Virginia Tech coach Frank Beamer is a fan of golf, so it’s no surprise he likened kicker Cody Journell‘s struggles Saturday at East Carolina to a golfer’s swing that has gotten out of whack.
“I think every golfer knows you hit a big ol’ hook, now you try not to hook it and all of a sudden you’re slicing it,” Beamer said. “You leave it out there and don’t get your club face closed. He got into that a little bit.”
Beamer and Journell are trying to get to the root of the problem that led a kicker who had made more than 80 percent of his career field goals to be suddenly unable to make anything.
Journell called his performance in the Hokies’ 15-10 win against East Carolina the the worst game of his career. He pulled an extra point to the left, missed field goals of 40 and 38 yards and had a 32-yarder that he yanked to the left late in the game negated by a running into the kicker penalty.
Journell had a sore back in the middle of last week, although he didn’t think that was an issue. It was more mechanical than mental, he thinks.
“It definitely makes you think about what you did wrong, but I was excited to go out there every time, so I wouldn’t say it really affected me mentally,” Journell said. “But once you miss three, you’re definitely frustrated with yourself.”
Beamer said Monday that Journell’s plant foot was an issue, although he had a good corrective day of kicking Sunday.
With Virginia Tech’s offense still trying to find a rhythm under offensive coordinator Scot Loeffler, the Hokies need all the points they can get in close contests.
Last season was proof of that. Journell made game-winners against Georgia Tech, Virginia and Rutgers and sent the Boston College game to overtime with a late field goal.
“There’s no worry with Cody,” Beamer said. “He just got on a bad roll there the other day. We went back out and kicked [Sunday] and he was extremely good. He’s done it too long. He’s knocked too many right down the middle of the goal posts — he’s going to be just fine.”
Here are a few more notes and quotes from Monday:
– Defensive end James Gayle was named the ACC’s Defensive Lineman of the Week after finishing with three tackles, 2.5 TFLs and two sacks against East Carolina, one of which went for a safety late in the game.
– The Hokies have 12 sacks in three games after getting to East Carolina QB Shane Carden seven times Saturday. That’s tied for second most nationally. Beamer said it’s a combination of things, both coverage and a relentlessness from the defensive line.
“We’ve got some guys that I think are pretty good pass rushers,” Beamer said. “James Gayle, a great effort, great football game, and J.R. [Collins], same thing. Dadi Nicolas, he’s very athletic. When he gets in the game, just extremely productive. So it’s a combination. If he can make a quarterback hold it just a little bit longer than he’d like to, you’ve got a chance there. So I think that’s kind of what happened on a couple of those the other day.”
Beamer said senior defensive end Tyrel Wilson, who was limited to only a few snaps Saturday because of a knee injury, should be ready this week.
– Beamer said East Carolina stacked the box with eight players much of the afternoon, part of the reason the Hokies struggled to run the ball. Tech ran for only 53 yards on 34 carries, a 1.6-yard average. That came on the heels of a 4.6-yard rushing average against Alabama and 7.0 against Western Carolina.
“We can get hats on people and it’s just a matter of executing a little bit better,” he said. “I think the other side of that is if people are going to commit eight to the box, you’ve got to be able to throw it. And I thought we did a fairly good job of that. … But I’d like to get to the point where if we can get a hat on everybody that we’ve got a shot to pick up some yards.”
Asked if he thought teams would stack the box against the Hokies in the future, Beamer didn’t hedge one bit.
“I don’t think there’s a question,” he said. “I think most people probably take that approach. But again, I’m hopeful that we’re dangerous enough that you’ve got to think about it.”
– Brent Benedict started at right tackle for Laurence Gibson on Saturday because he had a better week of practice, Beamer said. He expects that competition to continue this week.
– Beamer does not expect cornerback Antone Exum to return to action this week. He said the Hokies are still waiting for him to get a checkup.
“I’m not sure exactly when he’ll be back,” Beamer said.
He was equally non-committal about running back J.C. Coleman, who has missed two of the first three weeks with an ankle injury. Beamer said the ankle “slowed down a little bit” late last week, which is why he didn’t travel. They’ll wait to determine his status for Marshall later this week.
Beamer also was hopeful that receiver Charley Meyer would get his first action this year. He’s been kept out with a hamstring injury.
– Demitri Knowles was one yard away from the first 100-yard game of his career Saturday, catching the ball against East Carolina better than he had the first couple weeks.
“Sometimes I think rather than catch it with his hands, he tries to use his body to help him catch it,” Beamer said. “But when he catches it in his hands, he’s got good hands. So it’s just a matter of him using his ability, really.”
– Beamer gave the usual kudos to this week’s opponent, Marshall, which comes into the game 2-1 but fresh off a 34-31 loss at Ohio in which it gained 482 yards but turned the ball over four times.
Quarterback Rakeem Cato, who led the country in passing last year, has 849 passing yards, seven touchdowns and two interceptions so far this year, looking like a far different player than the one who struggled against the Hokies two years ago.
“It’s just experience,” Beamer said. “Experience is a wonderful thing and the more you’re in an offense, the more you know where to go with the ball and the quicker you do that, the more accurate you become.”