Friday, November 15, 2013

A Look Ahead: Virginia Tech vs. Maryland

By Justin Cates

Things finally came together on offense in the Hokies 42-24 upset win over the Miami Hurricanes.

After turning the ball over eight times in the previous two games, quarterback Logan Thomas was nearly flawless in Miami Gardens completing 25-of-31 passes for 366 yards and two touchdowns.

Thomas added another 42 yards on the ground, but for one of the few times this season he wasn't the Hokies' primary running threat.

Redshirt freshman Trey Edmunds exploded with 14 carries for 74 yards and four touchdowns while sophomore J.C. Coleman tallied 22 carries for 68 yards.

Tech also has two breakout receivers in Willie Byrn and Josh Stanford.

Byrn has impressed with his toughness and speed all season, but the light didn't fully come one for Stanford until the last two games.

Against Boston College Stanford finished with 171 yards and the 'Canes were burned for 107 including a magnificent tackle-breaking run on a 32-yard touchdown.

The Hokie offense presented a balanced attack that both exposed weaknesses in the Miami defense and showed what the Tech unit is capable of when not turning the ball over. The trick is maintaining the momentum.

It won't be easy with major questions surrounding Tech's already shaky kicking game.

Kicker Cody Journell was dismissed from the team this week ending his bizarre four and a half year odyssey of occasional on field brilliance and off field stupidity.

That leaves the Hokies (7-3, 4-2 ACC) with no kickers on the roster who have made a field goal in a college game. Ethan Keyserling kicked against Marshall earlier this season but missed three kicks in the rain.

He'll likely get the start but Michael Branthover, Mitchell Ludwig and freshman walk-on Eric Kristensen all got a look in practice this week.

Senior day in Blacksburg will see Tech's senior corners on the sidelines as both Kyle Fuller (groin) and Antone Exum (ankle) won't dress Saturday.

Thankfully for the Hokies, corner is the deepest spot on the team and freshmen Kendall Fuller and Brandon Facyson will start in their places.

They will face a Maryland (5-4, 1-4 ACC) team that has hit a major wall in the second half of this season.

After starting 4-0, the Terrapins have dropped four of the last five with only a one point win over Virginia in that span.

Talented quarterback R.J. Brown just hasn't been the same since suffering a concussion in a 63-0 loss at Florida State, but there aren't many healthy bodies to throw to right now.

Five wide receivers are out for this game including leading receivers Stefon Diggs and Deon Long.

That makes it tempting to lean on the running game and tailback Brandon Ross, but it's a tall order against a Tech run defense currently ranked fourth in the nation.

The Hokies have to win out if they want a chance to make it to the ACC Championship game in Charlotte. They need help too, but a loss to Maryland or Virginia will spell disaster.

An early season match up between these two teams would have looked a lot different. A healthy Maryland offense would have presented an interesting challenge for the Hokies.

As it stands now, it should be a happy senior day in Lane Stadium.

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