Before you read on, go here to read my game story about Virginia Tech’s 34-27 loss to Boston College. It centers on Logan Thomas keeping both teams in the game Saturday.
As promised, here are some more post-game notes, quotes and stats …
Teammates, coaches back Thomas
The anti-Thomas brigade is going to be out in full force after this loss, one in which he committed four turnovers for a second straight week, even if not all of them can be blamed entirely on the quarterback.
While it’s many fans’ belief that the Hokies should try somebody else at quarterback, here ere are quotes from Virginia Tech’s coaches and players responding to any such chatter (some of these are in the game story):
Head coach Frank Beamer: “Never wavered in Cody Journell and never will waver in Logan. He’s too good a competitor. He’s too smart. He’s too much, everything is right about him. Maybe he tries too hard, but that’s not a bad fault. I think Logan gives us an opportunity to win.”
Receiver Josh Stanford: “Logan, he’s what gave us a shot to win. Every week, he’s what gives us a shot to win games. Logan Thomas. He’s our best opportunity to win games when he’s in the game. Period. End. The fans are quick to blame him. The fans aren’t in our meeting room. The fans aren’t watching film like we’re watching film. And a lot of fans are quick to turn on him, but we don’t pay attention to that.
“It’s frustrating for me and for a lot of us that know Logan and know what he’s doing and know that a lot of these errors are faults of other people, not him. But since all the eyes are on him, he takes the blame a lot of the time. And I feel it’s unacceptable. But fans are fans, and sometimes you can’t expect more out of them.”
Journell: “Fans, obviously, definitely have a shorter temper with anyone on the field. It’s easier to sit there and watch it happen and criticize people than to actually play and do it. But the guys on the team are obviously 100 percent behind every player on the team. I mean, last week was my week that I didn’t perform like I needed to and we got a loss. And it just happens to people from week to week.
“And it wasn’t totally on Logan, those turnovers in this game either. It was more of the whole offensive unit. Some of them you put on the o-line. Some of them you can put on the receivers. But you don’t point fingers in a time like this. You just kind of stick together, just take the blame as a whole team and come out tomorrow and get ready for the next week.”
Breaking down the turnovers
Thomas had four turnovers, giving him eight in two weeks. On Saturday, they were:
– The first, an interception early in the third quarter, came on a ball that bounced into the air off receiver Demitri Knowles‘ hands.
– The second, a fumble on a sack, came on a play where he was blindsided for a sack.
“I think Logan probably held it too long,” Beamer said. “He came back and he stepped up and Logan’s such a competitor and he’s waiting, he’s waiting and waiting. And the guy came off the backside. I was over, on the other side, I didn’t actually see the play. That’s the way it was explained to me.”
– Third, the pick six in the fourth quarter, came on a ball Thomas said he was trying throw away at Knowles’ feet. Instead, it floated into the air for an easy pick by Kevin Pierre-Louis.
“Probably could have just ate it and taken the sack,” Thomas said.
The pass was a mistake, but it was precipitated by a protection breakdown.
“The missed block caused the second problem,” Beamer said.
– The last, a fumble on a scramble, came when he was trying to get extra yards.
“I’m usually frustrated after every game that we lose, especially this one, just because I thought we had it in the bag,” Thomas said. “I made a bad play for the pick-6. I thought we had a great game plan coming in, and we did, and we executed very well other than the turnovers. That’s what hurts the most.”
Journell bounces back
Facing the prospect of throwing a Hail Mary right before the half or giving his struggling kicker, Journell, a chance to kick an extremely long field goal, Beamer chose the latter.
“He wanted a chance,” Beamer said. “I wanted to give him a chance.”
Beamer did and Journell repaid his loyalty, booting a career-long 56-yard field goal just before halftime that tied the longest in the NCAA this season.
It proved to be an afterthought in the Hokies’ 34-27 loss at Boston College, but it was a confidence builder for the struggling Journell, who was 8-for-14 on field goal attempts entering the day, having missed two in a three-point loss to Duke last week.
“If you’re thinking about making the field goal or missing, then you’re a step ahead already of where you should be,” Journell said. “So you’ve just got to be in the now. And I was.”
It was a career long for the senior by eight yards and put him in the record books. It tied for the third longest field goal in Virginia Tech history and was the longest during Beamer’s tenure, topping Shayne Graham’s 53-yarder against Clemson in 1998.
Journell later made a 47-yarder.
“If you can do it one time,” Beamer said, “you can do it every time.”
Record days, despite loss
Thomas’ last completion of the first half, a 14-yarder to tight end Kalvin Cline, moved him past Tyrod Taylor for first place on Virginia Tech’s all-time list for total offense. Thomas now has 9,463 career yards to Taylor’s 9,213.
He also tied Bryan Randall’s school record by throwing his 47th and 48th career touchdown passes. Thomas previously set the Hokies’ school records in completions, rushing touchdowns by a quarterback and passing yards.
But his 28 interceptions the last two years are also second most by a Hokies quarterback in a two-year stretch to Don Strock‘s 46 in 1971 and ’72).
Stanford, meanwhile, had six catches for a career-high 171 yards Saturday, the second most ever by a Hokies receiver in a losing effort under Beamer. Bittersweet?
“Just bitter,” Stanford said. “We play for W’s. And I’d take any game of the year where we get a W over this game.”
End of a streak
Senior cornerback Kyle Fuller did not play, the first game he’s missed in his career, snapping a streak of 49 straight contests.
Fuller was limited to special teams last week against Duke because of a groin injury. He wasn’t on the injury list this week but was bothered by it Saturday and kept on the sideline.
Antone Exum and Kendall Fuller started at cornerback, with Brandon Facyson coming in on the nickel.
The Hokies held Boston College to only 93 passing yards but gave up a 2-yard touchdown pass to fullback Jake Sinkovec on a play-action near the goal line in the third quarter. Eagles quarterback Chase Rettig completed 11 of 14 passes.
Off day defensively
Boston College running back Andre Williams ran for 166 yards on 33 carries, scoring on a 62-yard touchdown late. It gives him an ACC-best 1,176 rushing yards this year.
It was the most rushing yards the Hokies have given up to a single running back in 15 games, dating back to Giovani Bernard’s 262-yard day for North Carolina last year.
The Hokies, who entered the day tied for second nationally in sacks and 12th in turnovers forced, didn’t record a sack or a turnover Saturday. The last time that happened was at Miami last season.
Virginia Tech’s defense gave up an uncharacteristic 17 points in the fourth quarter. It had allowed only 13 points in the fourth quarter of the first eight games.
“We just didn’t make plays, didn’t get it done when we needed to,” linebacker Jack Tyler said. “Down the stretch, defensively, we were awful. That’s why we lost.”
– Receiver Willie Byrn suffered a lower back injury late in the game and didn’t return. There was no update on his status afterward.
– Charley Meyer replaced Byrn but couldn’t come up with any receptions despite several opportunities late. Meyer and freshman receiver Carlis Parker got their first career start in a five-wide package.
– Kyshoen Jarrett was dealing with a minor undisclosed injury as well. Although he stayed in on defense, he didn’t return punts, giving way to Byrn. When Byrn went down late, Kendall Fuller stepped in. Fuller had a negative-3-yard return on his only attempt.
– The Hokies ran the running back screen pass better than they had in recent memory. Running back Trey Edmunds caught a 22-yard touchdown pass on a screen in the fourth quarter. He also had a 46-yarder for a touchdown negated by a holding penalty on David Wang just before halftime.
– Thomas again shouldered the rushing load, gaining 38 yards on 20 carries. Edmunds and J.C. Coleman combined for only 17 yards on nine carries.
– Tech had a long kick return by Coleman negated by a holding penalty, but Knowles finally broke out of a season-long slump with a 48-yard return in the fourth quarter.
– Virginia Tech had six penalties for 50 yards. Boston College had one for five.
– Michael Branthover kicked off again and had three touchbacks in six attempts.
– Tyler and Jarrett led the defense with 11 tackles apiece.
– The Hokies gave up a season-high six sacks, including three to end Kasim Edebali. Edebali finished with eight tackles, four tackles for a loss and three forced fumbles.
The Hokies travel to Miami in a game that’s lost almost all of its luster from two weeks ago.
The Hurricanes play Florida State on Saturday night (a game in progress when this was posted) and could come back to the ACC pack with a loss. Miami is the only Coastal team without an ACC loss. Everyone else has at least two.
“We have to do our part and win out,” Tyler said. “That’s our goal right now is to win these last couple games. That’s all we can do and just hope for the best.”