By Nick Cafferky, special sections sports editor
Following an MRI and X-ray Monday, it was revealed that linebacker Bruce Taylor will miss the rest of the season because of a Listfranc sprain that occurred in the third quarter against Boston College.
Taylor is the third player from the Hokies front seven to be lost for the season in the past month, and his injury now thrusts Barquell Rivers into the starting spot.
Rivers, as you may remember, was the starting mike linbacker in 2009 before a torn quadriceps cost him the 2010 season, where Taylor eventually became the leader of the defense.
Here’s what Taylor, Rivers and defensive coordinator Bud Foster had to say after Monday’s practice.
On him looking fine after the game: “I was being optemistic thinking I was going to be fine. So it didn’t really hit me until the next morning when I got the results and it wasn’t fine”
On Barquell and the other linebackers: “I think the biggest think for him is trusting that knee. He hasn’t played that much until last game. He’ll be all right, just the biggest thing for him is getting back into game shape, which is going to take him a little time. … If any position could afford to have injuries on defense it was linebacker because the guys behind me could be starters at other schools.”
On how his injury affects potentially leaving early to enter the NFL Draft: “I was leaning toward coming back in the first place. This just kind of solidifies that for me. I don’t feel like I have enough game time under my belt for me to make that jump. Anybody can put their neck out there, how they fair, though, is different. The most important thing for me is getting my degree, so I’m just working on that. I graduate in the spring, so next year I’ll come back and I can be more focused on football and get my body ready for that next level.”
On Taylor being injured for the year: “It’s tough when you lose a player, but he was also a best friend, so it’s tough when you see someone go down with a season-ending injury because I’ve been through it and I know what it’s like going through that situation.”
On how he thinks Taylor will handle being gone for a year: “I think he can handle it because he has people around him, around the team, around the facilities, that’ll pick him up and encourage him through the process.”
On his preparation for this week: “I’ve taken all of my reps at full speed at full speed trying to get it like game plays so I can get in better game shape.”
On the communication on the field now that there are new people playing together: “We had to keep communication all through camp and the spring. That’s one thing Coach harped on the most is communication. A silent defense is a dead defense, so from day one, everyone had to work on communication and helping each other out on the field. … It’s about the same regardless 9of who’s playing) because we are all calling out checks and thing, so when the next guy comes in, he just picks up from where the first guy was.”
On if he ever thought he’d be back in the starting lineup: “I never thought I’d be back starting a game. I saw (Taylor) progress each game and keep getting better, and I was helping him on the little things. I didn’t predict he’d get hurt during the season.”
On whether this game will be emotionally for him: “Probably very emotional because I have a bunch of people that had faith in me that are happy for me. I just want to do it for Virginia Tech.”
On his confidence in the guys replacing Taylor: “We’ve won a championship with (Rivers and Jack Tyler) and they’ve played in big games for us, so I have a lot of confidense in them and I told that to the defense this morning.”
On what he saw from Rivers and getting both he and Tyler ready: “(Rivers) played pretty well the other day for us. We threw him in there and the game was still on the line and he played well. And I was trying to get (Tyler) some snaps as well, but we forced a fumble and the offense held on to the ball after that. But those guys have practiced — I’ve been practicing Jack, he’s been alternating with Barquell just because of something like this. It’s unfortunate for Bruce, and unfortunate for us, because he was having an all-star kind of season, like he did last year — I think he was playing even a notch better. But that’s the nature of the game.”
On whether the change in personnel has forced any change in game plan: “There might be; I don’t know. I tried to do some things with (Nick) Dew the other day, but he didn’t execute, so we had to kind of adjust a little bit. But we’ll see. I want to keep doing our stuff, but at the same time, we have to make sure we can do what we do and play it well.”
Follow Nick on Twitter at @NickCaffCT
Photo courtesy Trevor White, SPPS