BLACKSBURG – Standing next to David Wilson on Virginia Tech's sideline Saturday during the spring game, Trey Edmunds sponged up every bit of advice Wilson was willing to offer.
As one of the running backs that will be responsible for trying to revive Tech's dormant ground game, Edmunds needs all the help he can get, but he's not the only one. Tech and new offensive coordinator Scot Loeffler still have a long way to go before they can say they have found the spark that's missing in the backfield.
"Work, work, work," said Edmunds of his plans for the summer after having eight carries for just 11 yards in the spring game, which Tech's White team of backups won 27-9 against the Orange team of starters – after the White team was spotted 13 points to start the game.
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- Frank Beamer
Lane Stadium, 285 Spring Road, Blacksburg, VA 24060
"I'm not disappointed. Of course, I was hoping to break a run or get more yards. That's any running back, but I'm not disappointed. I know what I can do."
Edmunds, a 6-foot-1, 215-pound redshirt freshman, teamed with Michael Holmes and J.C. Coleman in the first team backfield to have 17 combined runs for just 34 yards. Holmes led the trio with seven carries for a mere 24 yards.
The running game wasn't the only anemic characteristic of Tech's first team offense, but it's rightfully a significant concern for Tech coach Frank Beamer. He has yet to reveal which of the backs will get most of the reps when preseason practice begins in August.
"I thought there would be more running plays that would pop for more yardage," said Beamer, whose offense played Saturday with less than a quarter of its playbook installed.
"We've got a long personnel meeting on Monday. We're going to discuss all those things. I think it's very clear that we've got to get a couple guys and let them work, and we're going to get there."
While the running backs struggled against the second and third team defenses, starting quarterback Logan Thomas also had a mediocre day. He completed 16 of 29 passes for 214 yards and three interceptions, two of which were returned for a 98-yard touchdown by safety Der'Woun Greene and a 53-yard touchdown by cornerback Donovan Riley.
Tech's offense, including first teamers and backups, was a combined 3 of 23 on third-down opportunities. Just like in scrimmages leading up to the spring game, Tech's running in short yardage situations left a lot to be desired.
Edmunds had a chance to score on the Orange team's first drive of the game, but he was stuffed for a 5-yard loss on third-and-goal from the 1. Thomas threw his first interception of the game to Greene on the next play.
"Everything," said Edmunds regarding what he needs to improve. "I definitely need to get in the playbook more…Just little things, but they'll add up to be big things."
Wilson, a former Tech running back great who now plays for the New York Giants and who is from Edmunds' hometown of Danville, paid close attention to how patient Edmunds was on running plays with the ball in his hands. He wasn't patient enough on one particular play, and Wilson let him know about it by telling Edmunds he cut back too soon.
"With him being the hometown guy, I talk to him often," Edmunds said. "He was telling me some things I could do to hopefully break another one."
In the second quarter, Edmunds ripped through the right side of the line for what appeared to be a 36-yard gain to the White team's 12, but the play was negated by a holding penalty on right tackle Laurence Gibson. Holmes had a 10-yard run that served as the longest run of the game.
Holmes, a 6-foot-0, 215-pound sophomore, and Coleman, a 5-8, 177-pound sophomore, led Tech in carries by running backs last season, but neither enjoyed much sustained success. Tech finished 79th in the nation in rushing offense (145.9 yards per game) out of 120 Bowl Subdivision programs.
Thomas led the team with 524 rushing yards, while Coleman had 109 carries for 492 yards and Holmes had 70 carries for 280 yards. Tony Gregory, who will be back for his senior season but who has been plagued by knee injuries throughout his career, had 64 carries for 299 yards last season.
"One of the things I think I've gotten better at is kind of being a leader," Holmes said. "I kind of played last year, so I've been kind of getting all the young bucks together and keep getting them to work hard."
Edmunds believes he picked up a lot last season while redshirting. At one point, he wasn't so sure redshirting was such a good idea, but his opinion changed.
"I used to think that, but now I think that redshirting was the best thing that could've ever happened to me," Edmunds said. "Of course, a part of me is going to say I didn't want to sit the whole season out. I wanted to play. Who wouldn't want to play?"