It’s an injury report that reads more like a Stephen King novel.
As of the most recent report, released Tuesday night, Virginia Tech’s horror story is 14 names deep – seven of the injuries being of the season ending variation.
By no means is the injury report or the physical ailments they represent an excuse for Tech’s 4-3 record; neither players nor coaches would make that claim.
Still, a healthier team – one that might look more like what the program envisioned having through seven games – might have this team on a different track.
After losing running back Shai McKenzie for the season (ACL tear) against Western Michigan, the Hokies lost even more depth at tailback against North Carolina. Trey Edmunds broke his clavicle, and the timetable for his return his uncertain. Marshawn Williams also suffered an ankle sprain in that game.
Williams, who wasn’t healthy enough to compete Thursday night versus Pittsburgh, expects to be ready this Thursday against Miami.
“I’m good. I feel great,” Williams said Sunday. “Actually I started to feel better the day of the [Pitt] game. My pain started to go away, my swelling started to go away. I went out there and ran a little bit, I just felt good.”
In a text conversation with running backs coach Shane Beamer after the Pittsburgh game, Williams told Beamer he felt 80 percent. As of Sunday, that number was 87 percent. No higher; no lower.
Williams is listed as probable for Thursday night’s contest, meaning there is a 75 percent chance he will play.
Fellow true freshmen Isaiah Ford and Cam Phillips, a duo that has caught 35 percent of completed passes this season and 54 percent of the touchdowns, are both listed as probable, too.
Ford is battling on ankle injury while an injured toe hampers Phillips.
Whether Ford and Phillips play or Thursday or not, the Hokies expect to see Joshua Stanford return to action for the first time since week three of the season.
Stanford stepped away from the program for reasons that have not been made clear to the media, and worked his way back onto the team by spending time both with trainer Mike Goforth and on the practice squad.
“We think he’s healthy again, which is great,” offensive coordinator Scot Loeffler said. “And that’s the most important thing is Josh’s well being, which is why he left the team. And we wouldn’t have brought him back if we didn’t think anything less than his well being. His well being is good, he’s in a good place and he’s ready to get back on the field.”
For Tech fans, the injury report is just as scary, if not more so, on the other side of the ball.
Cornerback Brandon Facyson, who was so good in his freshman campaign last season, but has struggled first with a hip flexor injury and then a shin issue in 2014, is listed as out for Thursday night.
The plan for Facyson is to sit out the rest of the season, and then apply for a medical hardship waiver (medical redshirt), which would count the 2014 season as a redshirt year. If Facyson plays again this season, which according to Tech coaches would only happen in an emergency situation, he loses eligibility for that medical redshirt.
“There is going to be a pretty good chance at this point in the year, unless something drastic just happens, I think that’ll be the route we end up going,” defensive backs coach Torrian Gray said.
As far as defensive tackle Luther Maddy goes, emergency or not, he is done for the season. Maddy underwent minor knee surgery after the Georgia Tech game and was expected to miss 2-4 weeks. Maddy elected to have an additional procedure, according to Mike Goforth, and is now slated to miss 4-6 months.
Like Facyson, Maddy will apply for a medical redshirt.
Linebacker Chase Williams, who is starting for the first time this season, will also miss Thursday’s game against Miami.
Williams suffered a knee injury against Pittsburgh, and although the redshirt senior is listed as doubtful, defensive coordinator Bud Foster made it quite clear that the linebacker won’t play. In his place, redshirt freshman Andrew Motuapuaka will make his first career start.
“Andrew did a nice job (against Pittsburgh),” Foster said. “He’s a young guy. He is going to get his first start. He’s played about 30 plays max. This is going to be his first time in the hole right now. Where we’re going to miss Chase; Chase is that leader. Even though this is his first year starting, he understands the defense, knows how to communicate and get everybody set up. Right now, Andrew is a little quiet, not a very vocal guy. Probably not a lot of confidence from that standpoint.”
Injuries are not the reason the Hokies ran the ball for 26 yards against Pittsburgh or converted on 2-of-16 third downs. They aren’t why the Hokies defense allowed quarterback Chad Voytik to run for 140 yards.
But they aren’t helping either. And without a bright light at the end of the tunnel as far as injuries go, the Hokies will continue to look toward Motuapuaka and others to pick up where the starters left off.