April 26, 2014

VT Sputters In Spring Game

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As has been customary at Virginia Tech in recent years, the defense showed why it will once again be the strength of the Hokies in 2014 at the annual Spring Game Saturday afternoon. A total of 10 points were scored between the two offenses, as the White team was able to come out on top 7-3 over Maroon.

Still, coach Frank Beamer was optimistic afterward. And there were some bright spots to build on, offensively, defensively and on special teams.

"I really like our football team," Beamer said. "I like the way we practiced this Spring, I thought the effort was good today, the execution just wasn't what you would want sometimes. We're going through some growing pains. A couple of great plays there today, we still have some questions regarding our football team. But I think we're going in a good direction.

Running back Joel Caleb scored the game's only touchdown on a 27-yard run, and was Virginia Tech's best offensive weapon on the day, racking up 43 yards on 6 carries. Maroon receiver Willie Byrn added a one-handed circus catch, but that was most of the offensive highlights as the two defenses allowed 306 total yards. Cornerbacks Kendall Fuller and Donovan Riley each added interceptions.

The White team, led by quarterback Brenden Motley, tight end Bucky Hodges (3 catches, 24 yards) and Caleb, went on a 5-play, 87-yard scoring drive to open the game. Wide receiver Demitri Knowles broke free for a 52-yard end around, and Caleb exploded through the middle to score from 27 yards out.

"I feel like running back is my position," Caleb said after a few years of moving around at different positions. "I was pleased with today's performance, but I know I still have a lot of work to do. I have to just keep getting better as the summer goes on and hopefully I can make an impact."

However, that was as good as either of the offenses would look against both of defensive coordinator Bud Foster's units. Each team was scattered with first-teamers, so there was no discernible difference or advantages between the maroon and white.

Kicker Eric Kristensen hit a 28-yard field goal for the Maroon team as the first quarter expired, but the defenses held the offenses to zero points over the rest of the game. The defense has to replace a ton of starters, but the group proved that they will be one of the better units in the country, as usual.

"I'm confident in our entire front," linebacker Deon Clarke said. "It's huge that we have so much depth, and we showed that today. Everybody has to know the calls, the reads, and everything we're trying to do. All of the guys stepping into new roles are ready to make an impact."

Motley led the way for the quarterbacks, going 6-11 for 72 yards (1 INT) while he also had a 19-yard TD run called back because of holding. Quarterback Mark Leal went 9-15 for 81 yards. Neither one separated himself from the group, and that battle is sure to heat up over the course of summer.

"I think we've got to take a direction and move in that direction and not take long," Beamer said. "I think it's one of those deals that whoever it's going to be needs to get a lot of reps in preseason practice."

In a game that annually doesn't offer much of a look into the fall season, there weren't a ton of answers found. But the defense looks to be dominant as usual, even with plenty of questions to be answered in August practice.

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