The headlines surrounding the Hokies have been all about their off-season attrition. A few key players and reserves are out because of either injury or suspension.
With that attrition comes the need for true freshmen to play. But don’t assume the Tide will be able to exploit the Hokies' players because of their youth.
“I think this is one of those things where you assume that the guy’s a freshman he’s not a good player,” Saban said. “I don’t assume that because we’ve had some pretty good freshmen play here.”
Trent Richardson, Julio Jones, Amari Cooper and Mark Ingram were a few players Saban named who had breakout seasons during the first year with the Tide.
“So what’s to say they can't have a guy play well as a freshman? Why would you make that assumption? … I’m just asking. I’m asking. Just because the guy’s a freshman doesn’t mean he’s not a really good player.”
Saban was asked Wednesday to speak about the Hokies’ young secondary. He noted that learning defensive back early on isn’t as tough as other positions on the field.
“It doesn't mean he’s not capable of being a really good player, especially at a position like corner where if you have really good cover ability and you’re instinctive, it’s not like you have to learn what an offensive lineman has to learn to play -- be able to block every front, every blitz, every protection, every run play. It’s different. So we’re not making that assumption.
“If we think we see things in the game -- this is one thing, we’ve never seen those guys play before -- that we can take advantage of, we'll certainly take advantage of it.”
The Hokies also are starting a true freshman at left tackle, Jonathan McLaughlin. McLaughlin will be the first true freshman to open the season starting at tackle during Beamer’s 27-year tenure in Blacksburg, Va.
“The type of kid he is, he’s a tough guy,” Beamer said during a teleconference Monday. “He’ll give you the best effort he’s got. Scheme-wise, you’re just trying to help him a little bit. But nah, I don’t think we've ever had a freshman start at left tackle for us. That’s kind of where we are. We’ve gotten a little bit thin along the offensive line and we’ve been in the process of building that back, and that’s what we’re going to do.”
The Tide's Ed Stinson, who led all Alabama defensive linemen with 8.5 tackles for loss last season, has a specific way of attacking freshman offensive lineman.
“I use the power move against a freshman," Stinson said. “I pretty much just use the one arm bar and just go by 'em.”