Five days ago, the Virginia Tech Hokies opened the season against the #1 Ohio State Buckeyes in Lane Stadium and while they were able to put up a fight and hold a halftime lead, the Buckeyes pulled away in the second half to a 42-24 victory.
Unfortunately, the Hokies also left the game with a major injury problem as Michael Brewer suffered a broken left collarbone. Brewer will be out 4-8 weeks with the potential for him to return as soon as the Hokies’ game against N.C. State. In the meantime, Brenden Motley will be the starting quarterback, but there could be some pressure put on him.
Now, the Hokies have a chance to get younger backups plenty of playing time as long as they take care of business early against FCS Furman. Here is our look at three players to keep an eye on in what may be a soggy afternoon in Blacksburg.
QB Dwayne Lawson
The freshman quarterback didn’t play against Ohio State, but the Hokies have some packages for Dwayne Lawson and will definitely put him out there a lot against the Paladins. Lawson has been biding his time on the bench, but his college debut will happen in this game, and it may be while the game is still close.
Lawson has tremendous athletic talent and an impressive arm, but Lawson still needs more time to learn the full playbook after only just arriving in August. However, Scot Loeffler is going to do what he can to find a way to get Lawson on the field, and take advantage of his tremendous talent.
Lawson has bulked up almost 40 pounds since arriving on campus, which in most cases would seem to be conceringly high but in this case is a very good thing. Lawson is also a hard-working, tough player that loves the game, and will give everything he’s got, even against a team from FCS like Furman.
Lawson has a bright future ahead, and we will learn a lot about Scot Loeffler’s plans for Lawson in this game. If the Hokies can build a good mix of packages around Lawson, the true freshman quarterback may be the starting quarterback for Virginia Tech before Michael Brewer returns from injury.
RB Shai McKenzie
After being suspended for the Ohio State game, Shai McKenzie makes his return for the Hokies against Furman after suffering a torn ACL against Western Michigan last season. McKenzie is fourth on the depth chart but with the Hokies not planning on redshirting him, the Pennsylvania native will get some playing time in this game.
One of the biggest questions with McKenzie is whether he is fully healthy. Unfortunately, indications are that McKenzie still hasn’t completely recovered from tearing an ACL for the second time in two years last season, but actually playing in a live game should help him adjust back to game speed.
McKenzie will likely receive no more than 5 or 6 carries in this game, but it will interesting to see if he has the explosiveness and agility that he showed last season. If he does, McKenzie could very well climb the depth chart at running back fairly quickly, but otherwise will be buried at the fourth spot if he isn’t 100%.
Shai McKenzie is back for the Hokies, but it remains to be seen if he really is back to being the running back that showed a lot of promise last season.
DB Adonis Alexander
Adonis Alexander received some playing time against the Buckeyes, but likely will play a lot more against Furman. Alexander has proven to be a tremendous athlete, but what he really needs right now is live-game experience, and this game is a great opportunity for the Hokies to get him that.
Bud Foster and Torrian Gray know that Alexander has scary potential, and that he could be able to take the starting job from Desmond Frye at some point this season. Alexander is still developing his instincts, and this game should be a good opportunity to take some risks in low-pressure situations, and adjust more to the collegiate level.
Alexander will likely not have another golden opportunity like this to get this type of playing time for weeks unless Desmond Frye suffers an injury. After this game, Alexander will have to really earn more playing time instead of getting it somewhat due to his youth and huge potential.
These games against FCS teams are designed for young talents like Adonis Alexander who could really use some significant, live-game experience. Alexander is going to be a very good rover, and a game like this is a perfect chance for him to gain some valuable experience, and work on his football instincts.