Hokies turn to young QB, inexperienced wideouts vs. Purdue
Virginia Tech's Frank Beamer would love to have a rotation of experienced wide receivers, especially now that an injury to quarterback Michael Brewer has forced the coach to turn to inexperienced Brenden Motley as his starter.
The Hokies (1-1) have relied heavily on starters Isaiah Ford and Cam Phillips through two games, and will continue looking to work younger wideouts into the lineup when they play at Purdue (1-1) on Saturday.
''I think it's a work in progress right now,'' Beamer said. ''I think those first two are really good.''
Beamer also likes his trio of tight ends. The Hokies have split the most athletic of the three, Bucky Hodges, out as a wide receiver on occasion. Beamer acknowledges he has concerns about Ford and Phillips wearing down.
''I think it kind of gets back to the game plan and hopefully some guys are going to come through, and if they don't, I think we've got to start game-planning a little bit to save those guys,'' Beamer said this week.
Ford and Phillips played virtually every snap in the opener against Ohio State, then played extensively against Furman. Ford leads the Hokies with eight catches, Phillips is second with seven. The only other wideouts with a reception, Kevin Assante and Demitri Knowles, caught one pass each in Virginia Tech's 42-3 win against Furman.
Ford believes the younger receivers need to get better at paying attention to little things.
''In the receiver room, we have a lot of talent in there, but it's just paying attention to the details and the little things that can cause wins and losses,'' the sophomore said. ''As we've seen it last year, it was a couple of games that we lost, six. Four or five of those games we lost because of the minor details.''
Those details include blocking downfield to help the running game, being threats when left in one-on-one coverage and having earned the confidence of Motley, who had thrown just three college passes before Brewer broke his collarbone in the loss to Ohio State.
''I think our receivers help us, because those young guys and Hodges, I think it's just hard to leave them one-on-one,'' Beamer said, adding praise for how Motley responded to his first start last week. He finished 16 for 24 for 233 yards and two touchdowns, both to Ford. He also ran for 38 yards and did not throw an interception.
Purdue is bracing for a dual-threat.
''They've got the new quarterback in there and he's doing a good job of making the throws,'' Boilermakers coach Darrell Hazell said. ''And anytime you've got a guy that can run the ball, you have to be aware of where he is at all times, so that's what we have to do on the defensive side.''
But going on the road is a different animal, Beamer said, and so Saturday will be telling.
''The quarterback, and of course that's the element right now that ... how's it going to be this week? But I didn't think he flinched last week,'' Beamer said. ''I didn't think he did. I don't think he'll flinch this week.''
Motley might also benefit from the Hokies policy to take their quarterbacks with them on road trips. The idea is to let them see what a hostile environment looks life, and how the Hokies have to adapt to it.
''So he's been through a lot of that,'' Beamer said. ''And he's made out of the right stuff. He's smart. He's in control. He's calm. He's not going to get all crazy on you. And I think that offensive team picks up on that.''