Virginia Tech had its biggest come-from-behind victory under head coach Frank Beamer on Saturday, erasing a 20-point deficit by scoring 41 straight points in a 41-20 win against Duke. Read my game story here.
Now for some more post-game notes and quotes …
** Keep in mind, this happened against Duke. And although the Blue Devils are improved, they still have an extremely backloaded schedule, so that 5-2 start is somewhat misleading.
However, coming back from a 20-point deficit is still impressive, no matter who the competition is. A few Hokies think the team turned a corner.
“Honestly, I think we kind of found ourselves as a whole,” safety Detrick Bonner said. “We haven’t come together as a group completely in the last six games. … But I feel like we came together.”
The comeback was the biggest of the Beamer era, topping a 41-30 win at N.C. State two years ago when the Hokies erased a 17-0 deficit.
Quarterback Logan Thomas was almost prophetic in his pre-game speech, which focused on sticking together even if things don’t start out great.
“It happens to somebody every week, and every week somebody battles right on back,” Thomas said. “We’ve got to stick together as teammates and be positive. And that’s what we were.”
Although Lane Stadium was deathly quiet, linebacker Bruce Taylor said there was no panic on the sideline. He said guys were more “pissed off” than anything.
“I swear on my grandmother’s life that that’s what I was thinking,” he said. “It was the first quarter, we were down 20. But I can’t change. Because if I get down, who are guys going to look at? That’s how I look at it. So you’ve got to stay positive in what y’all did and keep playing and it shows. So just stay resilient and keep coming and good things will happen for you.”
Receiver Marcus Davis had perhaps the best quote about the team’s feeling during the comeback.
“I know what we can do,” he said. “I’ve always got faith in my boys. It’s just up to us to go do it. Once we got up, we just started pounding it. You could tell that they really didn’t want to play with us anymore, so we just had to keep stepping on it and just keep firing.”
** Mistakenly had biggest second-half comebacks by Beamer up here before. These are the biggest comebacks under Beamer in ACC play:
- Today: 20 points vs. Duke (trailed 20-0, won 41-20
- 2010: 17 points at N.C. State (trailed 17-0, won 41-30)
- 2010: 14 points vs. Georgia Tech (trailed 14-0, won 28-21)
- 2008: 14 points vs. North Carolina (trailed 17-3, won 20-17)
- 2004: 14 points vs. Georgia Tech (trailed 14-0, won 34-20)
** Starting with the offense, the big game was from running back J.C. Coleman, who supplanted Michael Holmes as the No. 1 tailback and ran for 183 yards and two touchdowns on only 13 carries. It was the most rushing yards in a game by a true freshman under Beamer and was the ninth-most by any player under Beamer.
Coleman had touchdown runs of 45 and 86 yards.
“It kind of took me back to high school, when I had a lot of long runs,” said Coleman, an Oscar Smith product who had 31 carries for 136 yards entering the day. “It felt good to finally be able to break through and finally be able to have a big game.”
How good was the running game for a change? In their first two ACC games, the Hokies had 60 carries for 134 yards and one touchdown. They had 39 carries for 269 yards and three touchdowns Saturday.
So, does that make Holmes the No. 1 guy from now on? Thomas had a great response to that.
“It’s not up to me, obviously,” he said. “J.C. played a great game. Y’all asked me the same thing a couple week ago when [Tony Gregory] had a great game. It’s not up to me. I have confidence in all those guys.”
** It was a big passing game too, particularly between Thomas and Marcus Davis. Davis finished with five catches for 144 yards, hauling in touchdown catches of 42 and 47 yards in what was the Hokies’ biggest offensive output in two years.
“Marcus is a superior athlete, to anybody on our team even,” Thomas said. “He’s 6-4, big, strong guy, fast. So yeah, I expect him to win every jump ball. And I expect him to win every one-on-one matchup.”
A lot of it had to do with Duke having to pay attention to the running game.
“They started respecting the run,” Davis said. “We knew once they snuck it up, it was up to us to run past them.”
Davis got up a little slow on the last one. He said his shoulder slipped out and back in but said afterward that it was just “a little sore.”
** The offense as a whole had a big day. The Hokies finished with 525 yards, their most since a 52-21 win against Wake Forest in 2010. They scored 40 points in a league game for the first time since a 44-33 win against Florida State in the 2010 ACC championship.
** It wasn’t all good news. Virginia Tech may be without center Andrew Miller for a while after he left in the third quarter with a fractured left ankle. He’ll be re-evaluated Sunday.
Miller stayed down at the end of the first play of the Hokies’ second drive after halftime. Trainers helped him off the field. He wasn’t putting any pressure on his left foot.
The injury left Tech in a bind. Backup center Caleb Farris didn’t dress because of an ankle injury. Senior Michael Via slid over from left guard, with Matt Arkema coming off the bench to fill his spot. The Hokies had three mishandled snaps between Thomas and Via in the third quarter, although it didn’t stop them from scoring.
** On defense (and Aaron McFarling will cover more of this in his column tomorrow), the Hokies felt like the real Virginia Tech defense showed up in the final three quarters. Tech held Duke to 185 yards and no points in the final 49 minutes. The Blue Devils had minus-2 yards in the third quarter.
The Hokies forced four turnovers, getting a crucial one just before halftime when Bonner picked off a tipped pass and took it back into Duke territory, setting up a touchdown pass to Davis in the final seconds.
“I felt like it was a game-changing play,” Bonner said.
For the first time all season, the Hokies pressured the quarterback with consistency. They finished with five sacks after having only eight the first six games.
“It’s definitely a showing of things that can come,” defensive end James Gayle said. “We’ve got some great athletes on defensive line. We just have to capitalize.”
** Defensive tackle Luther Maddy, who had battled an ankle injury the last few weeks, had his most active game since the opener, finishing with three tackles, two sacks and a fumble recovery.
Maddy didn’t star (Antoine Hopkins did). He suffered an ankle injury on the first play of the Cincinnati game two weeks ago, then tweaked it against North Carolina. He hadn’t had a tackle for a loss since the Georgia Tech game to open the season.
“Luther is probably one of the best pass rushing defensive tackles in the ACC,” Gayle said. “You’ve got to watch him practice. He just showed what he can do today.”
Gayle, Tyrel Wilson and Dadi Nicolas also had sacks.
** The win was Beamer’s 255th as a head coach, putting him in a tie for seventh place with Nebraska’s Tom Osborne on the career wins list for Football Bowl Subdivision coaches. BYU’s LaVell Edwards is next with 257 wins.
It was also the Hokies’ 200th in the history of Lane Stadium.
** Here are a few quick-hitters:
- Cody Journell made two field goals. He’s made 19 of his last 20 going back to last year.
- Sophomore Brent Benedict made his first career start at right guard.
- Redshirt freshman safety Michael Cole made his first career interception in the second quarter and recovered a fumble in the fourth quarter.
- Martin Scales‘ touchdown run in the first quarter was the second of his career.
- Gayle had a monster game, with nine tackles, 2.5 TFLs and a sack. He also had two quarterback hurries.
** The win was huge in terms of the Coastal Division. North Carolina held on to beat Miami 18-14, handing the ‘Canes their first ACC loss.
The ACC Coastal standings now look like this. Things are wide open:
- Miami 3-1
- North Carolina 2-1 (ineligible)
- Virginia Tech 2-1
- Duke 2-1
** It’s a tough stretch coming up for the Hokies, starting with a game at Clemson next week. How do they transfer what they did Saturday to that game?
“Same thing we’ve been doing,” Taylor said. “There’s nothing different we can do except go out and play our hardest. Clemson is a good team, but I think we can beat them. I think we’ve got the personnel to get it done.”