Hokies defense bends, but doesn't break plus some more notes and quotes
While the Hokies may have won easily where it mattered -- on the scoreboard -- the statistics from Saturday's 45-21 win over Central Michigan tell a different story.
Virginia Tech was outgained, 401-394, by the Chippewas, ran 31 fewer plays, and lost the time of possession battle by more than 10 minutes. Some of that had to do with the Hokies offense getting three quick-strike scores, but this has also become a pattern for Bud Foster's defense this season.
Virginia Tech has been taking a bend don't break philosophy as it tries to overcome some of the deficiencies involved with having seven new starters on defense. The past four weeks the Hokies have given up an average of almost 380 yards per game, and yet have come away with four victories.
But who can blame them when it works the way it did against the Chippewas Saturday. After taking a 7-0 lead on its first drive of the game, Central Michigan had four separate drives inside Virginia Tech's 40-yard line but came away with zero points. The Chippewas two other touchdowns came late in the fourth quarter when the game was already decided.
"It’s working at the end of the day, but I’d like to not bend at all," said linebacker Bruce Taylor, who led the Hokies with 13 tackles. "I like that we don’t break, but I’d like to just get off the field and get the offense back on the field to score more points."
Some more notes from Saturday's win
*I wrote a bit about the offense's sporadic struggles in my game story, but I have a telling anecdote to share here. I ended up walking out of the press box at the same time as all of Virginia Tech's coaches that sit in the booth, including offensive coordinator Bryan Stinespring. Unfortunately I can't type what he said since it wasn't on the record and isn't really fit for print anyways, but let's just say he wasn't all that excited about the Hokies scoring only 45 points.
I can share this, though. Last week Stinespring joked to reporters that since some people thought a ninth-grader could call plays better than him, his 16-year-old son had called some of the plays to help the Hokies come back against North Carolina State.
So Saturday, before Virginia Tech began its postgame press conference, Stinespring walked through the interview room with his daughter in tow and without breaking stride said, "She called 'em today. She didn't do so hot."
So yes, I would say Stinespring isn't happy that the Hokies went 0-for-8 on third downs and punted the ball seven times against Central Michigan.
*A new game, and another early deficit for Virginia Tech to overcome. Luckily this time, Tyrod Taylor got the Hokies back on track quickly with that 72-yard touchdown run. Here's what Coach Frank Beamer had to say about falling into a first quarter hole yet again:
“I don’t like getting down, I don’t like that at all, but I don’t think anyone ever panics," said Beamer. "That’s a good thing. It’s not like screaming, hollering at each other. It’s ‘Let’s get on the same page here and get this thing going.’ You gotta like that about this football team. And I think the other thing is we got the ability to score quickly. It happened a couple times here today and that always give you hope too. You’re always a play away from a score."
*Speaking of big plays, running back David Wilson had another one today. I don't think he was even touched on that 67-yard touchdown run to start the fourth quarter, and once again, the sophomore wasn't bashful when speaking with the media.
"When I got past the corner, I saw the best thing any running back likes to see: green grass," he said.
*Back-up quarterback Logan Thomas finally saw some action in the fourth quarter, but unfortunately, he fumbled his first snap. Then, on his second drive, back-up running back Tony Gregory fumbled. Thomas finished the game 1-of-2 for three yards. Since he's likely the starting quarterback next year after Taylor graduates, you'd think the Hokies will look to get him some more action down the stretch. The only problem is that Virginia Tech can't seem to blow anybody out this year.
*It was a big day for wide receiver Jarrett Boykin, who had eight catches for 117 yards. He's a unique security blanket on offense with the way he can go up and seemingly catch almost anything in his vicinity, regardless of how well the pass is thrown.
Tight end Andre Smith also scored his third touchdown in two games. Afterwards, I asked him if he'd prefer if Virginia Tech's offense scored methodically or via the big play like it did Saturday. I liked the reasoning to his answer but it still surprised me.
"As an offense, it’s the quick pop, just because you’re doing stuff right," Smith said. "We talk about it all the time, everybody is on the same page, everybody did their own assignment because not one person messed up or did something wrong in the sense that that’s the reason the play scored. This whole season we’ve been just plays, steps, or seconds away from making huge plays like that all along.”
*That's all I got for now. Like I said four weeks ago immediately following the James Madison loss, I had a feeling the Hokies would rebound. They're now 4-2 and firmly in control of their own destiny. Will they win the ACC and get a berth in a BCS bowl game? Four games hasn't made that clear yet. But they're certainly in better position than a month ago. Here's what Beamer had to say about his team's turnaround.
"I think we’ve learned that we’ve got a tough minded football team," he said. "I don’t know how many teams would have started out 0-2 and had the losses that we had and come back and win four in a row. ... I think it says something about the make up of this team. I don’t think we’re a panic group. We’re not always pretty, but we’re just really interested in the end result. As long as we keep winning, that’s what makes the difference.”
| October 9, 2010; 6:16 PM ET
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