Color me impressed by the Virginia Tech Hokies as of late. The Georgia Tech game saw the offense starting to find a rhythm, and the UNC game only continued that trend. The Hokies scored three offensive touchdowns in the first half for the first time this season. Yes, they didn't even muster that against Western Carolina. And while it does appear that Virginia Tech stalled out in the third quarter, they managed to finish the game with a scoring drive in the fourth quarter. That is nothing but encouraging.
And we mustn't forget about the big man, Logan Thomas. Thomas is really coming into his own over the past two weeks despite being banged up with a foot and ab strain. Thomas completed 19 of 28 passes for 293 yards and three touchdowns with no interceptions against the Tar Heels. While his completion percentage wasn't off the charts - only 68 percent - he was more than efficient when it mattered. He seems to have finally found a rapport with his receivers, including Willie Byrn, who hauled in an 83-yard reception, and DJ Coles, who caught two touchdown passes in the first half.
Sidebar - that 83-yard pass to Byrn, I need to talk about it. It takes some major balls (relatively speaking) to call a shotgun pass when backed up deep in your own endzone. This is clearly not the hyper-conservative offense that we used to see under O'Cain. Scot Loeffler is not afraid to take some shots downfield and get creative with his playcalling. It's extremely refreshing to see, and I no longer loathe watching the Hokies on offense.
The defense, once again, was outstanding. Kyshoen Jarrett and Kyle Fuller both picked off passes, and the whole unit held UNC in check for the majority of the game. They got noticeably lax with less than two minutes to play when the game was realistically out of hand, and gave up a touchdown pass. Obviously I'm not happy to see that margin of victory go down by seven, because winning by 17 looks much more impressive than winning by 10. However, I'm not going to give the group too hard of a time because of it. I'm sure Bud Foster already did that enough for the entire staff.
At 5-1 on the season with momentum seemingly on their side, I would expect to see this offensive growth continue heading into this weekend's game against the Pittsburgh Panthers.
The defense continued to play strongly, save parts of the fourth quarter. The more I think about that tailing off late in the game, the more I think back to how the offense's short possessions certainly hindered the defense's ability to get adequate rest on the sideline. I think by the time the fourth quarter of playing in the warm sun against a versatile quarterback rolled around, they were gassed. Brandon Facyson and Kendall Fuller are incredible as true freshman and the defensive line across the board has been dominant. From one game to another, there is always one guy that can step up and really dominate a game. Against UNC, I thought that guy was Luther Maddy. He was in the backfield on numerous plays, disrupting running routes (I can think of a reverse in particular), putting pressure on Williams and he was rewarded with a sack. Oh, and we're getting ready to add All-Everything Antone Exum back to the mix? Neat.
Chris Hatcher (aka chicagomaroon)
I've pretty much covered all the bases with my post game rant from Saturday, but after reading these two great responses (Casey and Ty) and dedicating some thought to the matter, I've backed off my stance of disgust somewhat. After all, the Hokies are 5-1, and winning is what counts, right? Did they look bad in the second half while doing it? You bet your ass they did. But until they actually lose, perhaps I should table the rhetoric and just accept it at face value
Casey's right, 5-1 at this point would seem a blessing in the pre-season, particularly considering the spate of injuries, transfers, etc. the team suffered prior to the start of the season. And who would've thought that minus Exum, the Hokies would have been able to navigate the waters to 5-1 halfway through the regular season? Not me and not anyone that I know. Kendall Fuller and Brandon Facyson have been so tremendous as freshmen they have made Exum's absence into a non-story, which is saying a lot.