Spring practice has started, quietly, without much fanfare, and with Justin Fuente’s tight information control. The big issues to settle for this Spring will be getting the depth chart arranged for the Linebackers, finding the 4th and 5th players for the defensive line, and sorting out the roles and positions within the offensive line. The defensive back situation is still not completely optimal, but there is more the feeling that the existing players really need to step up. Yes, I realize that most of Hokie Nation is fixated on the QB situation, and we’ll definitely get in some chops on the drastically reduced list of Quarterbacks on the roster.
Though many may not agree, the QB Stakes are sort of low on the pecking order of things to take a hard look at. With that in mind, we’ll start off with the biggest unknown for the Spring of 2018, and that’s the Linebacker situation. The known departures due to graduation of Motuapuaka, Huelskamp, and an early out of Tremaine Edmunds put a serious crimp in the linebacking corps.
If you look at this LB cutup from the roster, you’ll notice something that generates one of those weird sucking hiss noises from most fans. There are no players above Junior, and certainly no one with much game experience on the list.
Spring 2018 Hokie Linebackers
|57||Zack Treser||-||LB||6' 5"||222||rJr||Blacksburg VA||Blacksburg|
|48||Daniel Griffith||1||LB||6' 0"||231||rSo||Chesapeake VA||Nansemond-Suffolk Academy|
|44||Dylan Rivers||1||LB||6' 1"||233||So||Sherando VA||Sherando|
|23||Rayshard Ashby||-||LB||5' 10"||228||rFr||Chesterfield VA||L.C. Bird|
|38||Rico Kearney||-||LB||6' 0"||232||rFr||Jacksonville FL||Mandarin|
|41||Jaylen Griffin||-||LB||6' 1"||242||rFr||Rome GA||Rome|
|34||Alan Tisdale||-||LB||6' 3"||208||Fr||Greensboro NC||Page|
You will notice a redshirt Junior on the roster, but Zack Terser, an academic Senior has yet to make any known appearances on the field. Unless there is some major change in his status, Zack’s number on the depth chart is unlikely to creep toward playing time.
The two players with some game experience are Daniel Griffith and Dylan Rivers. Both players clocked mostly special teams work across the 2017 season. Neither of them ever started. Rivers recorded some tackles, but the stats are non-existent for Griffith.
Folks, that’s it. That’s the sum total of Linebacker Prowess and experience on this list. Suffice it to say that the remainder of the players, Rayshard Ashby, Rico Kearney, Jaylen Griffin, and Alan Tisdale are going to get some serious work and close looks. There are usually four playing linebackers in Bud Foster’s scheme.
It would not surprise me to see a Whip heavy technique were Mook Reynolds spends more time at Whip than Rover. This Spring is going to be a really critical period for the midfield defense. It also means that the question of who occupies what slot in the depth chart will not be settled until fall practice wraps up. Dax Hollifield and Keshon Aris are going to get hard looks and a decent shot at making the squad as true Freshmen.
This season may be Bud Foster’s biggest challenge in many seasons. We’ll be watching closely during the game, that’s for sure.