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Carmichael to Stay at Boundary Cornerback

Rashad Carmichael, who started in place of the injured Stephan Virgil against Marshall on Saturday, said he liked playing boundary cornerback because of the one-on-one battles. Carmichael will have another opportunity to enjoy the position again on Saturday.

Even if Virgil’s injured knee is healthy, Carmichael will play at boundary cornerback when the No. 13 Hokies (1-1) host No. 19 Nebraska (2-0). If Virgil is able to play, he will play in Carmichael’s spot at field cornerback.

Virgil, who injured his left knee while making a tackle in a 34-24 loss to Alabama on Sept. 5, received an injection in the knee and should be ready to return to practice on Wednesday. He was limited in practiced on Monday, although he was not wearing a blue, non-contact jersey like he had last week.

Torrian Gray, the Hokies’ defensive backs coach, said Virgil would move to field cornerback for the Nebraska game “just because I don’t know how full speed he would be right now to start off with.”

Nebraska has moved the ball well through the air against two opponents from the Sun Belt Conference. In a 49-3 win over Florida Atlantic on Sept. 5, quarterback Zac Lee completed 15 of 22 passes for 213 yards, with two touchdowns and one interception. In a 38-9 win over Arkansas State on Saturday, Lee threw for 340 yards and four touchdowns, completing 27 of 35 passes. Lee has spread the ball to a wealth of wide receives in both games.

The boundary cornerback, considered by Carmichael to be the defenses’ backbone, is big responsibility. It often lines up in man-on-man coverage against an opposing team’s best wide receiver.

Carmichael’s strength is in his man-on-man coverage, something he has proven to the coaches in preseason practices and in his play against Alabama wide receivers Julio Jones and Marquis Maze.

But on Monday, Carmichael said he was still learning how to play boundary cornerback in practice. He has only started there twice, in Saturday in a 52-10 win over Marshall and in place of the injured Victor (Macho) Harris in last year’s 27-22 at East Carolina to open the season.

Gray said Carmichael has not always shown the right instincts at the position. Gray said he challenged Carmicahel that a more instinctual presence needs to come along if “he’s going to take his game to another level.”

Carmichael played well against the Thundering Herd. He and the secondary limited Marshall’s offense to only 126 passing yards.

Carmichael said he particularly liked the challenges of the position, how one play he might have to take on a block from an offensive tackle and on the very next play might have to defend a pass his direction. He told his teammates he felt like Leonidas, the Spartan king, because of his warrior mentality during the game.

“It is easier to get exposed in the boundary, but the kind of corner I am, I love it,” Carmichael said. “It’s like a dogfight or a boxing match or something. Every play you know it's going to be nine out of 10 times your ability and technique versus the receiver’s ability and technique.”

He added: “It’s fun. I love playing over there.”

By Mark Viera  |  September 15, 2009; 8:30 AM ET
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