POSTGAME: Hokies defeat Georgia Tech 17-10 to move to 4-1 overall and 1-0 in the Coastal Division.
And yes, I still think it’s fun showing up not knowing what you’re going to see. And one thing I saw tonight that I don’t think I’ve ever seen is the Hokies win a game while getting absolutely nothing from their tailbacks. Kudos to the coaching staff and players for finding a formula that worked with Edmunds (hip) clearly not at 100 percent.
Another thing I saw tonight was that supporting cast on offense taking a significant step forward. Andy’s got the excellent performance of Thomas and the defense covered well in his lead story, so I focused on how the receivers did their part in making the whole operation look better. I’ll post a link when it’s up.
Stat of the night: Thomas, with 279 total yards, outgained the entire Virginia Tech offense (276). Those two kneel-downs at the end were credited to the team for minus-4 yards, which ultimately made that happen.
A few quotes that didn’t make the column.
Byrn, on his injury: “Hurt. A lot. But I think it’s going to be all right. I think it’s just a sprained MCL.”
Byrn, on the offense’s hot start: “Not that we took the first games lightly, but this game we were on fire. We were really amped up.”
Byrn, on what’s next for this offense: “The thing we’ve got to do next, we dominated those first two series, and then as soon as they stopped us we kind of caught our breath and got brought back to earth a little bit. I think we’ve got to take the punches a little bit and know that if one series goes awry, we’ve got to make plays for the next one.”
Things are getting tense now for the Hokies, who’ve seen their lead trimmed to 14-10 and just punted the ball away to the Jackets.
Georgia Tech’s touchdown drive required 14 plays, and the Hokies had multiple opportunities to curtail it. Lee completed a 40-yard pass to Robert Godhigh off his back foot that spent a lot of time in the air, but Bonner couldn’t recover and prevent the reception.
Later, after Bonner made a nice tackle on second-and-goal for a loss of 4, he committed a pass interference penalty in the end zone to give the Jackets a fresh set of downs. They needed just one play after that to get into the end zone.
Facyson also had a great shot to recover a fumble on a botched exchange, but he couldn’t corral it on the dive.
The Hokies have completely abandoned the tailback tonight. Much of that probably has to do with Edmunds’ hip injury; the few times he’s gotten the ball via handoff or pass he hasn’t seemed to have his usual burst.
Buckle up, gang. Another tight VT-GT finish is upon us.
The Hokies go to the locker room with a 14-3 lead and a lot of confidence, after Thomas and his receiving corps put together their best extended stretch of the season.
Thomas connected on his first nine passing attempts. After he threw his first incompletion, he rumbled 26 yards on the next play.
He’s accounted for both Hokies touchdowns, adding a 5-yard touchdown run in the second quarter. He got good blocking on the play, made a little shimmy to his left and crossed the goal line.
Thomas is 11-for-14 (including an incomplete Hail Mary at the end of the half) for 149 yards and a touchdown. He’s run for 36 yards and a score on seven carries.
Receivers: Willie Byrn four catches for 44 yards. Demitri Knowles three catches for 54 yards. Coles, Stanford, Cline and Rogers have one grab apiece.
Georgia Tech has more passing yards (98) than rushing yards (62), which is definitely different for those guys. The big threat in the passing game has been DeAndre Smelter, who has caught three passes for 76 yards and set up the Jackets’ field goal with a long grab working against Detrick Bonner.
Still, GT QB Vlad Lee is only 5-for-14 and has thrown a pick. Speaking of which…
Hokies freshman cornerback Brandon Facyson is a really good football player. His diving interception gives him four this season and ties him for the national lead. He also batted down a fourth-down pass late in the quarter. Aspiring heart surgeon, pass interceptor, pass batter-downer. Good mix there.
So far, so good for the Hokies, but the night is young. Hokies get the ball to start the second half.
The Hokies lead 7-0 and are driving near midfield as the quarter ends.
The Hokies enjoyed their best start of the season – and best start in recent memory, spanning several seasons – tonight.
A Georgia Tech fumbled exchange, recovered by Kyle Fuller, set the Hokies up at the Jackets 27. They needed just two plays to get into the end zone. Logan Thomas found D.J. Coles on a well-designed crossing route over the middle, and he had plenty of room to run.
A great block thrown downfield (sorry, didn’t see who threw it; had to be one of the receivers) gave Coles the last bit of space he needed to get to the end zone.
The Jackets have turned it over twice (the second was an interception by freshman future heart surgeon Brandon Facyson, giving him four on the year) and have committed four procedure penalties already, as the Hokies have creeped multiple defenders up and raised the tension on the O-line.
The good Logan is here so far. He’s 6-for-6 for 82 yards and threw a beautiful third down strike on this drive to Demitri Knowles, who made a great catch despite tight coverage.
VT—Coles 21 pass from Thomas (Journell kick), 12:23. Drive: Two plays, 27 yards, :31. Key play: Ky. Fuller fumble recovery at GT 27. Virginia Tech 7, Georgia Tech 0.
VT—Thomas 5 run (Journell kick), 11:25. Drive: 10 plays, 91 yards, 6:02. Key play: Knowles 28 pass from Thomas to VT 43. Virginia Tech 14, Georgia Tech 0.
GT—FG Butker 49, 7:21. Drive: Nine plays, 43 yards, 4:04. Key play: Smelter 41 pass from Lee to VT 22. Virginia Tech 14, Georgia Tech 3.
GT—Sims 2 run (Butker kick), 3:16. Drive: 14 plays, 82 yards, 8:12. Key play: Godhigh 40 pass from Lee to VT 40. Virginia Tech 14, Georgia Tech 10.
VT—FG Journell 39, 10:25. Drive: Eight plays, 26 yards, 3:22. Key play: Cline 15 pass from Thomas to GT 33. Virginia Tech 17, Georgia Tech 10.
PREGAME: Greetings from Bobby Dodd Stadium, where the Hokies and Jackets will meet in about an hour and a half.
Georgia Tech is favored by 7, with the over-under set at 42.
I’ll have thoughts on each of the first three quarters, then will shift into full deadline-beating mode for tomorrow’s column. Good ‘net willing, I’ll also do my best to keep the scoring summary (with key plays) current.
Feel free to drop by and share your thoughts, including how much fun you are or are not having. Just to clarify, what’s fun to me is the unpredictability — showing up to a stadium having no idea what we are going to see. Not sure where the “bad plays are fun” interpretation came from; don’t think I ever said or wrote that anywhere. Maybe I did, though. Either way, really looking forward to seeing what transpires tonight.
And that, gang, is how you gross out a street urchin at 6 a.m. on Game Day.
Southwest Virginia is representin’ on Peachtree Street. To the left you’ll see a picture of our hotel’s free breakfast, because there’s nothing anybody in the world wants to see more than pictures of other people’s food. But I thought it was impressive for a free breakfast. The Hyatt Place doesn’t mail it in.
Neither did Mr. Bitter. Hope you got a chance to read Andy’s McChat yesterday. The man is dedicated to that thing, no doubt. We spent 3 hours at a McDonald’s in Mooresville so he could respond to all the queries.
Meanwhile, I busied myself with Archie comics. Nah, I wrote today’s column on the marvelously mercurial nature of this Virginia Tech team, which is why tonight is really fascinating in my opinion. There are a million possibilities.
I like Joshua Stanford’s theory on the offseason lying to you. I asked him if, realizing this, he planned to be more realistic next offseason. The answer was unexpected, and good.
“No,” he said. “Because I don’t think I got to this level by being realistic. I came a long road to get here, and I didn’t get here by being realistic. People told me to be realistic and maybe not [try for] the ACC, maybe not a big school like Virginia Tech, focus on the mid-major schools…You just have to execute. When you get the opportunity, execute.”
Stanford, a Canuck who moved to Georgia for high school, didn’t get significant college offers until his senior year.
“There were a lot of people encouraging me, but there were also a lot of people telling me to be realistic,” he said. “That’s why I’m thankful for the opportunity.”
At the end of his always-fantastic matchup post, Andy predicted a 14-13 Georgia Tech victory. I picked the Hokies, mostly because of the aforementioned unpredictability of what we are about to see, but also because I’m languishing in 845th place in the Fearless Forecasters and need to make a move (struggling in that contest is like behaving as a blue-chip stock does. Compound, compound, compound.)
In-game blog coming at you tonight at 7:30. More nonsense before then if the muse strikes. For now, I’ll leave you with this quote that didn’t make the column from thoughtful and eloquent Virginia Tech receiver Willie Byrn, who was asked whether we make too much of this offense’s inconsistency, or whether this really is one of the more inconsistent offenses he’s ever been a part of:
“It’s more inconsistent than the years when Tyrod was going into his fourth year and Danny and Jarrett were one and two, the best receivers of all-time at Tech,” Byrn said. “That just comes with time. We’ve been working with this offense – the offense that we’re now putting in, more than just the base stuff – for a month or two, really. We definitely can be inconsistent. But I think we’re growing.”