Despite running backs coach Shane Beamer admitting this week that the rushing game isn’t where he would like it to be, the backfield rotation will remain the same Saturday.
“I heard from plenty of people after the game about our running back rotation and our use of them,” Beamer said. “To me, it is what it is. It’s the same rotation it was three weeks ago. Shai and Marhsawn are our top two, they alternate every series.
“When Shai starts a series, he’s going to finish a series. When Marshawn starts a series, he’s going to finish a series. Unless, we call a different personnel grouping because we want to get someone else in, or they need a blow.”
Beamer noted one particular series when McKenzie came out for Williams as the Hokies faced a third-and-one. That, Beamer said, was McKeznie asking for a breather after he slightly rolled his ankle, and not a planned swap.
Tech ranks 89th in the nation on the ground, averaging 141.3 rushing yards per game. It averages 3.2 yards per carry against FBS opponents this season,
“It’s a progress. It’s nowhere near what we want it to be. Beamer said. “I think we threw it 40 Saturday, 39 times, we have to do what we have to do to win, but ideally we’re going to be a better offense if we don’t have to throw it 40 times.
“We have running backs that get better as the game goes on. I think they are physical guys that can weigh defenses down. So we have to continue to give those guys the ball,” Beamer said. “We talked about it as a staff. We’d like to run the ball even more than what we did on Saturday against Georgia Tech. But like I said, we have to do what we have to do to win games.”
Offensive coordinator Scot Loeffler echoed Beamer’s mentality. Loeffler said there were more planned runs than it seemed against Georgia Tech – some had to be checked out of at the line because of defensive alignments, but he’d still like to see the running backs shoulder more of the load.
“(We’re) not there yet. We’re not,” Loeffler said. “If so, we wouldn’t be talking about it. We wouldn’t be talking about it if we were exactly where we wanted to be. But we’ll get there. We’ve made improvement. Is it 100 percent? No. Absolutely not.”
The two starters, McKenzie and Williams, ran the ball 12 and 10 times, respectively Saturday. Next most for a running back – Brewer called his own number four times – was Trey Edmunds, who, depending on who is asked, is still not back to 100 percent after breaking his leg last season against Virginia.
Frank Beamer has said he doesn’t think Edmunds has the same burst and explosiveness as he did before the injury. Shane Beamer said sometimes he sees the old Edmunds; sometimes he doesn’t. Edmunds though, who ran for 10 yards on his two carries, believes he’s fully healthy.
“I feel like my old self out there,” Edmunds said. “I’ve been waiting for this moment for a long time. Just to go out and be able to help my team on offense running the ball. I felt good, no pain whatsoever and hopefully I can continue to get them.”
“(The coaches) may see something different that I don’t see. All I can do is just work hard to get that extra burst. Just speaking from a running back standpoint, we’re definitely putting in the work. I’m just trying to do whatever I can for the team.”