Share This Post
Entering today, all I wanted Virginia Tech to do was win. Three hours later, the Hokies exited Lane Stadium with a 37-0 shutout. Their first shutout since beating UVA last season; 38-0. Overall, the Hokies were perfectly imperfect today. There were still some growing pains. The Virginia Tech secondary left a few Bowling Green wide receivers wide open. Thankfully, those passes never amounted to anything.
The Virginia Tech offensive line struggled to open holes early and had a few missed assignments later on the in the game that resulted in losses or sacks. But, the Hokies did what they needed to do to win and in the process, they hopefully got this offense back on track.
I am a little concerned with Logan Thomas though. His stats on the day are less than impressive. He finished 11 of 26 passing for 144 yards, two touchdowns, and one interception. He also added 15 rushes for 65 yards and a score. Anytime you score four touchdowns, it’s a good day. But his inconsistency in the passing game kept it from being a great day. Early on, Thomas was still throwing the ball high and missing open receivers. He then forced a pass to Marcus Davis in the 3rd quarter that resulted in an interception.
But, Logan responded well and began to pickup yards with his legs including an impressive 26 yard run in which he went scampering through the Falcon secondary. He also leveled the boom on a Falcon linebacker in the 2nd quarter. Instant .gif worthy entertainment. But, Thomas is going to need to improve for the Hokies to win any of the remaining games level on the schedule. The cupcakes are gone. Our next three opponents are Cincinnati, North Carolina, and Duke. Not Alabama quality teams but all three could be losses is our offense doesn’t continue to take a step forward.
All The Running Backs
Shane Beamer has mentioned recently that he wasn’t sure of how to do the running back rotation this year. I’m sure that problem has been compounded by our lack of blocking up front. I thought Beamer did a nice job rotating his backs in and out today. Tony Gregory received the most touches today and responded well with 11 carries for a team high 68 yards. He and Thomas were the teams two leading rushers. Michael Holmes had a great series in the 3rd quarter where he broke off a 40 yard rush down to the Bowling Green five yard line. He would later punch it in for a two yard score.
Martin Scales also saw some reps and responded, carrying the ball three times for 15 yards and scoring a touchdown.
Virginia Tech as a team ran the ball 43 times for 246 yards and three touchdowns. Compare that to recent weeks and those are some great numbers. Last week against Pitt, the Hokies ran 26 times for 59 yards. Against Austin Peay, the Hokies ran 38 times for 187 yards. Then in the Georgia Tech game, the Hokies ran it 35 times for 96 yards.
As you can tell, today was a season high in both the amount of carries and the amount of yards. Also, the Hokies passed the eye-test today as well. That is something that doesn’t always show up in post-game statistics.
Going into Cincinnati, I would give either Tony Gregory, who looked lightening quick today, or JC Coleman the start. Then rotate backs in based upon performance. If Gregory performs well, keep him in there. If not then sub in JC. We have good running backs, it’s just finding the one that’s going to perform the best on that particular Saturday. All four guys played well today.
Defense Bends, Never Breaks
Je’Ron Stokes dropping a wide open pass, Matt Schilz leading an open receiver out of the back of the endzone, and Stephen Stein missing a 43 yard field goal – there were a lot of opportunities out there for Bowling Green to capitalize on in the first quarter. They failed to do so. Bowling Green left roughly 17 points on the field in the first half, which would have completely altered the course of this game. Instead of a comfortable blowout, the Hokies would have had to fight for a victory.
But, when the defense needed to make a big play, they made it. Today was as close to vintage Virginia Tech defense as I’ve seen since Michigan last season. Bowling Green, which entered the game 112th in scoring offense and 95th in total offense, managed only 266 total yards today. Close to 60 of which came in the final two drives against the Hokies backups.
Before I say this defense is back, there are a few things that concern me.
1. James Gayle failed to get a lot of pressure. Then again, Schilz is a good quarterback and knows how to step up in the pocket. I did like his burst today but he was neutralized by Bowling Green’s right tackle for most of the afternoon.
2. The secondary continues to blow coverages. Bowling Green had two opportunities for 40-plus yard touchdowns and failed to convert either.
3. The defensive tackles are extremely inconsistent. I was hoping that with both Hopkins brothers back, this group would be the strength of our defense. To this date, our defensive tackles have been average. They need to get a better push, which will free up Jack Tyler and Bruce Taylor to do what they do best.
I will admit some of that is being very nitpicky. Gayle has three sacks this season but he hasn’t been that force we were all hoping for. Of course, if he’s saving his multiple sack game for Clemson or FSU, I’ll forgive him.
Offensive Line Improves… Somewhat
The offensive line is a work in progress and it will be for the foreseeable future. If you think it’s magically going to improve overnight, you don’t understand the intricacies of college football. But, I did like the push the offensive line got after our first three drives. Some holes began to open up and for the most part, Thomas had time to throw.
The line did give up a few sacks, one of which is on Benedict for not moving his feet and losing leverage on his defender. I don’t remember when the other one came so I’ll refrain on commenting on it.
I like what I saw today, especially after those first three drives. But that leads me into my next topic.
A Slooooow Start… Again!
This is becoming the Hokies most frustrating problems and surprisingly, it’s not playcalling based. The Hokies first drive was Austin Peay all over again.
1. Thomas miscommunicates with Dyrell and throws it way behind him.
2. QB-read resulting in Thomas keeping it for one yard
3. Thomas gets pressured dumps it off. Offsides on BG.
4. Thomas throws it over the head of Dyrell.
That’s not how you start the game. But, the Hokies got better after their first three drives (all of which ended in punts). Hopefully we can start fast against Cincinnati next week, if not, they have the talent to beat us similarly to Pittsburgh.
1st Down Passing
After the game, I wanted to go back and look at how many times we passed or ran on 1st down. During the game, it seemed like we were always throwing the ball on 1st down, which is the exact opposite from a few years ago. On first downs today, we threw the ball 13 times and ran 21 times. So, I was actually wrong on that. In fact, that’s good balance. Although Thomas was awful on 1st down passing, finishing just 3-9 with 50 yards and 1 TD. (Editor’s note: On 14 total drives today, VT started 8 of those drives with 1st down passing plays, compared to just six rushing)
Take away the homerun ball to Roberts for the touchdown and Logan was 2-8 for eight yards on 1st down. I like those numbers but the downside is we were always behind the chains. It’s tough to convert 1st downs when you only have two downs to pick up 10 yards.
If you go a little deeper into those numbers, Virginia Tech had five touchdown drives today. Four of which were on drives starting with runs. Only one came on a drive starting with a pass. So, on four of the six drives that Virginia Tech started the drive with a run we eventually scored a touchdown. We only scored a touchdown on one of our eight drives that we began with a passing play. There's something to starting drives ahead of the chains and moving the ball forward. Of course, a few of those 1st down passes resulted in drops by the receivers. So, you can only blame play calling so much until you get back to executing the plays that are called.
Younger Players Gain Experience
I have to give some props to Matt Roth for forcing a fumble in Bowling Green’s final possession. He had a nice pass rush to the outside, used a sweet swim move to shed his blocker, and hit Matt Johnson’s arm as he was cocking to throw.
Also, I thought Ronny Vandyke played well when he was in the game. There’s no question he’s going to be a big time player but he needs to be brought along slowly. He’s still a little all over the place at WHIP but he’s the future at the position. I also think he could play some backer with his size if there’s ever a need. He’s just a naturally gifted athlete.
Enjoy this post? Subscribe to our RSS Feed and never miss another! Or sign up to get exclusive VirginiaTechFan.com Sports Analysis delivered straight to your inbox!