With RB Holmes out, Hokies face uphill battle in backfield
JUL 11, 2013 8:18p ET
As a redshirt freshman, Holmes started five games and had 70 rushing attempts for 280 yards and four touchdowns. But he really came on during spring practice this year, and was listed as a possible second-string back along with a few others. The only other back on the roster with more carries was projected starter J.C. Coleman (109 rushes for 492 yards).
Mere hours after Holmes led all rushers in Virginia Tech’s spring game with 24 yards, though, he was arrested after a fight outside of a bar in downtown Blacksburg. The incident was pretty complicated -- suffice it to say that Holmes was coming to the aid of his girlfriend -- but, according to Commonwealth Attorney Mary Pettitt’s statement, Holmes “exceeded his right to come to her defense” when he continued to hit the man “after he was no longer attacking anyone."
Still, Holmes ended up being convicted of a misdemeanor in June (rather than a felony, which is what he was initially charged with), meaning he still had a chance to stay on the team. After his conviction, the decision went to the Virginia Tech student conduct committee. Had that group chosen to simply suspend Holmes, athletic director Jim Weaver could have possibly reinstated him.
But that’s not what happened. According to a statement put out by Weaver on Tuesday, the committee ruled that Holmes would be “permanently separated from the university."
So his Virginia Tech career is done.
But what it means going forward for the Hokies is hard to say. Coleman might be last year’s leading rusher (well, quarterback Logan Thomas actually led the team with 529 yards, but Coleman was the leading tailback). But his 429 yards were the fewest by a leading tailback for the Hokies since 1967, according to the Daily Press’ David Teel. That’s ... not good.
Other than Coleman, it will fall to two redshirt freshmen (Trey Edmunds and Chris Mangus) to pick up the slack where Holmes’ experience might have paid off. Those two combined for three yards on 11 carries in the spring game.
Senior Tony Gregory did have 64 carries for 299 yards and one touchdown last year, and he was listed as a possible No. 2 back as well.
Daniel Dyer, who was last on the depth chart, had seven spring game carries for 12 yards. That’s six more carries and 11 more yards than he had the rest of his career combined.
That’s what the Hokies are working with in the backfield at the moment. And then there’s the added problem of Virginia Tech opening its season on August 31 against reigning national champion Alabama. Oh, and Alabama just so happens to have one of the best defenses in the nation. Again.
Based on the spring game offensive numbers, first-year offensive coordinator Scot Loeffler -- and the rest of the Hokies -- will already have their hands full. Thomas will be a senior, but he’s coming off a down year and some spring struggles of his own.
Thomas can’t be expected to carry the rushing load for Virginia Tech yet again this year. He’s a big quarterback (6-foot-6, 260 pounds), but it will probably only be a matter of time before he gets hurt if he is Virginia Tech’s only rushing threat.
Holmes’ arrest and subsequent dismissal from school is far more serious than the implications on the Hokies’ football season. But from a Virginia Tech football perspective only, it certainly doesn’t help matters in a backfield filled with more questions than answers.
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