Virginia Tech Football: Winners and Losers from Week 4 vs. Bowling Green
After another slow start on Saturday, the Virginia Tech Hokies got going midway through second quarter and never looked back in defeating the Bowling Green Falcons 37-0 in Blacksburg.
Fortunately for the Hokies, for the first time this season, they had a strong running game. The Hokies ran for 246 yards on 43 carries with three rushing touchdowns.
Four different players accounted for at least 45 rushing yards each.
And what about that defense?
Bud Foster’s group was beaten and embarrassed in Pittsburgh last week but rebounded Saturday with a stellar performance in limiting Bowling Green to 266 total yards.
In last week’s column, there were more losers than winners. But what about this week?
Here are the winners and losers from Virginia Tech’s win Saturday:
Winners: Running Backs
In rushing for 246 yards on 43 carries on Sunday, the Hokies finally broke out of their early-season slump running the football.
The Hokies averaged 5.7 yards per carry and accounted for three touchdowns on the ground.
Four different players ran for at least 45 yards apiece. Junior Tony Gregory led the way with 68 yards on 15 carries and seems to finally trust his knee.
Michael Holmes, who was leading the team in carries through three weeks, only had four carries Saturday, but for a total of 51 yards including a touchdown. He ran with a decisiveness we hadn't yet seen this season.
The Hokies schemed more outside runs taking advantage of the speed of their different backs.
J.C. Coleman had 45 yards on four carries and scored his first career touchdown on a 10-yard reception from Thomas.
The Hokies were the dominant unit on Saturday that everyone expected them to be. They held the Falcons to 266 total yards and the two Bowling Green quarterback's combined to go 14-of-42 for only 133 yards.
Bowling Green did finish with 133 yards, but the majority of that came on one long play when the game was already decided.
Getting Kyle Fuller back clearly gave this unit a boost. The secondary can be very good, it just isn't very deep and cannot afford injuries to any of the starters.
The Hokies were beaten up front last week consistently. In Saturday's game, Bowling Green couldn't keep the Hokies front seven out of their backfield.
If this group can stay reasonably healthy, we can expect more performances like this week. They aren't going to hold Clemson and Florida State scoreless, however their defense will play well enough to keep the game close.
Winners: Young Players
One great thing about winning a game so decisively is younger players get an opportunity to play extensively.
This year, more than most, the Hokies have had to rely on several true freshmen for depth. When kickoff specialist Brooks Abbott debuted yesterday, he became the eighth first-year play to play for the Hokies this season.
On defense, Michael Cole and Ronny Vandyke continue to see plenty of action
Coaches have gradually given these two more playing time over the last few weeks. Vandyke looks as if he could become the next great Hokie linebacker.
Freshman Desmond Frye saw extensive action in the defensive backfield and performed well. Players like Cole, Frye, Donaldven Manning and Davion Tookes will continue to see action as Bud Foster looks to build depth in the secondary.
Winners: Offensive Line
Granted, this group wasn't stellar in Saturday's win, but it was their best performance of the season. Bowling Green isn't exactly a good measuring stick for this unit but they did take a step in the right direction.
Left guard David Wang missed the game due to an ankle injury he suffered last week. Matt Arkema started in his place. MIchael Via started at right guard and rotated with Brent Benedict as has been the case for the first three weeks. Via also played some left guard with Benedict manning the right side at times.
Something to keep an eye is the center position. Heading into the season, junior Andrew Miller looked to be the bright spot on this offensive line. For the third week in a row, Caleb Farris took some of Miller's snaps.
While two of the three games were blowouts, Farris actually playing early in the games is something that bears watching. No one is sure yet if Miller is splitting time with Farris because of an injury, but we will get to the bottom of that.
This unit still needs to play consistently. But for once, let's give them credit. They dominated an opponent that they should have.
Can they carry this momentum into next week against Cincinnati?
Losers: Wide Receivers
Bowling Green entered the game ranked 95th nationally in total pass defense. Logan Thomas finished the game 11-of-26 for 144 yards with two touchdowns and one interception.
At first glance, Thomas's numbers seem pedestrian. And they are. But, this week his accuracy wasn't as much at fault as the wide receivers running the wrong routes.
Dyrell Roberts and Marcus Davis, both seniors, had moments where Thomas threw the ball one place while the receivers went elsewhere.
The Hokies left several big plays on the field Saturday and cannot continue to do that. Thomas has been largely at fault through the first three weeks but the receivers let him down at times against Bowling Green.
Constant miscommunication can't continue to plague a team four games into the season.
These players aren't freshmen. Davis, and fellow senior, Corey Fuller, have been outstanding for the most part this season, but they have a smaller margin for error because of the overall struggles on offense.
Thomas isn't being let off the hook, but his struggles haven't entirely been all his fault.
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