Here’s an early look at tomorrow’s game story from the Hokies’42-7 win against Austin Peay. Now for some more notes and quotes:
** To say “Beamer Ball” is back after only a few big plays against a team from the Football Championship Subdivision would be premature. But the fact that the Hokies’ special teams produced some momentum shifting plays Saturday against Austin Peay was at least an encouraging sign.
Kyshoen Jarrett had a long punt return and Tony Gregory blocked a punt, two plays that gave a jolt of energy to a listless Virginia Tech team in what would eventually be a comfortable 42-7 win.
Jarrett’s return came after Virginia Tech had gained 19 yards on its first three drives. He and Michael Holmes took over the job from Dyrell Roberts, who was mediocre in the opener.
Jarrett, who doubles as the starting rover on defense, got by the initial gunners and broke free, going 46 yards before being dragged down at the Austin Peay 6, setting up a touchdown.
“I don’t think it affects me at all,” Jarrett said of pulling double duty. “Special teams is what I have to do to put the offense in the best position and then go back out there for defense, and I just perform to the best of my ability.”
Gregory’s block came midway through the second quarter and gave Virginia Tech possession at the Austin Peay 42, setting up a short scoring drive.
“I saw they played soft on the left side of their punt team,” Gregory said. “I got a jump on the ball and it’s kind of hard for the defender to get his hands on me.”
Gregory also had the Hokies’ last blocked punt, which came in last year’s season opener against Appalachian State.
“He’s got a burst on the backside,” head coach Frank Beamer said. “He almost got another one. He’s got a burst of speed and I think a good knack for blocking kicks too.”
For a team that had few big returns last season and only one blocked punt, it was a solid start on special teams. It was the 64th blocked punt for the Hokies during Beamer’s tenure.
“That’s what coach Beamer is known for,” cornerback Kyle Fuller said. “That definitely brings momentum. … We need that momentum in tough games.”
** Linebacker Bruce Taylor dressed but did not play because of a sprained ankle he suffered against Georgia Tech.
Sophomore Chase Williams made his first career start in Taylor’s place and finished with two tackles and a tackle for loss.
“I think he played well,” linebacker Jack Tyler said. “Chase is a good player. That’s the one good thing about the linebacker room. We have a lot of depth.”
Defensive tackles Luther Maddy and Antoine Hopkins, who were questionable with ankle injuries, both played a significant portion of Saturday’s game. Hopkins had an active day, with six tackles and a tackle for a loss. Maddy was in on two stops.
** Two more true freshmen got their first college action Saturday, when cornerback Donaldven Manning and wide receiver Joshua Stanford both got in the game.
Manning made a nice over-the-shoulder interception on Austin Peay’s final drive in the fourth quarter.
Stanford made his first reception on a 9-yard pass from backup quarterback Mark Leal.
Seven true freshmen have played this year for Virginia Tech. Punter A.J. Hughes, running back J.C. Coleman, linebacker Deon Clarke, cornerback Donovan Riley and safety Desmond Frye all got their first action against Georgia Tech.
** Hughes, who was best known for a costly dropped snap in the Georgia Tech game, punted five times for a 44-yard average Saturday, with two downed inside the 20.
“I think we took a step forward with our kicking game today,” Beamer said.
** Coaches didn’t have high hopes this year for redshirt freshman defensive end Dadi Nicolas, who missed almost all of preseason practice after being suspended for his arrest on grand larceny. He was reinstated on the eve of the season after having the charge reduced to a misdemeanor but was so far behind that coaches didn’t envision him playing much.
Nicolas proved them wrong Saturday, getting in during the fourth quarter and making three tackles, including 1½ tackles for a loss, and a quarterback hurry.
“He’s a very athletic guy that’s just kind of learning to be a good player,” Beamer said. “But there’s nothing wrong with his effort and there’s nothing wrong with his athletic ability. Now we’ve just got to channel that into our defense.”
** Receiver Corey Fuller’s 30-yard touchdown catch was the first of his career. He thought he was going to take a shot once he caught it, but no one was around.
“I felt like there was a safety right on my back,” Fuller said. “And I started adjusting and when I saw nobody was there, that’s when I tried to go and make a play.”
The Hokies spread the ball around Saturday. Ten different receivers caught passes. Roberts led the way with five catches for 50 yards. Tight end Randall Dunn, who lost his shoe on the hurry-up drive before the half but still caught a key 20-yard pass, had three catches for 39 yards and a touchdown. Fuller had two catches for 44 yards, and Marcus Davis had two catches for 34 yards.
Davis, surprisingly, also led the team in rushing with 48 yards, despite only getting two carries on a reverse and a sweep. Knowles also had 21 yards rushing, with a 15-yarder to his credit.
Hokies running backs Holmes, J.C. Coleman, Gregory and Scales combined for 26 carries and 133 yards, a 5.1-yard average, with three touchdowns.
Coleman and Gregory technically got the start, because of the sweep formation Virginia Tech came out in. Coleman got the ball and went 11 yards but lost a fumble at the end of the play.
** Kyle Fuller made his second interception in as many games this season. He has four in his career. Saturday’s came in the end zone after he had been flagged for pass interference earlier in the drive.
“I came into the season wanting to make plays no matter how,” Fuller said. “I’m just going to try to continue to do that this season.”
** Tyler led the team with eight tackles. He has 25 through two weeks.
In all, 28 players had at least one tackle, so the Hokies certainly got everyone involved Saturday.
** The special, all-white Hokie tracks helmets did not go over well with the fan base when they were first revealed last month, but the players came around on them.
“I guess I was just so fond of last year’s, with the throwback VT that this was just a lot different,” said quarterback Logan Thomas, who tweeted that they were “ugly” when they first came out. “They’re growing [on me].”
The helmets will be auctioned off on Virginia Tech’s athletics website this week for a good cause, with proceeds going to Herma’s Readers, a non-profit organization that promotes the reading and literacy to youngsters during their formative years, in grades K-3.