Tech column: Hokies reclaim winning formula, feeling.
FINAL: Virginia Tech 19, Pittsburgh 9. Hokies (6-1, 3-0) win their sixth straight.
The quarter ends with Tech leading 16-3 and setting up for another field goal attempt.
The Hokies are at that point now where any lead seems much bigger than it is. There’s a remarkable level of comfort that comes with this, and it’s something they’ve had a lot over the years — just not most of last season.
So they can tinker with the offense, do things like they’ve done today (try to get the tight end involved, spread the ball around to different receivers to determine which one’s hot, etc.) and not worry about it costing them the game.
Logan Thomas seems to understand that he simply needs to manage the offense, not press. It’s easy to forget how often he had to press last year when Tech’s defense wasn’t up to its usual standards.
The Hokies go to the locker room will a 10-3 lead after a late 47-yard field goal by Pittsburgh.
Tech’s defense has been the prevailing story, again. Pittsburgh gained just 62 total yards over its first six possessions (adding 51 during the two-minute drill at the end of the period, for a total of 113) and hasn’t been allowed much time to get the ball to its talented receivers.
Tyler Boyd – who seemed to be all over the field against Virginia two weeks ago – has only one catch for 10 yards, and that came late in the period (he also drew a pass-interference penalty on Brandon Facyson on a third down pass, so perhaps the Panthers are starting to look for him a little bit more now.)
This seems to be Tech’s M.O. lately – grab a lead and then just kind of sit on it for a while, trust the defense, trade some punts. I think part of this is due to their inability to establish a consistent running game. When you can’t just bowl over people, you rely more on key third down completions, which can run hot or cold for most people not named Peyton Manning.
Tech tight end Kalvin Cline is enjoying a breakout game. After averaging 19.8 receiving yards per game coming into today, he’s already got 60 against Pittsburgh, including his first touchdown catch. You can see the development, perhaps, of some of the tight end emphasis that offensive coordinator Scot Loeffler says he had planned for Ryan Malleck before Malleck went down with an injury in the middle of August.
Thomas is 10-for-17 for 119 yards and a touchdown. The team’s rushing average has now dipped to 2.0 per tote, with J.C. Coleman leading the way with 12 yards on two carries. Trey Edmunds has three yards on four.
The Hokies will get the ball to start the third quarter.
The quarter ends with the Hokies leading 10-0 and Pittsburgh still seeking its initial first down of the game.
In other words, Tech’s having its way so far.
The Panthers have nine total yards on their three drives so far, as Jack Tyler (three tackles, ½ sack) and Dadi Nicolas (two tackles, ½ sack) have been particularly active in the front seven.
Logan Thomas is 6-for-10 for 77 yards and a touchdown. The Hokies haven’t gotten the ground game untracked yet; they’re averaging 3 yards on their nine totes. That caused them to come up short of the end zone on their second drive, but Cody Journell connected on a 48-yard field goal.
On their first drive, the Hokies did a nice job attacking the right side (the Pittsburgh defense’s left side) in the passing game, getting significant gains from tight end Kalvin Cline and receiver Willie Byrn. The touchdown pass to Cline was on that side, too, a precise throw leading him toward the sideline.
VT – Cline 27 pass from Thomas (Journell kick), 10:11. Drive: Eight plays, 71 yards, 3:48. Key play: Cline 18 pass from Thomas to PITT 38. Virginia Tech 7, Pittsburgh 0.
VT – FG Journell 48, 4:29. Drive: Seven plays, 29 yards, 3:28. Key play: Byrn 4 pass from Thiomas plus Pitts 15 personal foul penalty to PITT 37. Virginia Tech 10, Pittsburgh 0.
PITT – FG Blewitt 47, :14. Eight plays, 51 yards, 1:08. Key play: Street 48 pass from Savage to VT 20. Virginia Tech 10, Pittsburgh 3.
VT – FG Journell 37, 9:50. Drive: 11 plays, 69 yards, 5:03. Key play: Knowles 40 pass from Thomas to PITT 36. Virginia Tech 13, Pittsburgh 3.
VT – FG Journell 42, 3:36. Drive: 11 plays, 45 yards, 5:06. Key play: Stanford 20 pass from Thomas to PITT 38. Virginia Tech 16, Pittsburgh 3.
VT – FG Journell 23, 3:27. Drive: Seven plays, 29 yards, 3:17. Key play: Byrn 25 pass from Thomas to PITT 10. Virginia Tech 19, Pittsburgh 3.
PITT – Savage 9 run (pass failed), 2:01. Drive: Seven plays, 75 yards, 1:26. Key play: Street 33 pass from Savage to VT 9. Virginia Tech 19, Pittsburgh 9.
Pittsburgh, Thomas 5-7-0, Price 4-4-0, Gonzalez 3-5-0, Donald 3-3-2, Ezell 1-5-0, Vinopal 0-6-0, Galambos 2-3-0, Hendricks 2-3-0, Grigsby 3-1-0, Williams 3-1-0, Murphy 2-1-1, Pitts 1-2-0, Howard 0-2-0, Bradley 1-0-0, Lazenga 1-0-0, Render 1-0-0, Orndoff 1-0-0, Durham 0-1-0, Crockett 0-1-0, Giubilato 0-1-0, Gordon 0-1-0, Lewis 0-1-0, Totals 33-48-3.
Virginia Tech, Nicolas 3-4-3, Tyler 0-7-1, Jarrett 3-2-0, Collins 1-4-.5, Maddy 1-4-.5, Hopkins 2-2-2, Bonner 2-2-0, Facyson 2-1-0, Ke. Fuller 2-1-0, Ky. Fuller 2-1-0, Clark 1-2-0, Gayle 1-1-1, Clarke 0-2-0, D’Antuono 0-2-0, Baron 1-0-0, Williams 1-0-0, Ekanem 1-0-0, Greene 0-1-0, Williams 0-1-0, Edwards 0-1-0, Totals 23-38-8.
Saturday column: Optimistic solutions to early Virginia Tech kicks. Thanks to everybody for their help.
Kickoff, naturally, is at noon. Hokies favored by 9. TV: ESPNU. Drop by and share your thoughts on this game or any other. Here’s Andy’s matchup post to get you set.