Wednesday, September 4, 2013

A Look Ahead: Virginia Tech vs. Western Carolina

By Justin Cates

Virginia Tech dropped its opener 35-10 to No. 1 Alabama which surprised no one, but most were taken aback by how that score came about.

The Tech defense largely overwhelmed the Crimson Tide, holding the offense to just 14 points. Quarterback A.J. McCarron was limited to 110 yards passing and the Tide managed just 206 total yards.

Everyone paying attention knew Tech would have a stout defense, but even I was surprised at just how dominant the line was and how good freshman corners Brandon Facyson and Kendall Fuller played.

The Hokies also managed to run the ball with 18-year-old redshirt freshman Trey Edmunds. He broke off a 77-yard touchdown for Tech's only real offensive highlight and finished with 132 yards on 20 carries.

Critics will point out the bulk of his yards came on that one carry so it's not as impressive as it looks, but that's like saying if you take away two special teams touchdowns and a pick six, the Tide only won by four.

So what does Virginia Tech need to accomplish against an outmatched Catamounts squad Saturday in Lane Stadium?

While the offensive line and running back situation are far more solid than anyone expected, the wide receivers have a long way to go.

They managed to squeeze just five passes against 'Bama and dropped between six and nine balls depending on how you classify a few borderline plays.

The receivers have to improve and simply make the plays they're capable of making this week. That's why first year receivers coach Aaron Moorehead has his guys working after practice with the JUGS machine, a device that launches footballs—in this case at 40 MPH.

This guy will play a big role the rest of the season.

I'd like to see the running backs get a bit more involved in the passing game as they continue to get more comfortable. It will help getting J.C. Coleman (ankle) back healthy and that may happen this week.

The tight ends need to step up as well. They did a good job in protection against Alabama but failed to catch any passes. It's clear that the loss of Ryan Malleck for the season will be a tough injury to overcome.

As for the quarterback, Logan Thomas needs to just keep doing what he's doing. I know, I know, he completed just 5 of 26 passes but factoring in the drops, the five throwaways under pressure and the fact he only took one sack when he missed a check-down near the end of the game it's very difficult to fault him for his play.

The Hokie receivers will look to improve against Western Carolina.

As offensive coordinator Scot Loeffler pointed out on the Tech call-in show Monday night, "There's times when the outside world's criticizing you, 'You didn't have this type of game,' when in actuality, I graded you out in a very positive manner." 

"There's times where he goes 18-for-21 and everyone is going to tell him he did a great job and I'm going to come in and say, 'You didn't play well at all.' ...There are things that are in your control and out of your control at the position."

Special teams will receive a personnel overhaul during practice this week to shore up the obvious deficiencies that were on display in the Georgia Dome.

Several veterans went to Frank Beamer during the week and volunteered to play on more units, among them Kyle Fuller and James Gayle. The kicking game looked good in the opener and hopefully more seasoned players on the coverage teams leads to a stronger unit. 

So the keys this week are to keep plugging along and get better. Not revolutionary, but that's all you can do. Staying healthy would be nice but unfortunately it's out of the team's control.

The best news is, you've already played the best there is. It won't get any tougher than the opener.

“There’s times when the outside world’s criticizing you, ‘You didn’t have this type of game,’ when in actuality, I graded you out in a very positive manner,” - See more at:
“There’s times when the outside world’s criticizing you, ‘You didn’t have this type of game,’ when in actuality, I graded you out in a very positive manner,” - See more at:

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