The biggest news after Virginia Tech’s 13th practice was obviously the news concerning Josh Jackson.
Virginia Tech Head Coach Justin Fuente told the media Tuesday night that Jackson, a true freshman at quarterback, has thrust himself into the mix to start at quarterback against Liberty on Sept. 3.
Fuente said that he appreciates Jackson’s work ethic, despite being all but eliminated from the quarterback battle in the spring.
“I just think he shows up every day and continues to work and get better,” Fuente said. “I don’t know if surprised is the right word, that’s why I did leave it out there that I reserve the right, because stranger things have happened. I’ve been pleased that he’s making progress.”
Fuente was vague concerning possible two-quarterback scenarios in the season-opener.
“I could foresee any scenario,” Fuente said. “I’m hopeful in the next week that I can see more clearly potential scenarios. That leaves it open-ended enough, but we still have a lot of evaluation left and work to do.”
Now that the Hokies are starting to scrimmage regularly in practice, Fuente said that the installation of the offense has gone well.
“I think their retention level coming into fall camp was good,” Fuente said. “We’ve continued to build on that. At times, I think we as a staff have to be careful about overloading the guys, continuing to make sure… you know we don’t play the Virginia Tech defense this year on offense and the Virginia Tech defense doesn’t the Virginia Tech offense this year. Both sides have done a good job in my opinion of keeping that in mind, in terms of making sure we’re still teaching the fundamentals and techniques that we’re going to use during the season, as opposed to just trying to get the better of the other side. We’re still, on both sides, laying the foundation for the tools and the skills and the schemes that we’ll need as you go through an entire season.”
At running back, Fuente expanded on his thoughts about Travon McMillian, who continues to have a good fall camp. Fuente, on multiple occasions, mentioned during the spring that McMillian wasn’t having a good offseason, but has since changed his tune.
“He was a freshman, had a good season, and has to relearn everything that he’s doing out there,” Fuente said. “On one hand, you can kind of understand how he may be a little be, timid isn’t the right word, how he may be a little bit less confident than he was at the end of last season. I think he is regaining those things. I think he is gaining more confidence in what he is doing.”
One running back Fuente hasn’t mentioned much by name is Marshawn Williams. After rushing for 475 yards as a true freshman in 2014, Williams tore his ACL and hasn’t made it back to the field since. However, Fuente said that Williams has impressed during camp.
“Flashes of a really good, powerful inside runner,” Fuente said of Williams. “He certainly has a chance to help this team. He seems to do something better than the day before every day.”
One position that seems to be locked up at this point is at punt returner, where Greg Stroman has all but guaranteed himself the spot. Stroman is also in the mix at kick returner.
“I don’t imagine, I can’t imagine a scenario where he’s healthy and ready to go that he’s not the punt returner,” Fuente said. “We’ve worked [Der’Woun] Greene, Stroman and a couple of other guys back there at kickoff return, that will be part of the evaluation tomorrow.”
Fuente said that his guys will scrimmage and focus on special teams on Wednesday and run through a “mock weekend” of the regular season.
“We will go through a dress rehearsal of everything we do on Thursday, Friday and ultimately gameday, which is a little bit easier on their legs and their bodies,” Fuente said. “We don’t wear pads, it’s more of a mental deal. We will go to our Friday night meeting and that sort of stuff. It is a true dress rehearsal. Then…we will practice full blown for the first game day of the year.”
The team will have Sunday and Monday off as classes resume next week.