If you missed yesterday’s post-game blog post wrapping up the Hokies’ 37-0 win against Bowling Green, you can read it here.
Here are five thoughts coming out of the game:
1. It was a nice win for Virginia Tech, a needed one, but ultimately doesn’t tell you too much about the Hokies.
Sure, the shutout was nice for the Hokies. So was the fact that the running game got going for the first time this season. But what can you take from a win against Bowling Green? This was a team that hung with Florida, but it didn’t look anything like that group Saturday. Part of that might have been that the Hokies were playing well. Part of it might have been that the Falcons, outside of defensive tackle Chris Jones and punter Brian Schmiedebusch, aren’t all too good. I don’t think it gives Tech fans any clarity as to whether this team can compete with the Clemsons and Florida States of the conference, or even the North Carolinas and Cincinnatis coming up on the schedule. But it wasn’t another letdown. And on a day when Mid-American Conference teams sprung some upsets (Central Michigan over Iowa, Western Michigan over Connecticut, Northern Illinois over Kansas), the Hokies can at least take heart that they weren’t anywhere close to joining that list.
2. That said, the ground game actually moving the ball is encouraging for Tech.
Virginia Tech finally proved it can run the ball against a team it should be able to run the ball against. Bowling Green was only allowing 118.7 yards per game on the ground this year (although that might be because teams had so much success throwing against it). Still, the Hokies ran 43 times for 246 yards. After rushing for only 342 yards in their first three games, including 119-and 56-yard efforts against Georgia Tech and Pittsburgh (subtracting out the loss on botched punt snap), that’s a welcome change.
The question remains if Tech’s by-committee approach will continue, and if so, will it continue to work. Tony Gregory looked fast getting to the edges against Bowling Green. Will he look so fast against Cincinnati? My guess is he won’t, although that doesn’t mean he can’t be successful. The Hokies used Michael Holmes and J.C. Coleman in a lot of read option plays in which Logan Thomas kept the ball. That misdirection was billed as a big part of the Hokies’ offense this offseason, and Saturday was the most anyone has seen them stick with it. Virginia Tech is 185-34-2 under Frank Beamer when it out-rushes opponents, so getting back to a run-first mentality is probably a good thing for this offense.
3. I wonder how quickly Logan Thomas’ thumbnail will heal and if it affects his throwing at all?
I won’t go through the gruesome details of the fingernail injury Thomas suffered on his quarterback sneak for a touchdown yesterday (read the post-game wrap blog post for that), but he wasn’t nearly the same passer as he was after the injury as before. Before the injury, he was 9-for-17 for 127 yards and two scores, about in line with how he’s been throwing this year. After the injury, he was just 2-for-9 for 17 yards and an interception (granted, he came out late in the blowout for Mark Leal). Since in the injury was on the thumb of his throwing hand, you’d figure it would affect how he grips the ball. I’m not sure the healing time involved in having a fingernail ripped back like that, but you wonder if it could linger into next week’s game against Cincinnati. We shall see.
4. That was another good performance by the defense, but again, it was a mismatch.
The defense got its 26th shutout with Bud Foster as coordinator, notching one for the third straight year. But like I mentioned before, it doesn’t tell you a whole heck of a lot about how this team will do going forward. Bowling Green did a lot of short, quick passes. Duke might be the only team on the schedule that plays a similar style. The Hokies handled it well, limiting the Falcons to 133 yards passing and 133 yards rushing, the last stat bumped up by a 47-yard run late on a bust by the reserves. But the challenge amps up for Foster’s crew in the next few weeks. Butch Jones‘ offense at Cincinnati was maddening for Pittsburgh to stop, with the Bearcats spreading the field and attacking the edge with their athletes in space (including quarterback Munchie Legaux). After that, Tech has a date with Larry Fedora and North Carolina, which likes to spread the field as well. This will be a new challenge for the Hokies this season, one they didn’t handle so great last year (refer to the Clemson games for proof). It will be interesting to see if this defense has made strides to be successful against those spread teams.
5. So much for Georgia Tech being the Hokies’ primary threat in the Coastal Division.
The Yellow Jackets lost to Miami 42-36 in overtime, starting slow (they were down 19-0) and collapsing late (the ‘Canes scored the final 23 points) to fall to 1-2 in the ACC. That’s huge for a team expected to be Virginia Tech’s primary competition for the division title. Georgia Tech is now two games down in the loss column and on the short end of the head-to-head tiebreaker with the Hokies. Now, the question is if Miami is legit? I have my doubts. The “Canes are 2-0 in the ACC, with wins against Boston College and Georgia Tech. They’re young but talented. And those types of teams generally seem to flash that brilliance one week and flame out the next. My biggest concern about Miami, surprisingly, is the defense. The Hurricanes have been better-than-advertised on offense, but they’ve surrendered 32 points (Boston College), 52 (Kansas State) and 36 (Georgia Tech) against three FBS foes this season. They’re 98th nationally in total defense, allowing 452 yards a game. Only Wake Forest has been worse in the ACC.
Miami catches a break by not playing Clemson this year. Its remaining conference schedule is: vs. N.C. State, vs. North Carolina, vs. Florida State, vs. Virginia Tech, at Virginia and at Duke. That’s pretty favorable, with the two easiest games on the slate being on the road. My hunch is that the Hurricanes aren’t quite ready to compete for a division title, but let’s be honest: 5-3 might win the Coastal this year. The division just isn’t that good. However things play out, suddenly Virginia Tech’s Thursday night game at Miami on Nov. 1 takes on a much bigger significance.