It was far from pretty for the second time this week, but the Hokies got the job done against FCS opponent Austin Peay. A mere five days after playing a very physical game against in-division rival Georgia Tech, Virginia Tech came out flat in just about every aspect.
Lane Stadium was far from capacity, the crowd that was there was lackluster, and the same could be said for the team itself. Both physically and mentally, the Hokies seemed exhausted from the Georgia Tech game on Monday night. Had Austin Peay been replaced with a better team, this could have definitely been a letdown.
Per the norm, Virginia Tech’s offense struggled to find a rhythm. On the Hokies’ first play, freshman J.C. Coleman took a sweep 11 yards before losing the football and turning it over. In the first quarter as a whole the team amassed only 59 yards. Logan Thomas played another very up and down game – at times making NFL caliber throws and other times looking like a true freshman himself. One thing I’ve noticed about Thomas this year is that he not only keeps missing high and wide on intermediate routes, but he doesn’t seem to be working through his progressions as quickly as he could be. It doesn’t make sense for the Hokies to run out four wide receivers if Logan is only going to make it through three reads including a dump down to a tight end or running back.
One thing that made life extremely tough for the Hokies was the lack of a push from the offensive line against the vastly undersized Austin Peay defensive line. Peay had only two defensive linemen weighing more than 260 pounds and rarely were the Hokies able to push their way downfield and open up holes. In fact, the offensive line play was so underwhelming that even on a 4th and 1 quarterback sneak with Logan Thomas (#LetLoganLean), it was stuffed and the Hokies failed to convert. Virginia Tech is now 0-4 on those QB sneaks this season having missed three times in a row against Georgia Tech.
Defensively the Hokies played well enough. Chase Williams did an alright job filling in for Bruce Taylor (who was filling in for Tariq Edwards). One thing of note is the success of Jack Tyler so far this season. Tyler has 25 tackles through two games so far and has shown signs of being a legitimate stud defensively. Whenever Tariq Edwards does make his return, I expect to see a lot of Tyler either way. In the first half the defense held Austin Peay well enough, but in the second half the Governors put together some decent drives, one culminating in a long touchdown run.
Special teams ended up being the biggest story of the day for the Hokies against Austin Peay. Kyshoen Jarrett provided a big spark with a long punt return that set up Virginia Tech’s first scoring chance. And Tony Gregory blocked his second punt in two years (last year’s was also against an FCS opponent, Appalachian State). If the Hokies can take anything away from this game, it was the improved play of the entire special teams unit. I’m far from stating that Beamer Ball is back, but maybe this will begin a resurgence of sorts for the Hokies. One can dream, at least.
Either way, 2-0 is 2-0 and that’s all you can ask after a stressful, busy week like this one was. The Hokies will enjoy this week before heading up to play the pitiful Pittsburgh Panthers on Saturday. Hopefully players like Bruce Taylor can get back to full health and can see the field again. This early in the season, that’s all you can ask for from this team.