Virginia Tech Continuing to Scrimmage as Quarterback Battle Heats Up

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2016.08.14. Virginia Tech (Hokies) Football Team Media Day. Blacksburg, VA.
Josh Jackson (17), Brenden Motley (9) and Jerod Evans (4) are all battling for the starting quarterback job for Virginia Tech.

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.

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26 Responses You are logged in as Test

  1. “…. Fuente isn’t going to play a guy just because he’s older. He’ll play whoever he feels is the best player, regardless if that guy is younger and regardless of whether or not the older player is a returning starter”

    I don’t mind this philosophy. I felt like last year, for example, we played the senior defensive lineman, despite them being undersized and banged up, too many snaps when compared to their backups.

  2. I remember thinking Stroman ran side to side a lot and brought a lot of kickoffs out of the endzone only to be stopped at the 13 – 15 yard line but I don’t want to throw him under the bus if my memory is the issue. Does anyone have any stats on what kind of return yardage he had last year? I know at Duke the Tech fans cheered when the returner finally took a knee in the endzone. Thought it was Stroman but could be wrong.

    1. Stroman didn’t return kickoffs last year. Only returned punts. Stroman returned one kickoff in 2014.

      For 2015, Stroman averaged 7.3 yards per return on punts.

  3. Do you think the team will continue to go to Roanoke the night before home games as in the past?

  4. ok, not nice to ignore the 4th guy in the picture……. who is #11…… give him a little recognition.

    1. That’s Jack Click. As far as we know, he has not worked himself into the starting quarterback battle.

      Yet.

  5. I think it’s funny that Coach Beamer said that Stroman was to “slight of build” for kick returner, but there ya go…Shibest/Fuente says he’s going to work back there….interesting…

    1. I don’t have Stroman’s numbers, last year compared to this year, but a lot (most) (all) of the guys made themselves better by either losing or gaining weight during the off season.

      1. According to TSL rosters he gained seven pounds (to 180) while shrinking an inch (to six feet).

    2. meh, it’s just different philosophies from one coach to another, nothing more IMO. Some coaches prefer big guys back there, some prefer fast guys back there. it’s far from the biggest philosophical difference between the two 🙂

      Also, it’s hard to say what numbers are truly accurate, but stroman was listed at 160 in the spring of 2015, then around 170 in the fall, and now around 180. So he’s definitely thickened up a bit over the years.

  6. I don’t think any of our running backs need to rush things. We have enough capable guys that we are bound to have some good luck (better conditioning?) this time around. At least a couple guys will emerge.

  7. Was it Stroman last year who always fielded KOs side to side vs straight up the field? drawing a blank here, but I remember someone who never seemed to hit the seam and danced around a lot.

  8. Ricky / Staff,

    No offense, but how is this article any different than what you guys just put out regarding the QB battle? Seems like the same information to me repackaged again. I don’t see the difference / added value.

      1. Gah. You’re absolutely right. I got the same info from another source and linked the two together.

        Please disregard!

        1. No worries. Just has a couple of extra quotes left over from last night that I thought were importtant, as well as the other information regarding practice plans, Travon and Marshawn.

  9. I keep seeing in my mind’s eye Stroman’s punt return in the spring game last year, him just running away down the sideline. Everytime I think of Stroman I think of that punt return. He da’ man!

    1. I hope that Shibest coaches him to take the fair catch more often, lol. Stroman takes some unnecessary hits on some returns. He’s got that big-play ability, but I want him to last too.

      1. Need to “know when to fold up – know when to hold up – know when to walk away and know when to run”…

      2. well, returning kickoffs probably isn’t the recipe to “make him last” haha! though at least he’s up to 180 lbs now.

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