Practice Report: Starting Defense Dominant

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There were encouraging signs, and not so encouraging signs, at the scrimmage on Saturday. But that’s usually the case in scrimmages like this. If one part of the team plays well, then the unit they are going up against makes you worry. There will be no way of knowing what this team is capable of doing until they play a real team.

Special teams appears to be enormously improved. After the blocked kicks last weekend, Eddie Royal returned the opening kickoff of Saturday’s scrimmage for a touchdown. Macho Harris had an impressive punt return. And in my opinion, Brandon Pace and Nic Schmitt are the best kicking combo in the country. Beamer knows the offense may struggle to score this year, so the Hokies are going to need special teams to score again.

The first team defense mauled the first team offense. Nobody could block Chris Ellis. I saw him abuse Brandon Frye on more than one occasion, and he also beat Duane Brown for a sack. Noland Burchette is playing better than I’ve ever seen him play. And Adibi looks much improved. But I thought the best player on the field Saturday was Ellis, hands down.

Glennon only threw one pass downfield, which was a perfect strike to Justin Harper on a corner route. It was the best thrown pass I’ve seen this August. But other than that, Glennon didn’t throw down field much because of an array of wide receiver screens and other short passes. Bryan Stinespring apparently wanted to concentrate on those plays.

Ike was great for the most part. It looked like he spent most of the day working against the backup defense. But he did make one great scramble for a touchdown against the starting defense, avoiding a pass rush by Vince Hall. His touchdown pass to Justin Born was beautiful.

But like last week, he made one bad play, throwing an interception to defensive end Orion Martin that was returned for a touchdown. But also note that the play didn’t count, because Kent Hicks was offsides on a corner blitz and Hicks blasted Whitaker as he released the ball. I’d like to see Whitaker get some snaps with the first team offense to see what he can do, but I guess that competition is over with, for now.

I do think Whitaker should backup Glennon. Holt is talented, but he just doesn’t seem to make the offense go like Whitaker does. Part of me also thinks Whitaker may be the best man for the starting job. But I also realize that he’s

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