- - Friday, April 6, 2012

BLACKSBURG, Va. — When the Virginia Tech football team held its first scrimmage of the spring this week, coach Frank Beamer described the performance as “ragged.”

Saturday, the Hokies hope to offer their coach a cleaner effort, especially on the offensive line, the unit that struggled the most in Wednesday’s workout.

“There’s a lot going on,” Beamer said. “You’re trying to work everybody. When you do that, it gets ragged a little bit. Both ways it gets ragged.”

Virginia Tech is replacing four of five starters on the offensive line. Only junior center Andrew Miller returns.

“We’re a new group. We have to get on the same page,” Miller said after the first scrimmage. “You could tell it’s our first time really working together. We have a lot of things we have to work on. We have to build off this scrimmage.”

Saturday, at 10:45 a.m. at Lane Stadium, they’ll get their chance.

The Hokies are turning to older and somewhat experienced players to fill three of the four openings created by the departures of guards Jaymes Brooks and Greg Nosal and tackles Black DeChristoper and Andrew Lanier.

Senior Nick Becton is currently the starting left tackle, playing alongside junior David Wang. Senior Vinston Painter is at right tackle.

“They’ve all seen the field before,” Miller said. “They’re all used to playing. They all have reps on the field at Lane Stadium. Those guys I’m not worried about. It’s just us working as the No. 1 group, working together, that’s a big part of it.”

The biggest question mark is at right guard, where Georgia transfer Brent Benedict is battling sophomore Laurence Gibson.

Benedict redshirted his one year at Georgia and said this spring is his “first taste of live action.”

But Benedict is impressed with his new linemates.

“I think, all the way across the board, all five guys are big, physical guys,” Benedict said. “We lost all four starters from last year. These guys are older and I’m learning a lot from them.”

Apparently after one scrimmage, the group still had a lot to learn.

“We got off to a little bit of a rough start,” offensive line coach Curt Newsome said. “Our production wasn’t very good.”

Saturday, Tech expects to get valuable junior Caleb Farris, a versatile backup center and guard, back. Farris sat out Wednesday’s scrimmage with a knee injury, Newsome said.

Defensively, Tech coordinator Bud Foster said he’s hoping to install more of the defensive scheme today, though he knows that might cause some mix-ups and missed assignments during the scrimmage.

“We’re going to throw a couple more things at them in terms of our installation,” Foster said. “Their minds might tie up their feet a little bit.”

Foster said that, while fans might look at production, he’ll be evaluating different things during today’s scrimmage.

“We’ll run a defense several times just so a kid can see the looks that he needs to see,” Foster said. “This is not about beating our offense. This is about getting guys quality reps so they can see themselves on film, they can grow from it. We’re not playing ourselves. We’re trying to get better.”

Read about the Hokies at VTeffect.com

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