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In Return, Virgil Impresses Despite Injury

Torrian Gray, Virginia Tech’s defensive backs coach, said that cornerback Stephan Virgil was not totally healthy against Miami and might not be for the rest of the season as he battles a knee injury. That was why Gray was so impressed with how Virgil performed.

In Virgil’s first game back since injuring his left knee Sept. 5 against Alabama, he played most of the Hokies’ 31-7 win over the Hurricanes and recorded six tackles, one for loss. He also helped Virginia Tech limit Miami’s potent passing offense to just 150 yards in a driving rain in Lane Stadium.

“I can’t believe how well he played Saturday,” Gray said of Virgil. “Just missing two weeks and not practicing a full week, to go out and do what he did was remarkable.”

On Saturday, Virgil played at field cornerback. Rashad Carmichael played at boundary cornerback. Gray said that Virgil would likely stay at the field cornerback position in the foreseeable future.

Virgil excelled last year at field cornerback, a position responsible for roaming large expanses of the field in zone coverage. Carmichael has played the last three games at boundary cornerback, which matches up against receivers in the boundary in one-on-one coverage.

“Rock is a better man-cover guy the way we are right now with the health situation,” Gray said, referring to Carmichael by his nickname, Rock. “And Rock’s strength is man coverage, whereas Virgil was so good at field corner. Now you don’t have to stress him as much and it kind of fits with their strengths, too.”

Virgil missed the previous two games before Saturday. During practices open to reporters iover those two weeks, he participated in drills at full speed. But Gray said he was still dealing with lingering pain in his knee that has limited him.

Virgil has declined all interviews for a second week.

“It’s something that we’re not going to let him practice every day,” Gray said. “We’re going to give him certain days he can practice. In the game, he was unbelievable. For the time he had off and the performance he played, the way he moved around and played was unbelievable. We’ll try to take care of him and leave some stuff off of him.”

Gray added, “It’s something he’s going to be able to play through, but it’s something we’ve got to be smart about and take care of him.”

No. 6 Virginia Tech (3-1, 1-0 ACC) plays at Duke (2-2) on Saturday.

By Mark Viera  |  September 29, 2009; 12:00 PM ET
 
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