OK, I’ve had time to add some quotes to my game story about Virginia Tech’s 35-10 loss to No. 1 Alabama on Saturday night at the Georgia Dome.
Now it’s time for some more notes and quotes from post-game interviews.
I’m going to try a new format with these post-game notes, highlighting the good first, the bad second and then throwing some miscellaneous items on at the end. Let me know how you think it works.
– Redshirt freshman running back Trey Edmunds was everything the Hokies hoped he would be in his debut, running for 132 yards against an Alabama defense that had only allowed 12 individual rushers to reach the 100-yard mark since the start of 2005, the fewest nationally.
Did the Hokies have a sense that kind of day was coming from Edmunds?
“Yeah, that’s why he hasn’t done anything in the scrimmages,” quarterback Logan Thomas said, meaning Tech didn’t want to get him hurt in the preseason.
Edmunds became the first Hokies freshman tailback to eclipse 100 yards in his debut since Shyrone Stith ran for 119 yards against Akron in 1996.
“Alabama’s defense? The name speaks for itself,” Edmunds said. “Just our offensive line being able to block like that and me being able to run behind them, it’s just wonderful. It gives me positive thinking on what can happen with us in the future.”
– The offensive line, routinely criticized as one of the weaker parts of the team, paved the way for Edmunds’ big day against an Alabama front seven that was touted as one of the best in the country.
The Hokies averaged 4.6 yards per carry, running for 153 yards total. Only Texas A&M ran for more against the Crimson Tide’s top-ranked rushing defense last year with 165.
“I was very impressed,” right guard Andrew Miller said. “I think we just put our heads down and came off the ball and stayed tough. That was the main thing.”
“They out-played us up front, if you want to know the truth,” Alabama head coach Nick Saban said.
– Bud Foster‘s defense turned in a performance to remember, even in a losing effort. The Hokies held a Crimson Tide offense heralded as among the best Saban has had at Alabama to 206 total yards. The Tide’s lowest total last year was 305 yards against Ole Miss.
Tech got very active games from linebackers Jack Tyler (8 tackles, 1 sack, 1.5 TFLs) and Tariq Edwards (6 tackles, 1.5 TFLs.) Young corners Kendall Fuller and Brandon Facyson didn’t looked overwhelmed. Kyshoen Jarrett was all over the field. Kyle Fuller had a game to remember, with a big interception after being dinged up early, getting hit in the head.
Tech had 12 tackles for a loss and four sacks, three of which came from defensive linemen (Luther Maddy, Dadi Nicolas and Nigel Williams.) Although he didn’t register a tackle, James Gayle was a force. Just ask Saban.
“That 99 gave us a lot of problems in pass protection,” Saban said. “Pushed the pocket. We were soft. Didn’t have a solid pocket. Quarterback didn’t feel comfortable.”
– The special teams did Virginia Tech no favors. Christion Jones had a punt and kick return for a touchdown. The gory details were highlighted throughout my game story, so I suggest reading that.
Will Beamer re-evaluate the personnel on his coverage teams, possibly going to back to using more veterans like the heyday of Beamer Ball?
“Absolutely,” he said.
It’s worth nothing that prior to the North Carolina game last year, Tech had gone 237 games without giving up a kick return for a touchdown, the longest streak in the country. Since then, the Hokies have given up two kick returns for touchdowns in nine games.
– For as good as the running game looked, the passing game looked out of sync. Thomas had an ugly stat line, finishing 5-for-26 for only 59 yards. Thirty-four of those came on one play to D.J. Coles.
His receivers did him no favors, with numerous drops. Demitri Knowles was a multiple offender.
“We’ve just got to correct some stuff,” Thomas said. “They can be as good as they want to be, and we’ve just got to push the right buttons and get them going, and once they do, we’re going to be a dangerous offense.”
“It’s just a matter of concentration and confidence,” Beamer said. “We’re gonna throw a lot of balls this week.”
– Despite Thomas’ stat line, Beamer wasn’t placing a lot of blame on his senior signal caller, who, for all the talk of refined mechanics and a new outlook this season, had results that were startlingly similar to last season.
But he didn’t have a ton of help. The pass protection was mediocre. Even though it sacked him only once, Alabama pressured Thomas all night. The stats made a bad stat line look much, much worse.
“He made a lot of good plays, a lot of good decisions, and if we helped him out you never know,” Beamer said. “But Logan’s fine. He’s a smart guy. He’s competitive. A leader of this football team. We just got to help him out.”
“I felt pretty good,” Thomas said. “I didn’t try to put the ‘S’ on my chest. I just went out and made as many plays as I could. I give credit to the defense. They played us tough. They made everything hard. That’s to be expected. We’ve just got to make plays as an offense.”
– The offense didn’t get any kind of consistent yardage. Take away the two big plays the Hokies had — Edmunds’ 77-yard run and Coles’ 34-yard catch — and Tech had 101 yards on its other 57 plays. That averages out to only 1.77 yards per play.
“I said this going in, you play a team like Alabama and flaws, if you got them, show up,” Beamer said. “And I think a couple of them showed up tonight.”
– Eight true freshmen made their debuts: defensive tackle Woody Baron, safety Chuck Clark, Facyson and Fuller, kicker Mitchell Ludwig, offensive tackle Jonathan McLaughlin and fullbacks Sam Rogers and Jerome Wright.
– Wide receiver Charley Meyer dressed but did not play because of a hamstring issue. Beamer hopes to have him next week. He said the same about running back J.C. Coleman, who did not travel because of a pair of sprained ankles.
– Defensive tackle Kris Harley did not travel with the team. He’s been buried on the depth chart, behind Baron and redshirt freshmen Alston Smith and Williams. Although he’s had a shoulder issue, he wasn’t on the injury list Thursday.
– Punter A.J. Hughes had a 45.1-yard average on 13 punts, although many didn’t have great hangtime, leading to returns. Alabama’s Christion Jones had four punt returns for 100 yards, with the 72-yard touchdown.
– Jarrett returned from second-half cramps to return a punt 43 yards, the lone special teams highlight of the night for the Hokies. Willie Byrn and Kendall Fuller both were back to field a punt Saturday as well.
– As I mentioned in the game story, while Alabama was upset about how it played, Virginia Tech was almost oddly content with its performance, despite the 25- points loss.
“I think you can ask any of the guys: they’re all encouraged,” Thomas said. “Obviously we’re upset that we lost, but most of us have smiles on our faces because we know how good we can be.”