Hokies running game moves on without Lewis

October, 17, 2008
10/17/08
3:30
PM ET

Posted by ESPN.com's Heather Dinich

Following the news earlier this month that starting running back Kenny Lewis Jr. would be out the rest of the season with a ruptured Achilles, Virginia Tech running backs coach Billy Hite told his younger players that Lewis would hereby be referred to as "coach" Lewis.

It's the next best thing to having him on the field.

"I've asked him to help me out," Hite said. "I want you out there during practice, I want you on the sideline during games. Just talk to those guys. They really look up to him. I think that's going to be a big help for us, I really do."

While the loss of Lewis won't change the Hokies' game plan, it will require more of the backups. Darren Evans, who was the team's leading rusher off the bench, has now adapted a starter's mentality. And Josh Oglesby, who has carried the ball just 15 times this season, will now be No. 2.

"We just went from a guy that had been in quite a few battles in Lewis, and really knew pass protection and so forth to a guy that hasn't had the reps," coach Frank Beamer said of Oglesby. "That's the big change. The maturity and experience Kenny had, and now you're going to Josh, who is getting experience as he goes. I think that's the difference."

Hite said Oglesby has been impressive at practices, but is a back who needs more reps to get into the flow of a game. This weekend's trip to Boston College should provide that opportunity. Evans, who leads the team with 415 yards and eight touchdowns, said he hopes to relieve some of the pressure off Oglesby.

"Just to ease that off of him, I know if I do good, then I might be out there a little bit more until he gets into the rhythm of the game," Evans said. "But it won't take long, because he's a good back, too. We can feed off each other."

Dustin Pickle is still the team's two-minute back, but Hite said he feels comfortable using Pickle in any game situation.

"He does everything," Hite said. "He's been a role player for us since he's been here. He's a walk-on who earned a scholarship. Everything he does is full speed. ... He's really a pleasure to have in your meeting room."

Hite said he and Beamer discussed the possibility of using highly touted freshman Ryan Williams, but decided against it because the Hokies have already played six games.

"You don't want to take the shirt off that late," Hite said. Still, Hite said he's "tickled to death" with the progress Williams has made.

"Honestly, he's that good of a player he could've played for us this year," Hite said. "What it came down to was would he get enough carries. I told him I could be a selfish coach and play you and not worry about how many carries you get, but I really think what's best for you and this football team is that you redshirt. He bought into that and felt the same way. But with the ball in his arm, he's as good as anybody I have, I can tell you that right now."

For now, though, he's going with what he's got.

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