The Hokies improved in a lot of areas today, playing their most impressive and complete game of the 2012 campaign by beating Bowling Green 37-0 at Lane Stadium. The offense again got off to a shaky start, picking up exactly where they left off courtesy of zero protection from the offensive line, bad snaps, errant passes and more wide receiver screens than people at UVA's Spring Game. I know that point doesn't really hit home, but there were really a lot of screens.
Logan Thomas was again high with many of his passes. He was under pressure most of the day, but there was a period during the middle of the game where he was pretty well protected. Thomas went 11-for-26 for 144 yards, 2 touchdowns and a pick. Fans around me kept complaining about him losing confidence in his throws, but I don't necessarily think it's that. It's a confluence of things, including poor offensive line play, bad play-calling, our total reliance on Thomas and the pressure that comes with that, as well as having to work with new receivers. But it also could be Thomas' mechanics and footwork. Whatever it is, we've established that there is a problem and it needs to be fixed...now. He was WAY off with a lot of his throws, maybe even more so than in the last couple of weeks.
Although it wasn't always pretty, once Thomas found Dyrell Roberts on a deep ball for a touchdown, he got in a groove both through the air on the ground. I think they need to throw that ball more to Roberts. Roberts is faster than Davis, so he can blow by his defender on a streak, and unlike the David Clowney and Marcus Vick connection, Thomas is unlikely to ever underthrow that route. Thomas also struggled early with the zone read, keeping it too often and in situations where it would've been better to give it up. He's done that often this year, and I think it stems again from asking him to or thinking he has to do too much. But as was said on Twitter, he did better later in the game with that, probably the best he's done all year.
The important thing offensively? We ran the football, and well. Four rushers had at least 45 yards (although none came close to the 100-yard mark). That seems to be the way this offense will operate this season, as the younger Beamer has said they will go with the hot hand. Tony Gregory got the most work today, and for the first time, did some things that gave credence to him being a legitimate running back, not just a guy who can run sweeps and cut all over the place against teams that over-pursue. Gregory posted 69 yards on 11 carries. Thomas followed that with 65 yards on 15 carries and a TD. Michael Holmes looked good as well, picking up 51 yards on only 4 carries and a TD. J.C. Coleman also had some nice runs, but reaffirmed running to the outside as his only dimension as well, picking up 45 yards on four carries. He also had a pass reception for 10 yards and a touchdown that got the Hokies on the board 7-0 early in the second quarter. Martin Scales also got a touchdown in this one, gaining 15 yards on 3 carries.
In the passing game, it was mostly Dyrell Roberts' 42-yard touchdown catch that put the Hokies up 14-0 midway through the second that accounted for all but 102 of the Thomas' passing yards. I would go down the list individually, but it was mostly statistically irrelevant. Roberts led the team with 3 receptions for 63 yards and the aforementioned touchdown.
The Hokies third touchdown of the game came with just over a minute left in the first half, when after making a marvelous near-touchdown run, Logan Thomas punched the ball in from the 1-yard line on the very next play to give the Hokies a 21-0 halftime advantage.
In the third quarter, Tech scored on a 2-yard Michael Holmes run that featured perhaps the best blocking on any run play all season long, putting Tech up 27-0. Cody Journell missed the PAT after a penalty pushed the Hokies back. Journell added a 35-yard field goal just over a minute into the fourth quarter to push the margin to 30-0, before Martin Scales provided the final margin with his 4-yard rush just four minutes later.
Of the four criteria I predicted would help to determine the result of the game, I think I went 50/50 again.
I was right about the rushing yardage, as the Hokies accumulated 246 yards on the ground, besting the 187 yards the Hokies put up against Austin Peay for their best total of the season. I was also right about the Bowling Green time of possession. Surprisingly, the Hokies had lost the possession battle in every game so far by a significant margin, something usually associated with the program as one of its hallmarks. But a lackluster running game had limited the Hokies in that department so far, dictating them to pass more. In the past, the Hokies have not had success in those situations. So limiting Bowling Green in that department was vital. Today they won by by a sizable margin, over 32 minutes to under 28 minutes for Bowling Green. That's progress.
As for the two incorrect predictions, Thomas was as erratic as he has been all season, perhaps even more so, but yet it didn't truly play a big part in the game. Likewise, Bowling Green didn't turn the ball over often, as their only turnover came via a Matt Schliz interception in which Antone Exum did a terrific job to turn around just at the right time to see the ball drop into his hands. The Hokies also turned the ball over once on a Thomas interception on an out/hitch route (haven't seen the tape yet, so I won't know which until I do. Feel free to correct me in the comments) which was thrown to the right spot, just defended very well, and required a tremendous effort to hold onto the ball by the defender when Marcus Davis did his best to rip it out and knock the guy to the ground. It was simply a throw Thomas made without really analyzing the situation, just expecting Davis to be open (like the pick against Pitt last week intended for Knowles...probably). That's a ball he should've never thrown.
For Tech, it was their first shutout since
Sept. 25, 2010 at Boston College UVA last Nov. 26. The Falcons had several opportunities to score, but instead opted to go for it on 4th down three times deep into their drives (going 0-for-3) and were 0-for-2 in the red zone. I guess there's no point in kicking field goals when you're getting beat that soundly (at least according to the scoreboard). But then again, nobody wants to get the goose egg. So my 30-17 prediction wasn't too far off considering the way the game was played and the chances the Falcons had, as it didn't really seem like a 37-0 Tech beatdown.
The positives of this game were that the Tech defense looked much better, although they missed a TON of tackles again. They have to be coached up by Bud on not arm-tackling or completely whiffing on tackles. He should light a fire under their asses their 133 rushing and all of their big gainers except one maybe came after contact. Also, the running backs looked exceptional, and the offensive line generally did a good job of opening up holes for them, the best so far this season. Thomas was off again, but he did some nice things on the ground for the first time since early in the Georgia Tech game. We even used the OPTION TWICE, and found success both times. Why we EVER decided to go away from that on offense absolutely befuddles me, as five of our last seven quarterbacks were very good or at least proficient at running it. BRING IT BACK! IT WORKS!
If there's anything that has to continue to improve, it would be the absolutely piss-poor play-calling (SO many wide receiver screens), Thomas' accuracy and the consistency blocking on the offensive line. Like I said, sometimes it was sublime, others it was non-existent, especially in the passing game.
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