Virginia Tech Football: Winners and Losers from Week 7 Game vs. Duke

Bryan ManningFeatured ColumnistOctober 14, 2012

Virginia Tech Football: Winners and Losers from Week 7 Game vs. Duke

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    It took seven weeks, but the Virginia Tech Hokies finally put together a complete game with a 41-20 defeat of Duke in Blacksburg on Saturday.

    The Hokies finished the game with 41 unanswered points after Duke got out to a 20-0 first quarter lead. 

    It was a dominant performance on the offensive side of the ball for the Hokies as they rushed for 269 yards and threw for 256 yards. The 525 total yards is a season high for the Hokies.

    The defense played well, too. Duke only scored one touchdown against the Hokies and that was early in the first quarter. 

    The most important element in this game for the Hokies was showing mental toughness in coming back from an early deficit.

    Is this the start of something good for the Hokies or was it just a matter of the Hokies having much more talent than the Blue Devils? 

    Here is a look at the winners and losers from this week's game. 

Winner: J.C. Coleman

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    Was Saturday the coming out party for freshman running back J.C. Coleman?

    Coleman ran for 183 yards on just 13 carries and two touchdowns. His 86-yard touchdown run was a thing of beauty and, once he got through the first level of the defense, displayed his amazing speed. 

    Coleman had been sharing the load with fellow freshman Michael Holmes. Curiously, Holmes only received two carries on Saturday as Tony Gregory, who missed the last two games with an injury, was second among the running backs with eight carries.

    Coleman's play-making ability gives the Hokies' offense another element to defend. For a true freshman, he has excellent vision, always seems decisive when receiving the ball and makes the right cuts. 

Winner: Marcus Davis

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    Marcus Davis' 40-yard catch in the first quarter set up the Hokies' first touchdown. He was just three yards shy from having three touchdowns on the day, as he finished with five receptions for 144 yards and the two touchdowns.  

    Davis has struggled with consistency at times because he often looks to run before he catches the ball. He had three drops against North Carolina last week and still made several plays. Quarterback Logan Thomas needs to continue getting the ball down the field to Davis. 

    Davis presents a tough mismatch for any college defensive back. He showed Saturday he will win jump balls every time.

    Davis looks well on his way to becoming the first receiver in Virginia Tech history with 1,000 yards receiving in a season. 

    With five regular season games to go, Davis needs 378 yards to break the single-season record of 962 yards set by Andre Davis in 1999. 

Winner: Logan Thomas

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    The past two weeks, Logan Thomas has had his best games this season. This is an encouraging sign for the Hokies.

    His only interception on Saturday was running back Tony Gregory's fault, as he bobbled a screen pass that was returned for a touchdown.

    Thomas was 14-for-23 with 256 yards and two touchdowns on Saturday. He also rushed for 64 yards on 11 carries. 

    As the Hokies prepare to face Clemson next week, having Thomas come off his best performance should give this offense a boost. They struggled offensively against the Tigers in both games last year. 

    While Thomas did miss a few throws, he looks much more comfortable throwing to the middle of the field than he did earlier in the season. Getting the tight ends involved will help the Hokies moving forward. 

Winner: Defensive Line

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    Entering Saturday's game, the Hokies had eight sacks in the first six games. They had five sacks on Saturday, all from the defensive line.

    Much of the defensive problems this season have been due to the struggling front four. They were repeatedly beaten off the ball. The Hokies rarely lost one-on-one matchups against Duke on Saturday.

    Defensive tackle Luther Maddy finally seems to be healthy again. Maddy had two sacks and forced a fumble.

    James Gayle looked like the player everyone expected him to be finishing with nine tackles, two-and-a-half tackles for loss and one sack. Gayle was in the backfield often. 

    If the Hokies' defensive line continues to play like this, they will have a chance against the likes of Clemson and Florida State. 

Loser: Andrew Miller

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    Junior center Andrew Miller didn't make this list because of his play, only for his unfortunate luck.

    In what was largely a good day for the Virginia Tech offensive line, Miller was lost for the season with a broken fibula and torn ligaments in his ankle. 

    Miller had been rotating at center in previous weeks with Caleb Farris, but he, too, is currently injured. Michael Via, who has played extensively at both guard spots this season, will start at center next week if Farris cannot return.