. Here's the updated list of starters as of today:
Following AM staff meeting, some movement in the OL for practice #2. First group includes LT Shuman, LG Farris, and center Wang.— Beamer Ball (@Beamer_Ball) August 6, 2013
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