Offense, special teams lacking as Virginia Tech falls to Alabama, 35-10

Kevin C. Cox

A punt return and kickoff return for a touchdown from Christion Jones were just the beginning of the miscues for Virginia Tech against No. 1 Alabama. Though the game finished at 35-10 , it doesn't mean it was all negative for the Hokies.

Alabama was in control from the start. Winning the coin toss, holding Virginia Tech to a three-and-out to set up Christion Jones' 72-yard punt return for a touchdown. Jones would later return a kick off 94 yards for a touchdown.

Though the final score wouldn't reflect this, Alabama wasn't dominant by any means. Virginia Tech's defense was incredibly strong all night, forcing several tackles for loss and playing strong at the point of attack. A key mismatch with Kyshoen Jarrett out of the game with a short-lived injury lead to Jones' third touchdown of the game, sealing the game for the Crimson Tide.

The Hokies head back from Alabama with a lot of questions on offense and special teams, but the defense will be just fine.

Here's a quick recap of the game, in case you missed our quarterly updates.

Virginia Tech got the ball to start the game and a lackluster three-and-out forced a punt from AJ Hughes. Hughes booted a decent punt, but Jones returned it 72 yards for a touchdown, putting Alabama up 7-0 before AJ McCarron even took the field. The Hokies moved the ball for a first down on the next possession, but had to punt again. The defense's first outing ended with a solid tackle-for-loss by Jack Tyler on 3 and 1 to force an Alabama punt.

Alabama's T.J. Yeldon scored the first offensive touchdown of the game for Alabama from three yards out after a 5-minute 49 yard drive to put Alabama up with 1:48 to play in the first quarter. After the ensuing kickoff, Trey Edmunds took the ball 77 yards from scrimmage for a touchdown to cut the lead in half.

The Hokies had cut the Crimson Tide lead to 7 and forced a punt at the start of the second quarter. After a short rush by Edmunds, DJ Coles let up on a route and Vinnie Sunseri cut in front of him to intercept the ball and return it 38 yards for a touchdown to give Alabama a 21-7 lead.

With Alabama driving mid-way through the first quarter, Kyle Fuller intercepted AJ McCarron to set the Hokies up at the Alabama 32. After a few decent plays to gain some yardage, the drive sputtered before Cody Journell punched through a 39-yard field goal. On the ensuing kickoff, Jones returned the kickoff 94 yards for a touchdown.

Virginia Tech's defense was strong in the first half, holding Alabama to under 97 yards of total offense.

Virginia Tech and Alabama swapped strong defensive performances for the majority of the third quarter. Jarrett left the game with cramping issues and forcing Desmond Frye into relief in the secondary. Jones blew by Frye and hauled in a 38-yard pass from McCarron to put Alabama up 35-10.

The Hokies sputtered on offense and couldn't  get much at all going throughout the game, sending the Crimson Tide back to Tuscaloosa with a 35-10 win.

Quick thoughts:

  • D.J. Coles was an absolute disappointment tonight. He is a large, large man at receiver. There's no reason for him to let up on a route because he see a safety that he outweighs by a lot coming towards him. He dropped several passes that a NCAA DI receiver should have absolutely caught.
  • Scratch that, it wasn't just Coles, the receiving corps as a whole is a big problem for the Hokies going forward. The pundits will look at Logan's 5/26 performance and think it was all him, but the receivers had to have dropped somewhere in the neighborhood of 10 passes.
  • Trey Edmunds was certainly a bright spot, and I don't just mean his 77-yard scamper. He showed quick decision making ability and racked up 132 yards against a very stout defense.
  • Alabama only sacked Logan Thomas once. Jeff Grimes, you'll do.
  • Jonathan McLaughlin played a pretty solid first game for the Hokies. I think he'll just be alright as a freshman.
  • There was a brief moment in this game where it looked like Virginia Tech might hang with Alabama. Then that window of opportunity closed pretty quickly on the ensuing kickoff that was returned 94 yards for a touchdown.
  • I honestly don't know what to make of Logan Thomas' performance. Sure, on paper it's atrocious. But as mentioned before the drops certainly didn't help and the fact that receivers didn't create much separation gave him little to throw to.
  • Maybe I'm reading too much into this game, but given how the Tech defense was very strong and borderline dominant at times against the top team in the nation, I think we'll be just fine against the ACC this year.
  • We gained more yards on offense than Alabama. What? The stats in this one would indicate a much closer game than the final scoreline did. Even on turnovers, only :45 difference in time of possession, and Tech holding Alabama to under 100 yards on the ground.
  • I'm sad.

Scoring plays

First quarter

13:21--Alabama--Christion Jones, 72 yds (punt return)

1:53--Alabama--T.J. Yeldon, 3 yds (run)

1:37--Virginia Tech--Trey Edmunds, 77 yds (run)

Second quarter

14:04--Alabama-- Logan Thomas pass intercepted by Vinnie Sunseri, 38 yds (interception)

3:39--Virginia Tech--Cody Journell, 39 yds (FG)

3:20--Alabama---Christion Jones, 94 yards (kick off return)

Third quarter

3:43--Alabama--Christion Jones, 38 yards (pass)

Stats

Virginia Tech Alabama
Total Yards 212 206
Passing Yards 59 110
Rushing Yards 153 96
Turnovers 1 1
Passing Leaders Logan Thomas--5/26, 59 yds, 0/1 INT AJ McCarron--7/14, 67 yds, 0/1 INT
Rushing Leaders Trey Edmunds--20, 132 yds, TD TJ Yeldon--17, 75, TD
3rd down conversion 3-17 6-17
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