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Hokies ready to make another ACC title run?

It’s fourth-and-four. Danny Coale has just caught a pass over the middle and been flattened to the ground by a linebacker.

Normally a wide receiver does everything he can do to drag himself off the field so the punt unit can do its thing. But Coale, a senior from Lexington, might very well be the punter for Virginia Tech this fall.

So, Danny, what’s the call?

“Go for it,” Coale said, smiling, at today’s ACC Football Kickoff in Pinehurst, N.C.

Coale isn’t set at punter just yet, but he is battling for the number-one spot on the depth chart. The pending fall camp competition hasn’t come at the expense of what Coale needs to do to get ready at wide receiver – not yet.

“I’ve probably run more routes offseason than I ever have. And on top of that I’m doing some punting, too. So it hasn’t taken away from my wide-receiver duties yet. It’s just something a little bit extra that I’ve had to practice,” Coale said.

As for the scenario involving him having to get up after making a tough catch and having to go punt, Coale said “those are situations we’re not really going to know until game time.”

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We asked Coale about the change in quarterback necessitated by the graduation of NFL-bound Tyrod Taylor, who had started at signal-caller at Virginia Tech since midway through his true-freshman year.

Logan Thomas, a 6-6, 245-pound physical specimen, takes over for the more lithe 6-1, 205-pound Taylor. The differences are as keen as the differences between Taylor and the man he unseated for the quarterback job, 6-4, 225-pound Sean Glennon.

“It’s going to look different. It’s kind of weird to think about. It’s the first time in three years that it’s going to be drastically different,” Coale said.

A writer asked Coale if it was fair that people assume that Thomas will walk in and be an elite-level quarterback from day one.

“He’s going to be a really great quarterback for Virginia Tech when it’s all said and done. Is he going to have some bumps along the way? Sure, everyone has. Everybody’s had those games. His approach is right. His athletic ability, the ability to play quarterback, they’re all there. He’s definitely going to have some bumps along the way, but when it’s all said and done, he’s going to be pretty good,” Coale said.

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As the starting free safety, Eddie Whitley is the quarterback of the Virginia Tech defense. Whitley admittedly had a tough go of it in Tech’s 40-12 loss to Stanford in the Orange Bowl in January. With several players playing out of position due to a rash of late-season injuries, Whitley was spending as much time trying to direct teammates to their proper positioning in Bud Foster’s defensive schemes as he was trying to figure out and stop what Andrew Luck and Jim Harbaugh were trying to do to pick the Hokies apart.

A solid spring has Whitley feeling much more comfortable heading into his senior season.

“Just getting more comfortable making plays. When the ball’s in the air, looking at it like it’s mine,” Whitley said in response to a question on his focus heading into the fall.

“Last year I was more – I’d try to hit the receiver, try to knock it out, put him out, things like that. Coach (Torrian) Gray got on me a little bit, saying, Your tackling is good, your leadership is good, but you need to make more plays.”

Reporting and videos by Chris Graham. Chris can be reached at augustafreepress2@gmail.com.


augusta free press
augusta free press