FT. LAUDERDALE, Fla. -- Before he was injured, Virginia Tech linebacker Barquell Rivers gave his teammate Bruce Taylor some friendly advice.
He told Taylor to learn his position “in case something happens.”
Some things happened.
First, Rivers suffered a torn quad and missed the entire regular season. Then, in the ACC championship game, starter Lyndell Gibson was sidelined with a season-ending shoulder injury, and Taylor was injured, forcing redshirt freshmen Jack Tyler and Tariq Edwards into integral roles. They could continue to be impact players against Stanford in the Discover Orange Bowl. This week’s practices are likely to determine the Hokies’ starting lineup and rotation, which is currently unsettled.
The good news is that Taylor is healthy enough to play two positions, both “backer” and middle linebacker.
“It’s the first time I’ve done anything like that before, but Coach [Bud] Foster was telling me a few years back he had some guys who played both positions,” Taylor said. “He knows what he’s doing. He’s a great coach. I know we’ll be fine.”
Part of that is because Taylor took Rivers’ advice and kept up with the backer position during the year. He said he knows it now “except for a few little things.” Taylor said Rivers will play, but this week will determine how much. Edwards is listed as a starter on the two-deep depth chart against Stanford.
“If I have to come in as a backup, that will be fine as well,” he said. “We’re all prepared.
Tyler agreed, and said that his time in the ACC championship game did wonders for the confidence of those around him.
“It didn’t just help mine, I think it helped some of the players and coaches have more confidence in me,” he said. “I knew my abilities going in, but I think some coaches and players alongside of me, they might not have had as much confidence as they do now. I think it was more for them.”
Regardless of who lines up against Stanford, all of them said they’ll be prepared.
“It’s a little rambunctious right now, but Coach Foster, he knows what we’re doing. We all have our roles. We all know what we’re game planning for. We know game time is not going to be a big cluster. We’re going to know what we’re doing and be prepared to go out and win.”