One might suggest that Virginia Tech picked up where they left off from last season with a near-worrisome display on offense today in the spring game. I say near-worrisome because to worry at this point would be over reactionary and, in my opinion, silly. The white team (backups) defeated the orange team (starters) 27-9 while being spotted 13 points before the game started. The white team didn’t need the free points. Here’s the scoop on today’s spring game:
- Logan Thomas had a bad day – plain and simple. Thomas went 16-29 for 214. Not bad, right? Well, take into account the three (yes, three) interceptions that Thomas threw and the two (yes, two) of those that were returned for touchdowns, and you have a clearer picture of a rough outing for the Hokies quarterback. At times Logan looked like an improved quarterback, making hard throws look easy and fitting the ball into tight windows. Other times he looked like the same quarterback we saw last year, one riddled with poor decisions and bouts of inaccuracy. I will tell anyone reading this post to temper expectations with Thomas though. Thomas and the rest of the offense have only had a month to work with new offensive coordinator Scot Loeffler. Is the summer going to be critical in Thomas’ development? You bet your ass it will be. But Thomas also has 132 days to turn this thing around.
- Mark Leal was the only Virginia Tech quarterback to lead his group to point today. Leal scored the only offensive touchdown of the day (yes, you read that correctly) by hitting tight end Ryan Malleck for a 30-yard touchdown in the third quarter. However, Leal was only 3-8 for 60 yards today with the first-team offense. Those clamoring for Leal to start should also temper their expectations.
- One can’t help but be concerned with how the running game looked today for both the starters and the backups. Michael Holmes had the most yardage of any running back today with 24. Trey Edmunds, who most Virginia Tech fans and coaches have been excited about, had a lackluster day with only 11 yards on eight carries. It should be noted that Edmunds was the first running back to take a snap for the orange team and had a near-touchdown run that was negated due to a holding call. If you combined the white and orange team running backs the total yardage would equal 34 yards on 36 carries. You can do the math, but that’s less than one yard per carry. Ouch.
- Most of the struggles in the run game can be attributed to a lack of push along the offensive line, something that we all saw in bunches last season. New offensive line coach Jeff Grimes has his work cut out for him in molding this unit into one that can handle not only Alabama, but ACC defensive lines. The first-team offensive line struggled to get push up front against the second-string defense, which is extremely problematic and telling. This is a group that still isn’t tough enough, and maybe just not good enough. One bright spot on the offensive line was freshman Johnathan McLaughlin who has been taking reps at first-team left tackle. He has proven surprisingly physical and has been able to hold his own in almost every situation thrown at him.
- For the wide receivers, Josh Stanford looked excellent, as he has all spring. I’ve been saying this all spring, Stanford is one to watch and so far he looks like Logan Thomas’ favorite target. Stanford led all receivers with 86 yards today on three receptions.
- Tight end Zach McCray also had a good showing today. McCray, who made the switch from defensive end to tight end during the off-season, caught four balls today for 65 yards. And like I mentioned earlier, Ryan Malleck caught the only offensive touchdown of the day for either team.
- Both defenses are clearly ahead of the offenses right now, but that’s usually the case. The first-team offensive line still didn’t show a lot in terms of getting to the passer. The orange team defensive line recorded four combined tackles for loss, but didn’t record a sack. The orange team defense as a whole recorded seven tackles for loss, but no sacks. The white team defensive line, on the other hand, recorded two combined tackles for loss, but had two sacks (one for Matt Roth and Jarontay Jones apiece). The white team defense as a whole recorded seven tackles for loss and three sacks. The white team defense also recorded all three interceptions, while the orange team didn’t pick off any balls. That’s not to say that the orange team defense was ineffective by any means. The defense held the white team offense in check for the entire scrimmage, but the defense as a whole didn’t really make enough big plays.
- Logan Thomas had this to say after the game about his performance, “All of y’all are gonna say I had a bad day but I couldn’t be happier with the way I threw the ball. I hit my spots.” Technically Logan was more sound than he was last year, but mentally the decision making still leaves a lot to be desired. I don’t completely disagree with Thomas, but I don’t completely agree either.
- Tariq Edwards is looking back to his old form, which is great news. He looked fluid in his movements, made some nice reads, and blew up a screen in a big way today. It’s nice to see him back and looking healthy.
- Interesting to note about Thomas – he didn’t play at all in the third quarter, and didn’t come in until about five minutes were remaining in the fourth quarter. I’m still not sure if that was Loeffler trying to send a message to Thomas or whether he wanted to see more of Leal. Perhaps it was both?
- Defensive back Desmond Frye left the game with a knee contusion today. He should be fine moving forward.
- Der’Woun Greene, Donovan Riley, and T.J. Shaw were the players to pick off Thomas today. Greene took his interception back 98 yards, Riley took his back 53 yards, and Shaw was knocked down almost immediately after picking off Thomas. An interesting note about T.J. Shaw, he is the practice quarterback that Virginia Tech uses when preparing for Georgia Tech because of his history running the triple option in high school. Shaw also recorded a sack on Logan Thomas today in the fourth quarter as well.
- Kris Harley forced a fumble today for a safety, which was the orange team’s only other score. In total, both defenses outscored both offenses 16-7.
- Another worrisome stat, both teams combined for a dreadful 3-23 on third-down conversions. That will definitely need to be improved moving forward.
That’s what I gathered during the game. All in all I think a lot of fans are going to be pretty disappointed with the results of this year’s spring game. I would tell those fans to hold their horses (on a treadmill), and to give the new offensive coaches time to right the ship. There’s a lot of work left to be done, but don’t go into panic mode yet. Have some faith, Hokie Nation. It’s still way too early to pass judgment one way or another on this team as a whole. Frank Beamer said it best today, it’s not how the team looks today, but rather how they look on August 31st against Alabama. I agree, Frank.