BLACKSBURG - Virginia Tech defensive end TyJuan Garbutt came to the podium after the team’s 45-10 loss to Duke with his left shoulder wrapped in huge ice pack.
Garbutt was back in the lineup last weekend for the first time since the season-opener when he suffered a collarbone injury on the second series. The defensive end aggravated the injury chasing down Duke quarterback Quentin Harris at the end of the third quarter.
With Tech trailing 31-10, Garbutt didn’t play in the fourth quarter, but his collarbone injury didn’t sting as much as the lopsided loss.
“They out-executed us,” Garbutt said after the game. “Defensively, we had a couple drives where we stopped them early, we didn’t execute later on. It just kept rolling and rolling and they outperformed us and worked harder than us.”
It was hard to question Garbutt’s effort though.
The injured defensive end was tied for second on the team with seven tackles (three solo) with 1.5 for a loss. He got tested early when he dropped back into coverage on Duke’s third play from scrimmage and wrapped up Deon Jackson on a short little swing pass for a loss of 1-yard.
Garbutt didn’t give an inch on the play to get the Hokies off the field.
“Everyday I’ve been working to get better and get back to where I once was,” Garbutt said. “My brothers have been supporting me, the [defensive line], the defense and the offense have been supporting me. It feels good to get back out there with my boys.”
While Garbutt was effective against the run — four of his seven stops came near the line of scrimmage against Duke’s rushing attack — the Hokies are hoping he can be a more dominant pass rushing force as he gets closer to 100 percent.
Tech had five quarterback hurries against the Blue Devils, but no sacks. Defensive coordinator Bud Foster has relied on various blitz packages to generate pressure through the first four weeks of the season. The Hokies’ defensive ends combined for three sacks and five tackles for loss without Garbutt on the field.
Garbutt had 31 tackles (18 solo) with 6.5 for a loss, one sack and two quarterback hurries in 13 games (five starts).
“I’m sure he felt like he probably played his first game of the year, and I’m hoping he will be a guy that will really get better,” Foster said. “I’m sure that thing’s a little sore here and there. There’s movement in there with that joint that he can twinge that a little bit. I’m excited about him taking that next step...And we need to get him back, though, to that form that he was practicing with and playing with early in camp and everything.”