Hokies determine linebacker rotation

FT. LAUDERDALE, Fla. -- Virginia Tech defensive coordinator Bud Foster said redshirt freshman linebacker Jack Tyler will start against Stanford in the Discover Orange Bowl, and Bruce Taylor will start at the "backer" position and rotate at middle linebacker as well. The rotation will also include redshirt freshman Tariq Edwards.

Foster said he had lingering concerns about the mobility of Barquell Rivers, a projected starter this season who has yet to see the field because of injury, but that Rivers was "much better" in Thursday's practice. How much Rivers plays, if at all, remains to be seen.

"He had a little bit of massage to him and a little heat therapy and that kind of thing, kind of warmed him up prior to going out, and he moved a little bit better," Foster said. "But he can play great. I know the biggest thing, I know Mike Goforth is going to sit down and talk with him. And Barquell is a prideful kid; I think he'd tell me everything I wanted to hear, you know, that he's ready to play. But I also want to know does he feel like he can perform at a high level and at the level that he's got to play at for us to be successful. And I think Mike is going to sit down with him and talk that over and kind of feel him out a little bit from that standpoint."

Foster said Tyler is "a playmaker" and likes his experience at the Mike position.

"I think he's a little bit more physical guy than Tariq," Foster said. "Not to say that Tariq is not going to be a good football player; I think Tariq is going to be a very, very good football player for us. But with this offense, what they're doing, they'll be running the football. Jack is a very -- he has good vision, very instinctive guy, and it's just kind of a gut feeling for me from that standpoint.

"But you're going to see -- Bruce is a guy, he's a heady football player. We've practiced him the last two weeks at our backer spot. He can play Mike and he will play Mike, and Tariq is going to play. But I just felt like going in with this offense, what their strengths are, we need to match what our strengths could be as far as that position goes."