Virginia Tech Notebook: Replacing Terrell Edmunds and Kickstarting the Offense

Virginia Tech football
Josh Jackson (17) and the Virginia Tech offense have struggled in recent weeks. Can they get things going on Saturday vs. Pittsburgh? (Photo by Ivan Morozov)

Before reading today’s content, let’s hit on some housekeeping items.

Virginia Tech football picked up a commitment for the Class of 2018 on Tuesday, adding Keshon Artis into the fold. You can read more on Artis here.

TSL’s game preview, courtesy of Chris Coleman, is also live. Be sure to read that before Saturday. 

Also, former football head coach Frank Beamer and former baseball coach Chuck Hartman will both be inducted into the 2018 Virginia Sports Hall of Fame Class. While Beamer’s accomplishments are well-documented, Hartman is the winningest coach in Virginia Tech baseball history, going 961-591-8 in his 28 seasons in Blacksburg. The two will be inducted on April 7, 2018.

Now, let’s dive into the notebook.

Virginia Tech’s options to replace Terrell Edmunds

Virginia Tech football announced on Tuesday after their normal press availability that safety Terrell Edmunds will miss the rest of the season with a left shoulder injury. Edmunds, a redshirt-junior who has made 31 career starts, has been a leader for the Hokies’ secondary all season.

The media did conduct a couple of interviews after the news was announced, and senior receiver Cam Phillips said that while Edmunds’ injury in a huge loss, Tech has to replace him the best they can.

“I mean it sucks, but it’s next guy up. There’s nothing we can do about it now,” Phillips said. “So the guys that are behind him are going to have to do a good job taking reps and watching film, doing the things that he did that made him a good player, and an asset out there for us on defense.”

“(Edmunds) is a leader for us,” said Travon McMillian. “He’s a playmaker. What Coach said was that we’re a team, and the next guy has to be ready to play. So, whoever that next guy is, I’m sure he’ll be ready.”

With Edmunds out of the lineup, Virginia Tech must find a new free safety. Fortunately for the Hokies, they have a couple of options. Whip/nickelback Mook Reynolds has experience playing the position, and could give Tech a veteran presence at the position. If Reynolds were to move to free safety, redshirt-senior Deon Newsome would likely take over at whip/nickelback. Redshirt-freshman Khalil Ladler could also play the free safety, and has looked good in limited time this season.

Fuente and Co. determined to get offense clicking

The Virginia Tech offense is in a bit of a slump. Virginia Tech hasn’t scored more than 24 points since their 59-7 drubbing of North Carolina on Oct. 21, and is averaging just 278.5 yards of offense in their last two games. The Hokies scored 22 points last Saturday vs. Georgia Tech, but six of those came on an interception return for a touchdown.

On Monday, head coach Justin Fuente said that while he may not be “frustrated” with the team’s offensive performance in recent weeks, he understand things have to improve, and quickly.

“I’ve been through tough times, but I always stop short of that word, quite honestly,” Fuente said. “Like, I just don’t think it’s our job to be frustrated. It’s our job to try and create solutions, and our job to teach and our job to try and get our guys to play to the best of their ability, and put them in as many good situations as we possibly can. It’s just different, when you’ve got different people who have different strengths and weaknesses, and trying to capitalize on those vs. what you’re seeing week in and week out. I would not use the word frustrated. A point of emphasis? Yes.”

Virginia Tech’s struggles on offense can be traced to several factors. For one, quarterback Josh Jackson is pretty banged up at this point in the season. Jackson has been dealing with a left foot and right shoulder injury, and entered the week of preparation for Georgia Tech feeling pretty sore. However, on Tuesday, Jackson said he’s been able to heal up a bit.

“I feel good. I feel a lot better this week,” Jackson said. “Didn’t have to run the ball as much, so that felt good, and yeah, I feel a lot better.”

Jackson’s lingering injuries led the Hokies to use backup quarterback AJ Bush a few times vs. the Yellow Jackets last weekend. Bush did not attempt a pass, but did carry the ball four times for 11 yards. It was the first action Bush has seen all season in a non-garbage time situation.

“We made the decision going into last week to let AJ get in there and carry the ball a couple times. That wasn’t an indictment on Josh’s performance. I think it was just more of how he felt through the week, and trying to lighten the load on him a little bit,” Fuente said.

Is there a chance Virginia Tech could employ Bush more frequently down the stretch? Possibly.

“Yeah, I don’t know. We’ll see,” Fuente said of Bush. “I would certainly say it’s a possibility. I would stop short of saying — first, I would say we haven’t had that conversation yet, just in the week. But, I just don’t know if that’s something we’ll do moving forward or not.”

The offense has also struggled because of the receivers. Virginia Tech has been unable to win many one-on-one matchups in recent weeks, making it extremely difficult for Jackson and Co. to move the ball through the air.

“There’s a lot of plays to be made on my part,” said senior receiver Cam Phillips. “Really, that’s it. I mean, just a lot of plays to be made. Attention to detail needs to be a lot better. Then really, just focusing on making those plays whenever we get the chance, whether that’s ball in the air, making a guy miss, getting the right leverage on a block, just certain things like that.

“The plays are out there. On my end, the ball is up there, it doesn’t matter who it is in the one-on-one matchup. I’m supposed to make those plays, regardless if it’s Clemson or it’s ECU, or Georgia Tech. It doesn’t matter. The coaches call the plays because they have the confidence, solely speaking on me and my part, because they have trust in me that I can go out and make those plays, and I haven’t been doing that the last few weeks.”

Jackson shouldered some of the blame as well, saying he needs to be more accurate with his throws and give his receivers more opportunities.

“I’ve got to give the guys a chance, and they’ve got to go make plays,” Jackson said. “There’s a couple of times I didn’t give (Eric) Kumah really a chance to catch it in bounds, and there was an out-route I threw to Cam that was a little wide. That’s just on me.”

23 Responses You are logged in as Test

  1. Pitt is always good on the line. They usually have physical RB’s. They just play a big time muscle game all around and they have skill guys on offense that can make plays. It is a mash game against them every year. The key to playing Pitt is having good depth on both sides of the ball because they are going to play physical and guys are going to feel it. This is why I think it is always a tough game for us because our depth has not been there for a long time.We have more talent than they do but talent gets tired when they are hit over and over again.

  2. Hope they don’t pound Bush into a great rush D this week. That wouldn’t be smart. If they let him in they need to allow him to throw the ball. IIRC he had a couple nice throws vs UNC

  3. It’s all about recruiting. The best teams have the best recruits period. If we want better results it all starts with who you recruit. Some players can be coached up but to win consistently you have to have the horses. Good news we have been recruiting better lately. Fuente deserves plenty of time.

  4. regarding the 1-on-1 WR matchups and getting open thing….. GT defenders often played 5-10 yards off of WRs at the snap. Whether or not WRs were open downfield, they were often open at the snap so it just depended on what routes ran them right into defenders or if adjustments were or were not made to take what the defense gave them like earlier in the year. So just saying WRs were open a lot against GT.

  5. Remember last year our leading rusher was the qb/Evans … we have a qb that cannot do that…not Jacksons fault but that’s where we are….we are going to need a qb that makes up for the limitations of our offensive line….I just think that’s who we are with this offense…. next years offense will be much better on paper 😋

    1. Saying the O will be better next year on paper doesn’t generate much confidence for me. Games aren’t won on paper.

      1. Would you feel better about that paper winning a game with say, Alabama’s roster? Or, how about the paper that has more juniors and seniors in the lineup compared to nearly all underclassmen at skill positions? Bigger stronger and experienced players will generally win actual games.

          1. Crossword puzzles and tick tack toe…..I think some of the receivers have a chance to be explosive…..transfers and those recovering from injury ……if Jackson is the qb then he is a year more experienced…..hoping the offensive line can hold steady…..just do not have much receiver depth this year so maybe I’m just optimistic

    2. Curious why you think the offense will be better on paper next year. We lose Teller plus two other starting OL, and Cam. The QB will still only be Sophomore. The receivers will be a year older, but I don’t see any of them truly scaring defenses yet. Our TE’s have gone invisible in the last few games. The only place we will be loaded with upperclassman talent is RB, and our running game is inconsistent at best.

      Personally, I’m expecting a step backwards next year.

      1. Yep. The O line is not great as it is now, and we lose Teller. So, we replace the three linemen we lose with guys who haven’t seen any meaningful snaps. Perhaps their potential will be greater but there is no reason to expect them to hit the ground running.

  6. At this point, get healthy and focus on the French. Would rather lose by 50 this weekend and beat them than the other way around.

  7. When has Mook ever played safety?
    I recall they mentioned him possibly moving there, but I am not aware of him ever playing there (other than maybe practice).

          1. I’ve got the exact same question about Devon Hunter. He will probably be good, but I’m really disappointed that after he would “press for starting time” pre-season predictions, now with two safeties down – Divine and Terrell, he isn’t even mentioned as a possible replacement.

            What’s up with that?

    1. He has experience playing both rover and FS, albeit limited. Probably more experience playing those two positions in practice than actual in-game experience.

  8. The biggest problem is, to be blunt, a very sub-par offensive line. I saw the other day that we are last in the ACC in rushing or yards/carry or both. Yes we do not have at this time a dynamic running back but it seems that the line cannot get out of its own way. Unfortunately this is not an easy or quick fix and may plague us again next year.

  9. Josh should have been out of the Miami game when it was out of reach. Very poor coaching decision to get him more beat up for no reason. It may have been the difference from winning and losing the Georgia Tech game.

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