Early look at Virginia Tech

Before the season started, the least of Virginia Tech's concerns might have been its depth at wide receiver.

As they head into Atlantic Coast Conference play, the Hokies are now trying to scrounge up anyone they can find.

Already without Dyrell Roberts (broken arm) for the season, Tech played Saturday's 30-10 non-conference win at Marshall without all-time leading receiver Jarrett Boykin (hamstring), who was injured during practice.

It then saw Marcus Davis sprain his foot in the first half and play just briefly after halftime before sitting out the game's remainder. Junior D.J. Coles, who replaced Boykin and made his first career start, stayed in despite a shoulder injury.

"We were talking about who was going to be our No. 6 receiver in preseason," coach Frank Beamer said, "and towards the end today, we were just trying to find three."

Redshirt junior Corey Fuller was the third one, earning significant playing time in the second half and catching his first career pass for seven yards in the fourth quarter.

Tack on other injuries like quarterback Logan Thomas' left shoulder and cornerback Jayron Hosley's foot, and you have a team which will head into next week's ACC opener against Clemson at less than 100 percent.

The coaches hope that Boykin can return, but if he can't, they'll need Coles to continue to play despite his injury -- one he originally sustained in a season-opening rout of Appalachian State. If Saturday's post-game comments were any indication, that won't be a problem for Coles.

"Being injured and being hurt are two different things," he said. "I've been waiting for this opportunity. It's going to take more than what I had today to keep me out of a game."

MONDAY NOTES: Talk about making someone totally one-dimensional. The Hokies wouldn't let Marshall run the ball, limiting it to six yards on 24 rushes. While five sacks are figured in that total, it was still an impressive display by the front seven, which consistently whipped the Thundering Herd off the ball.

* Holder Trey Gresh made the season's hustle play in the first quarter. After Cody Journell's extra point was blocked, Monterius Lovett raced down the right side, headed for a two-point defensive score. But Gresh ran him down, tripping him up at the 15-yard line and saving the team two points after a review confirmed Lovett's knee hit the turf. The play earned Gresh a special teams game ball.


Virginia Tech RB David Wilson is seventh in the nation in rushing with 129 yards per game. (Getty Images)
* DEs J.R. Collins and James Gayle thoroughly dominated Marshall's offensive tackles, combining for four sacks and five quarterback hurries. Collins had 2 1/2. They never let freshman QB Rakeem Cato get comfortable in the pocket.

KEEP AN EYE ON: WR D.J. Coles -- In his first career start, the junior showed he's certainly worthy of a second, taking advantage of lax coverage to catch eight passes for 66 yards. Filling in for the injured Jarrett Boykin, Coles soldiered on through the game despite aggravating a shoulder injury in the first half.

LOOKING GOOD: The Hokies achieved nearly perfect offensive balance, running for 215 yards and passing for 229. Other than tossing a fourth quarter interception and costing his team a chance to kick a field goal at the first half gun with an inaccurate read, QB Logan Thomas managed the game nicely and took what the defense gave him. Tech's run defense was excellent and forced the Herd to become one-dimensional, allowing the pass rush to devour Cato at times. LBs Bruce Taylor and Tariq Edwards continued their excellent early-season work.

STILL NEEDS WORK: Mental mistakes continue to plague the team, as do inconsistencies in the kicking game. Coach Frank Beamer had to bench P Scott Demler at halftime after he shanked a 25-yarder -- the fourth straight week he's had a punt of 30 yards or less. The Hokies left points on the board with two fourth-quarter turnovers and K Cody Journell's third missed field goal in as many weeks. And the pass defense had its first extended hiccups of the year, particularly during Marshall's 71-yard, 38-second TD drive just before halftime.

QUOTE TO NOTE: "They were bailing out at the snap. I love getting the chance to make plays one-on-one. That's what football is all about -- going one-on-one with a guy in space. Most cornerbacks don't like to tackle, and with my size, I like my chances." -- WR D.J. Coles, who's 6-foot-3 and 224 pounds, after his big game at Marshall.

PLAYER NOTES: WR Danny Coale keeps climbing up the school's all-time receiving charts after a second straight seven-catch game, good for 107 yards. Coale moved into fourth place in career receptions (123) and fifth in career yardage (2,039), passing former program greats like Antonio Freeman, Eddie Royal, Andre Davis and Josh Morgan.

* FS Antone Exum extended the Hokies' string of consecutive games with interceptions to 11 when he picked off Rakeem Cato in the second half and returned it 36 yards. Exum took advantage of pressure from DE James Gayle, who forced a back-foot throw.

* WR Corey Fuller, forced into more playing time by a slew of injuries at his position, notched his first career catch, good for seven yards in the fourth quarter. Fuller might have a bigger role next week against Clemson if the likes of Jarrett Boykin (hamstring) and Marcus Davis (foot) can't return.

* QB Logan Thomas (shoulder) played through pain before sitting out the last two minutes in favor of redshirt freshman Mark Leal. Thomas wasn't able to hand off left-handed, instead performing back-handed handoffs with his right hand on running plays to the right.

* CB Jayron Hosley (foot) toughed it out despite not being at 100 percent. Hosley was beaten on a few plays but did contribute a forced fumble and fumble recovery to wipe out a big play for Marshall in the first quarter.

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