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Exum a Scout-Team Hero

Opposing coaches have said the most difficult thing about preparing for Georgia Tech’s option offense is not just teaching players their assignments, but replicating the proficiency with which the Yellow Jacket run it.

In order to try to match Georgia Tech’s speed, Virginia Tech has used freshman free safety Antone Exum as the scout-team quarterback instead of Jeff Beyer. Also, the scout-team center is not snapping the ball, meaning Exum already has it and can get moving fast after the snap count.

“There’s no comparison to anybody else that we play on our schedule that’s anything like this,” defensive coordinator Bud Foster said of Georgia Tech’s offense.

Speaking about Exum, Foster said, “He’s been giving us a good look.”

After a meeting on Monday morning, some members of the coaching staff approached Exum and told him about his new responsibilities for the week. Exum stayed an extra 10 minutes to watch film of Georgia Tech.

Exum played quarterback in high school. At 5 feet 11 and 209 pounds, he has the kind of size to replicate Georgia Tech quarterback Josh Nesbitt, who is 6-1 and 217 pounds.

“I was excited because I haven’t played quarterback since my last snap in high school,” Exum said.

The Hokies have devoted more practice time to preparing for the Yellow Jackets. Instead of two team periods on Tuesday, the Hokies practiced for five team periods, according to Foster. The extra time meant more snaps against Georgia Tech’s option look.

Some members of Virginia Tech’s staff visited the University of Georgia in March to break down the Georgia Tech offense. Yet for all extra practice and study sessions, players still said it would probably be difficult to get adjusted the Georgia Tech’s speed with the option. When teams do adjust, it makes a difference. The Yellow Jackets are averaging 8.2 yards per rush in the first quarter, compared with 3.7 in the fourth.

Running back Jonathan Dwyer, who has rushed for 511 yards, has seen his productivity dip as defenses clot the middle of the line where he often runs. Nesbitt, though, has developed a comfort level in the offense and is second on the team in rushing (503 yards).

Duplicating a quarterback who can run as hard and fast as Nesbitt will be difficult, but Exum will try this week.

“He’s got good ability,” Coach Frank Beamer said of Exum. “When we recruited him, we talked about him playing some quarterback.”

By Mark Viera  |  October 14, 2009; 11:28 AM ET
 
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