It wasn’t pretty by any means, but the Virginia Tech Hokies pulled out a bigger win than most people outside of ACC territory would realize. By pulling out an overtime win against Georgia Tech, the Hokies have given themselves a statistical advantage to reach the ACC Championship Game. Since 2005, the team that has won this annual matchup has gone on to win the Coastal Division. That’s a stat that certainly bodes well for Virginia Tech.
Let’s take a quick look at some of the aspects of Virginia Tech’s 20-17 win over Georgia Tech.
Statistically, Virginia Tech was pretty good passing. Logan Thomas completed just around 60% of his passes last season, and he completed 55% against the Yellow Jackets. This is not taking into account about three to four drops and one throw away. That being said, Thomas was very up and down throughout the whole game. In the first and fourth quarters including overtime, Thomas played very well. Moreover, 140 of Thomas’ 230 yards all came in the fourth quarter and overtime.
Thomas did have a bad tendency to overthrow receivers high and wide multiple times last night. I’m not sure if it was a case of jitters, miscommunication, or poor technical execution, but at times last night Thomas looked like he had regressed from last season. When the game was on the line however, Thomas looked at his best. And it was that type of play that the NFL scouts in attendance hoped to see.
The wide receivers were also very up and down against Georgia Tech. Corey Fuller ended up being extremely important for the Hokies as he made a crucial reception late in the game to sustain a scoring drive while gaining yards after the catch. Fuller ended up with five receptions for 82 yards. Marcus Davis was very hard to read last night. There were moments when he would make a catch in stride and take it for extra yards, and other plays where he would either quit on a route or drop a pass that hit him right in the numbers. Davis is playing for a paycheck this year trying to prove that he is an NFL caliber wideout, and with scouts in attendance last night, I expected he would have a much better showing than he did on the effort front. The biggest disappointment was easily Dyrell Roberts though, who seemed almost afraid of contact. Because of this, Roberts ended up with only two receptions for five yards.
The run game started with a lot of read option that resulted in Thomas keeping the ball more often than not. My guess is that this was a result of the coaches or Thomas not being completely comfortable with the freshmen in the backfield. The Hokies used more counter reads when running with Thomas, allowing him to get outside and use his speed to beat the defense. This was pretty successful early in the game. Thomas ended up with 15 carries in the game though, which is more than I’d like to see from the quarterback.
Running back Michael Holmes had 13 carries for 54 yards and J.C. Coleman had only four carries for 25 yards. This was my biggest qualm with the playcalling – that is – the running backs didn’t see nearly enough action for my tastes. Michael Holmes was effective at times, especially late in the game in overtime when the Hokies needed him the most. Coleman proved to be a wonderful wrinkle in Virginia Tech’s offense and he provided a big spark when he was allowed to run. I expect to see a lot more of Coleman against Austin Peay.
The offensive line played well for most of the night, save a couple of plays where Michael Holmes was hit in the backfield early. Logan Thomas had ample time to throw the ball and there were plenty of holes to run between for the backs. Thomas only got sacked twice, once on a missed assignment by Michael Via, who started at right guard. I think most people who were coming into last night’s game skeptical of the offensive line have to be somewhat relieved. They did their job last night.
Stout – that’s the best word to use to describe the run defense against Georgia Tech last night. The Hokies only allowed 192 rushing yards against Georgia Tech’s triple option, which is the fewest rushing yards gained by Georgia Tech against Virginia Tech in a long, long time. Luther Maddy exerted his dominance last night and recorded five tackles. Moreover though, he blew up the interior of the line and disrupted any sense of rhythm that Georgia Tech tried to establish running inside.
The following players were outstanding in run support: Jack Tyler (17 tackles), Bruce Taylor (6 tackles), Kyshoen Jarrett (9 tackles), Derrick Hopkins (11 tackles), and Jeron Gouveia-Winslow (11 tackles). The one that stood out the most was Jarrett who laid the lumber multiple times, and came up to blow up outside sweeps time and time again. The defensive line was just as good as advertised, and should be a reassurance for every Hokie fan out there.
Georgia Tech isn’t a team that throws the ball too often, but they were pretty effective at it last night. Virginia Tech had some lapses in coverage, especially in the center of the field during intermediate crossing routes. Jack Tyler is great in run support, but he and Bruce Taylor on the field together is a liability in pass coverage. Against pass-heavy teams, I’m not sure if that combo is going to necessarily be viable. On Georgia Tech’s passing touchdown, Bud Foster blitzed both the whip (G-W) and the backer (Taylor), which left Jack Tyler to cover two underneath crossing routes by himself. I think Foster’s blitz-heavy gameplan, combined with Tyler’s general pass deficiencies led to a lot of completions. There’s no reason that a Georgia Tech quarterback should go 10 for 15 against this defense when completely healthy. Luckily the secondary was clutch when it mattered in overtime as Kyle Fuller picked off Tevin Washington, thus ending their scoring chance.
J.C. Coleman and Demitri Knowles were solid enough on kick returns, but Dyrell Roberts seemed completely disinterested in returning punts. There were a couple of special teams gaffes, however. A miscue by freshman punter A.J. Hughes on receiving a wide snap resulted in Georgia Tech getting the ball deep in Virginia Tech territory and set them up for their first touchdown. Also, Cody Journell missed a 39-yard field goal earlier in the game. Journell did make up for it by hitting the game-tying and then game-winning field goals in the fourth quarter and overtime respectively. Hughes also did punt pretty well on the night, averaging 36 yards per punt, landing three inside the 20-yard line. Overall, special teams was very average last night.
What we can take away from last night is that at least the Hokies have a tough test out of the way, and for once have started the season with a big win against a good opponent. They can focus on scrub opponent Austin Peay this Saturday, which is just the type of game they need after a rough matchup like yesterday. And as Hokie fans know, you can never complain about 1-0.