Tuesday, April 19, 2011
Virginia Tech receiver Danny Coale gets a kick out of punting
Sam Dean | The Roanoke Times
Virginia Tech's Danny Coale hauls in a pass during Friday's scrimmage.
Sam Dean | The Roanoke Times
Virginia Tech receiver Danny Coale caught seven passes for 158 yards and two touchdowns during Friday's scrimmage.
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BLACKSBURG -- Virginia Tech football coach Frank Beamer says the race for the Hokies' No. 1 punter's job this fall remains wide open.
Split end Danny Coale, who has caught 105 passes for 1,754 yards the past three years, has hopes of being part of the chase, too.
"I see it as an opportunity to do something to help the team,'' Coale said of the vacated punting spot left by the graduation of second-team All-ACC choice Brian Saunders.
"At end of the day if I'm not the guy for it, then I'm not the guy for it. But at least I want to say I tried.''
Coale has yet to punt in any of the team's spring scrimmages, but he has been booting some balls with the punters in the early portion of practices. Other candidates for the job include redshirt freshman Ethan Keyserling, redshirt junior Scott Demler, and redshirt sophomore Grant Bowden. Like Coale, none have kicked in a college game.
"I was kinda thinking to myself that there wasn't a set punter,'' said Coale, a rising senior from Lexington. "There has been in the past. Once I kinda realized there was an opportunity, I wanted to try it, give it a shot.''
Coale said he initially brought up the idea to defensive coordinator Bud Foster, who recruited him out of Alexandria's Episcopal High, where punting was one of his many chores.
"[Foster] said, 'sure, why not?' '' Coale said. "I expected him to laugh, but he didn't.''
"I have had to shake the rust off a little bit, but it's going all right. I guess it's been four years since I actually punted a ball, especially behind a live line. It's been fun. I'd love to do it. I did it in high school. I had a great time with it, loved it, and I thought this would be a good opportunity to try it.''
Coale said he hoped to punt in last Friday's scrimmage in Lane Stadium. Instead he was on the other end of the operation, replacing injured Jayron Hosley as the punt return man. He also served as the Hokies' holder for placement kicks early last season before Saunders took over the task.
"I would like to get my hands on that again,'' Coale said. "I was comfortable doing it, and if I can get better at it and punting, then I would like to do both of those.''
Coale hasn't let his primary role slide. He caught seven passes for 158 yards and couple of touchdowns in Friday's scrimmage.
"I think they're kinda surprised,'' responded Coale, when asked how the other punting candidates initially reacted when he showed up with the group.
"Everybody asks if I'm serious. And I am, I'm completely serious about it. I don't know if I need to get a punting shoe or what I need to do to let everybody know that I'm serious ... maybe a one bar across the front [of his helmet], I don't know.
"But I'll keep working at it this summer and we'll see where we are in a few months. If there's still an opportunity, I'm going to be around trying to get it.''
Defending the defense
Tech's offense piled up 493 total yards, including 375 passing yards, in Friday's scrimmage.
That said, as Foster noted, the majority of the numbers came at the expense of the second- and third-team defenses. The first-team defense was hurt by the absence of star cornerback Jayron Hosley. Plus, backup free safety, Theron Norman was out with an injury.
"We had just one scholarship player in the second-team secondary,'' Foster said.
When asked about his backups as a whole, Foster joked that "we got them from Walmart.''
Led by starting end J.R. Collins, whose seven tackles included four stops for loss (two sacks), Foster's No. 1 unit stoned the first-team offense on consecutive three-and-outs in a two-minute drill that ended the scrimmage.
"You watch that first group, I've been impressed with them all spring,'' Foster said. "We play hard. We're physical. We've got an attitude. We've got some speed.''
Offensive coordinator Bryan Stinespringcq sported a newly cultivated goatee for the scrimmage.
“Yeah, it has worked with with Bud [Foster] so ... ’’ said Stinespring, bursting into laughter.
Stinespring loved what he saw with his offense more, no matter if the defense had some missing parts.
“You’ve still got to pitch and catch,’’ he said. “They had some guys hurt. But sometimes we’ve gone out here and not completing balls against air. So that’s something we’re all excited about.’’