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RB Ryan Williams's injury worse than most thought

Virginia Tech sophomore running back Ryan Williams put himself on media lockdown as he sat out four straight games with a right hamstring injury, declining any and all interview requests while he rehabbed.

But Saturday, after he made his first appearance for the Hokies since going down in the first half of a Sept. 18 win over East Carolina, Williams ended his self-imposed sabbatical and gave some insight into the severity of his injury.

“It was a grade 1 tear; that's what they called it," said Williams, who set an ACC freshman record with 1,655 rushing yards in 2009. "My initial thoughts was that I’d be back in two weeks, but everybody heals differently from a hamstring. Unfortunately mine took four weeks and I’m still not 100 percent yet."

Williams said he tried to come back for the Hokies 45-21 win over Central Michigan two weeks ago, but tweaked his hamstring during the Monday practice leading into the game. He declared himself "80 or 85 percent" healthy right now.

Williams's goal for Saturday was just to get some game action before Virginia Tech begins the critical final stretch of its schedule against Georgia Tech in 11 days. And even though junior Darren Evans and sophomore David Wilson have performed well in his place this year, Williams seems to be setting his sights on being Virginia Tech's featured runner sooner rather than later.

“I’m still me," he said. "Regardless of what they do ... everybody know what type of player I am, everybody know when I’m 100 percent, what I can bring to the table. So it’s really no diss to them or anything, but they know what I bring to the table and everybody around here has seen it. My role has always been to come out and help the offense win and whatever I can, do that.”

Some more notes and quotes

*Well, we've now reached the point in this year's schedule everybody sort of pointed to at the beginning of the season. As redshirt freshman Antone Exum said, the Hokies path to the ACC Championship game in December is "black and white" now. Beat Georgia Tech, North Carolina, and Miami and they're in. Lose one of those games and they still could get to Charlotte, especially if that defeat comes against Georgia Tech or the loser of Saturday night's North Carolina--Miami tilt.

First, though, Virginia Tech gets a well-deserved bye week after reeling off six-straight wins since that loss to James Madison left the Hokies 0-2. And as my editor Matt Bonesteel pointed out, that upset has become more and more shocking now that the Dukes lost their third game of the season Saturday against Villanova.

*As for today's bludgeoning of Duke, the trendy thing to say is that it was Virginia Tech's most complete performance of the season. The Hokies offense, and specifically quarterback Tyrod Taylor, were efficient and effective racking up 491 yards and scoring 40 or more points for the fourth consecutive week.

The defense, meanwhile, rebounded well from the big play bonanza that was last week's win over Wake Forest. Virginia Tech allowed Duke to gain just 208 yards of offense, and a good chunk of that came in the second half with the Hokies reserves in the game.

I'm sure Coach Frank Beamer was also pleased many of his reserves got some valuable experience on both sides of the ball.

*The special teams also contributed with another nice punt return by cornerback Jayron Hosley. That 61-yard return to set up Darren Evans's touchdown run was the third big return in as many weeks for Hosley. However, the dynamic sophomore had to leave Saturday's game earlier than most of the starters because he was feeling ill. Afterwards when he spoke with reporters, Hosley said he was just light headed and could have played in the second half if needed. Here's what he had to say about how well the punt return, or "pride and joy" unit, is playing.

“We switched people’s assignments a little bit, but those guys, they stepped up and started making their blocks, doing their assignments, and opened the holes up for me," Hosley said. "I just finished it off, complementing them making the right cuts and getting the ball upfield.”

Not to be forgotten is kicker Chris Hazley. He hit three field goals, including a 44-yarder. When asked what he thinks his range is currently, Hazley said he likes "to tell coach that if we snap the ball from the 35-yard line and in, so 52 [yards].

Hazley has now made 13-straight field goals since missing the first attempt of his career against Boise State. He said only Tyrod Taylor has really mentioned it much, but "I don’t believe in jinx.”

*Redshirt freshman Antone Exum got his first start at free safety this year with usual starter Eddie Whitley nursing a foot injury that he originally hurt during pregame warm-ups of Virginia Tech's win over North Carolina State. Exum said Whitley re-aggravated the injury during practice this week.

One of the reasons secondary coach Torian Gray had been reluctant to use Exum at free safety to this point was his struggle calling coverages, which is usually Whitley's responsibility. Senior Davon Morgan said Exum did well in that department Saturday, but "I just kind of assisted him on his calls just to make sure he knew what he was doing. But he got lined up, he played fast and he played well.”

“It’s good to get out there and get free safety reps," said Exum. "That’ll help me mentally now. I’ve been out there, it’s been on my shoulders to make all the calls."

*By passing for 280 yards and rushing for another 47, quarterback Tyrod Taylor is now just 95 yards away from surpassing Bryan Randall's school record for total offense. Judging by the way he's played of late, Taylor could get that mark before the first quarter is over against Georgia Tech.

*Former Hokies defensive end Corey Moore had his No. 56 jersey retired before Saturday's game and was inducted into Virginia Tech's Hall of Fame during a banquet Friday night. As luck would have it, redshirt sophomore Antoine Hopkins got the Hokies first sack of the game. He currently wears No. 56.

*Virginia Tech now gets some time to rest and get ready for a Thursday night showdown against Georgia Tech. The Hokies don't have practice Monday, and until next weekend, Virginia Tech officials aren't making them talk to us hacks. I'll be out in the Hampton Roads area working on a recruiting story, but that doesn't mean Hokies Journal will be dormant. I'll still have some football and basketball updates during the week.

Until then, I'll leave you with a thought from Hosley when asked how badly defensive coordinator Bud Foster wanted to avenge last year's 28-23 loss to the Yellow Jackets.

"I know Bud, he was frustrated during the game, but it means the same to everybody, everybody got the same feeling right now. We want to come back strong. They beat us last year. This year, everybody is on the same page. I don’t want to say we got them circled because every game is important to us, but we keyed in on them this year. It’s gonna be a game.”

By Mark Giannotto  | October 23, 2010; 6:30 PM ET
 
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Next: Highlights from Virginia Tech's 44-7 win over Duke

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