The Hokies beat the Austin Peay Governors Saturday afternoon in Blacksburg 42-7 behind a good defensive performance and a lackluster performance on the offensive side of the ball (Déjà vu anyone?). Logan Thomas had an off-and-on day, sometimes struggling with the wet and windy conditions around Lane Stadium during the second and third quarters.
For highlights of the game and analysis of what the Hokies did well and not so well, continue reading after the jump.
The first half was brutal to watch; J.C. Coleman fumbled on the first play from scrimmage, O'Cainspring (Mike O'Cain and Bryan Stinespring) called eighteen-million wide receiver screens and 6'6" 260 quarterback Logan Thomas was once again stopped on a 4th-and-1 play after converting nearly 95% of those chances a year ago.
The Hokies again looked out of sync, generating almost no push up front against a team that was picked last in (I'm not going to bother to even look their conference up to make a point) whatever conference they play in. The truth is I don't know. The Hokies only gained 59 yards in the first quarter, and the 21-0 halftime score didn't truly reflect how woeful the Hokies played offensively for the better part of the first half.
At the very end of the first half the Hokies started getting some traction, led by Logan Thomas, who got into a rhythm, leading the offense down the field to two consecutive scores. His 30-yard touchdown pass to Corey Fuller was probably the best play of the game. Thomas zipped the ball over the linebacker's head right into the hands of Fuller, who was lucky to catch the ball, as he appeared surprised the ball made it there. He then turned, avoided a tackle and got in for the score.
Defensively, the Hokies looked pretty good in the first half, limiting Austin Peay to 24 first quarter yards and 95 first half yards, despite several QUESTIONABLE (ahem) penalties that kept the Governors alive on the drives where they gained the most yards.
The defense slumped in the second half, surrendering 126 of the 221 total yards the Governors gained, including the only touchdown. Most of this damage came before the Hokies started subbing out guys, so this is on the starting defense (or de facto starting defense without several key players). Again, the Governors were aided by key penalties, but, it was still disconcerting that from an effort standpoint, the defense just gave up. The Governors didn't necessarily gain a lot of yardage, but they picked a lot of it up in big chunks in the third quarter. Granted they are tired for having played twice now in a week, but if that is the result of doing so, Weaver and Beamer need to wise up and start worrying about how their team plays, not what TV network will broadcast the game.
Also of concern, the defense only recorded a single sack. That won't cut it against good teams...and against Austin Peay (who it goes without saying is not one of those teams), that number should have been a lot greater for potentially the second-most hyped defensive line in all of the country in the pre-season. The Hokies also allowed quarterback Jake Ryan, who completed two passes a week ago for 11 yards against Western Kentucky, to complete 8-of-21 passes for 62 yards. Still not stellar numbers on his part, but without his two picks, he looked decent against the Tech defense, who was probably lucky not to have given up more to him due to drops and timely hitting to jar balls loose by the Hokies.
Offensively, the Hokies stuttered out of the gate again in the second half, fumbling their first two snaps (which were ultimately recovered for huge losses). It wasn't until the Hokies used Marcus Davis on several end arounds that the offense got back into the swing of things. In fact, Tech's leading rusher on the day was Davis, with only 48 yards on two end arounds.
When the backups came in, most impressed. Let me rephrase that: When the backups came in, pretty much everyone who wasn't on the offensive or defensive line impressed. There we go. I feel much more comfortable with that one. Mark Leal was accurate. Josh Stanford caught his first career pass. Tony Gregory had a few nice runs to score his first career touchdown (I could've sworn he did it against Wake in 2010...but I guess not). Defensively, Dadi Nicolas, Matt Roth, Michael Cole, Desmond Frye, Ronny Vandkyke, Donovan Riley, Donaldven Manning and Deon Clarke all saw their action. Manning impressed, making his first career interception on an over-the-shoulder, sideline running catch.
Also, for the first time in a long time, I can report that the special teams had a good day as well. Tony Gregory blocked his second career punt. Kyshoen Jarrett impressed on his only real return of the game, going 46 yards and setting the Hokies up inside Austin Peay's 10-yard line for their first score of the game. Willie Byrn even had a nice return while relieving Jarrett. Hughes also had a few nice punts and didn't fumble any snaps! YAY FOR US!
In the end though, the lack of offense and our inability to keep the ball have to improve if this team has any realistic BCS bowl aspirations. So too does the playcalling that now has enough highlights (or lowlights) to do a stand-up comedy routine. Maybe Stiney missed his calling.
For the second game in a row, the Hokies were beaten by a sizable margin in the time of possession statistic, and for the second time the Hokies struggled on offense, but managed to win. That has to be a first for a Beamer coached team. If not, it's certainly a rarity.
With the win, the Hokies move to 2-0 (1-0) on the season. With the loss, the Governors fall to 0-2. The Hokies travel to Pittsburgh to face the reeling Panthers next Saturday at Heniz Field. For all the coverage leading up to that game, make sure to keep coming back to Gobbler Country.