The big news coming out of Blacksburg yesterday, other than the start of fall practice, is the news that cornerback Antone Exum will be out for at least two more months rehabbing his knee.
This means that Exum will miss the Alabama game, and it’s up in the air whether he will return soon after that. Here are the media reports on Exum, with more detail:
Note that the reports say that Exum’s knee will be tested again by orthopedic surgeon Dr. James Andrews in two months. (It was Andrews who recommended one and a half to two more months of rehab.) So for the next two months, there isn’t any hope that Exum will come along faster, or be reinstated, or that something will happen to move his schedule up. He’s going to continue rehab for the next couple of months, then be retested.
Among all the quotes from trainer Mike Goforth, head coach Frank Beamer and others about how disappointing this is for Exum, there’s a noteworthy quote from defensive coordinator Bud Foster from Mike Barber’s RT-D article:
Virginia Tech defensive coordinator Bud Foster said he’s more concerned with getting Exum back in time for Atlantic Coast Conference play.
“We’re looking for him for the long haul,” Foster said Monday before practice. “The first game, yeah it’s a big game. But that’s not going to make or break our season. It’s the rest of the year that’s going to do that. …
“We’ve also got 11 other games after that. We’ve got a conference championship to play for, hopefully. That’s my big focus for him.”
That quote lays out where the Virginia Tech coaching staff stands on Exum in particular and the Alabama game in general. It’s a big game, and it’s a great opportunity, but the main focus is getting back to winning conference championships.
As for the Alabama game, with Exum out, the Hokies will rely on Donaldven Manning (#30, So., 5-10, 181) and true freshman Brandon Facyson (#31, Fr., 6-2, 188) at the field corner spot. They were listed as co-#1 in the depth chart circulated by VT Sports Information at yesterday’s practice.
With true freshman Kendall Fuller (#11, Fr., 5-11, 193) listed as the #1 nickel back, look for Alabama to attack the young corners at Exum’s spot and Fuller at the nickel spot when the two teams meet August 31st in the Georgia Dome (5:30, ESPN). The pressure will be on Virginia Tech’s experienced defensive line and interior linebackers to make it hard for the Crimson Tide to go after Fuller and the corners.