Virginia Tech's beat-up receiving corps could shine vs. FSU
These are not pain-free days for Virginia Tech wide receiver Jarrett Boykin. He's been playing through a shoulder sprain the past three weeks, an injury that has slowed down his production and forced him to take a cortisone shot before games in order to play.
"That’s the only time when I don’t feel it,” Boykin said of his shoulder game days, "But it's something that's gonna be there til the end of the season."
Boykin is simply one part of a worn-down receiving corps. Junior Dyrell Roberts is already out after undergoing thigh surgery after the win over Georgia Tech. His replacement, Marcus Davis, suffered a concussion against Miami two weeks ago though he did play against Virginia.
The whole situation has forced Virginia Tech offensive coordinator Bryan Stinespring to get creative. In addition to relying on unheralded players like redshirt sophomore Austin Fuller and Xavier Boyce -- who have both performed ably when called upon -- Stinespring is using running back David Wilson split out as a wide receiver more often than ever.
"We've had some injuries on the perimeter ... so we try to go in as quickly as we can in the beginning of the week and say ‘This is what you’re going to do this week in addition to,'" Stinespring said of Wilson. "The jet sweeps have been very productive, getting out of the backfield catching the ball, getting him out in space and catching routes. ... He’s a guy, when he gets the ball in his hands, he’s a potential highlight. We had to create some ways to get him in the ball game and get him the ball in space.”
But if Boykin and Co. can get through the nicks and bumps, they could be due for a big game Saturday night against Florida State. This Seminoles' secondary does not have a Deion Sanders, or even a Bryant McFadden or a Myron Rolle. They've been forced to play a lot more zone this year, especially as teams drive down the field.
Opponents are completing close to 58 percent of their passes against Florida State, and they're giving up nearly 218 yards per game through the air. And the zone coverage plays perfectly to the strengths of Virginia Tech's receiving corps, which does not have a true burner besides maybe Davis. Although it's worth mentioning that junior Danny Coale is 11th in the nation, averaging more than 19 yards per catch.
But it's Boykin, in particular, who has excelled finding the open spots in zone coverage this year and he could be looking to show he was snubbed when not included in Monday's all-ACC selections.
On Saturday he'll get to play in front of a hometown crowd in Charlotte. Boykin had six catches for 72 yards against Virginia last week after being shut out for the first time this season in the Miami game, and is now just 12 receptions away from breaking Ernest Wilford's school record.
“When it comes, it comes," Boykin said of the record. "But I’m gonna come back next year, so I’ll break it this year or break it next year. I know I’ve been in a drought the past two weeks, but it felt good to get back into the swing of things.”
| November 30, 2010; 1:53 AM ET
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Posted by: jcard14 | November 30, 2010 4:31 PM | Report abuse