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September 24, 2012
Final Grades: Bowling Green
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A week after a drubbing at the hands of Pittsburgh, Virginia Tech is back moving in the right direction. But despite a 37-0 win over Bowling Green, it's still a work in progress. Having seen replays and thought it over, here's publisher Jason Stamm's exam of the Hokies' win:
Junior quarterback Logan Thomas still seems off with his throws. He missed a few open targets by substantial amounts. He still zipped a few passes in and put the right touch on a loft pass to J.C. Coleman that went for a touchdown, as well as a tight pass that Dyrell Roberts went up and got. But when his arm wasn't getting it done, Thomas had the instinct to run and did a good job of it, with 65 yards on the ground. His mere 144 yards passing won't get it done against better competition, but Thomas also had his fingernail ripped off on his second quarter run to the goal-line, which probably factored in some.
Using the quartet of runners, redshirt freshman Michael Holmes, freshman J.C. Coleman, junior Tony Gregory and senior Martin Scales, Virginia Tech finally showed life on the ground with 246 total yards. Even Thomas scrambled for 65 yards. The running backs all got in the end zone, save for Gregory, but he was the leading individual rusher with 68 yards. We knew that the Hokies would have a running back by committee, but it's still a bit concerning that not one has emerged as the best running back in the group. And it's not looking like that will happen at this point. The group made strides, but the failure of one definitive back at the top could be a problem down the road.
Thomas did miss his receivers on a few routes, but he didn't get helped by more drops. Virginia Tech has to do a better job of helping out its quarterback and getting open, even if that means coming back to the ball. The good day receiving by junior Dyrell Roberts was nice to see, but senior Marcus Davis should have a bigger impact than two catches for 29 yards. He's too important of an athlete and playmaker not to have more touches.
A week after getting pushed around by Pittsburgh, this group made some big strides. They opened up a number of holes for the running backs, though they did allow a pair of sacks on Thomas. It was curious to see center Andrew Miller substituted out by himself on a few plays for Caleb Farris, but hopefully this will make Farris a better lineman to have more experience. Miller though is a key piece of the line, so if he can't go it's a huge concern. Right now, he looks to be fine.
Junior defensive end Tyrel Wilson might have had the most impressive game of the Hokies' players up front. He was constantly swarming to the ball when on the field. Credited with one sack, he just missed another when Bowling Green quarterback Matt Schilz just made it back to the line of scrimmage. Junior James Gayle also nearly came up with an interception, thought he might have been surprised to have the ball in front of him. Like the O-line, it was good to see the defensive front getting push a week after getting pushed around.
Junior Jack Tyler continues to impress, again the leading tackler for the Hokies with seven sacks. he also broke up a pass. But it was an even better sign to see junior Tariq Edwards back on the field for the first time this season after recovering from injury. If Edwards can continue to improve, he'll add another dimension to the position. Senior Bruce Taylor also had a solid game with six tackles.
Still a few concerns in this area as junior Kyle Fuller still doesn't quite look 100 percent. Junior Antone Exum had another interception for the second straight week, but there's still some breaks in coverage that allowed Bowling Green some big plays to get on the Hokies' side of the field. Redshirt freshman Michael Cole looked much improved and the other younger backups in the secondary also got some playing time in the fourth quarter, which never hurts.
Sophomore Kyshoen Jarrett didn't do anything spectacular, but still looked good on his two punt returns. The real special teams star is Gregory, who had a punt block against Austin Peay and had an excellent block on a Jarrett return. The real puzzler is why true freshman Brooks Abbott had the redshirt taken off to perform kickoffs. Michael Branthover seemed to be getting the job done. Freshman punter A.J. Hughes had a couple of punts wobble and go off the side of his foot, but still had a 39.2 average on six punts.
The passing game didn't get going, but Virginia Tech made the right calls to get the running backs some room. It still would be nice to get the ball in Davis' hands more and defensively, adjustments need to be made as the Falcons marched multiple times past the 50 yard-line. But there was a lot of progress made among the staff and good adjustments made from the Pittsburgh loss.
Back at home, the Hokies honored the military on appreciation day. There were a few pauses in the game to recognize a few servicemen and a flyover by the U.S. Air Force. The crowd really came to life during Virginia Tech's second quarter run, but there were plenty of empty seats in the second half. Of course, the game was well in hand after that second quarter outburst of offense.