After so many teases of the new video board, after seeing it in action, it did not disappoint. The graphics, video and sound system were excellent. Of course, in the 3rd quarter, it decided to lock up and turn blue. There were chants of "Pay your bills!" as it took nearly all of the 3rd quarter for the video board to reboot. Other than that minor glitch though, it went smoothly, and should be entertaining fans for a while.
The much ballyhooed sellout streak came to an end, but did it truly matter? From my vintage point of view high up in the West stands, only the East and South stands were sparsely populated with fans, but it did not stop them from roaring. The North end zone, which is typically reserved for students, was filled to the brim, but it did thin out as the game went on in the 2nd half. The West stands were actually full. The sellout streak was often an exaggeration because according to some message boards, boosters would buy up the remaining tickets to sell the "sellout streak." The fans who showed up wanted to be there, and they made themselves heard. That's what truly matters.
On to the game...the offense took a while to get traction. The receivers caught some balls today, dropped a few, and Thomas threw two interceptions, both times targeting Demitri Knowles. Although Thomas threw the interceptions, he admitted he should have thrown toward the back pylon, which is a sign that he is progressing as a quarterback. D.J. Coles, after a subpar performance against Alabama, did not get in on a lot of action today. However, Coles caught a beautiful strike from Logan Thomas to register a touchdown.
The running backs had a phenomenal game. Trey Edmunds led the pack with two touchdowns and Chris Mangus tacked on another one. It was also the second time in two weeks a running back went over seventy-yards for a touchdown. It is clear that Trey Edmunds is the starting running back. The picture for the No. 2 spot is a bit murky. J.C. Coleman had a decent game after returning from double ankle sprains, and Joel Caleb saw some action in garbage time.
My favorite play of the day was a swing pass from Thomas to Sam Rogers who caught it, juked and punished the defenders around him, which helped set up Trey Edmunds' second touchdown of the day.
The defense played phenomenal as well. Detrick Bonner had an active day, snaring two interceptions and returned his first interception for touchdown. The defensive line shut down Western Carolina run-heavy spread offense. I did not see any glaring busted assignments today from any of the defensive personnel, and they did not allow the Catamounts to score a touchdown after Jarrett goofed on a punt return (more on that in a bit). As long as the secondary continues their ball-hawking approach, they should be active against ECU next Saturday.
The special teams performance was an improvement. A.J. Hughes had a booming punt that was downed at the 1-yard line, bringing the crowd to a roaring ovation. Jarrett, as mentioned, made a mistake by not getting out of the way after calling a fair catch, and the ball hit his foot. He also made some ill-advised decisions to field some punts instead of letting it roll away. However, there was a difference in performance with the veterans on special teams. While Western Carolina may not have the athletes to threaten Virginia Tech, it was an improvement.
Offense - Trey Edmunds
Defense - Detrick Bonner