Virginia Tech Football: 5 Startling Statistics from Hokies' 2013 Campaign
With Saturday's win over North Carolina, the Virginia Tech Hokies moved to 5-1 on the season. It was the Hokies' fifth straight win after a season-opening loss to No. 1 Alabama.
Predictably, the Hokies relied heavily on their defense and senior quarterback Logan Thomas. Thomas passed for 293 yards and three touchdowns. It was the second straight game that Thomas did not turn the ball over.
In what continues to be a recurring theme, Tech was unable to run the ball. The Hokies' lack of success running the ball is a concern.
The running game is just one area where the team is struggling. But several things have stood out for VT so far this season. The defense, as predicted, is terrific. What other statistics are startling in what is shaping up to be a good bounce-back season for the Hokies?
Here are the five most startling statistics for Virginia Tech through six weeks of the 2013 season.
Logan Thomas' Stat Line vs. Alabama
In the Hokies' loss to Alabama, Logan Thomas completed five of 26 passes for 59 yards and one interception. It was one of the ugliest stat lines in recent memory.
Yes, Alabama has a tremendous defense, but Thomas' struggles had more to do with his receivers repeatedly dropping passes than Bama forcing him into bad decisions.
Since that game, Thomas has completed 98 of 161 passes for 1,153 yards. His completion percentage for the season is now 55 percent, a surprising number considering he was under 20 percent after the first game.
Brandon Facyson's Four Interceptions
Entering the season, we knew true freshman Kendall Fuller would play a lot at cornerback. One of the top recruits in the country, Fuller would also be filling in for injured starter Antone Exum early in the season.
What Virginia Tech didn't expect, though, was the rapid emergence of fellow freshman Brandon Facyson.
Facyson, also a true freshman, enrolled in January and impressed coaches with his performance in the spring.
Through six games, Facyson has four interceptions. He's not just in the right place at the right time, either. Facyson is always around the ball. And at 6'2", he has prototypical size for today's cornerbacks.
With opposing offenses smartly staying away from Kyle Fuller, Kendall's older brother, expect Facyson to continue to get opportunities. He could have a chance at tying or breaking the school's single-season interception record, which currently sits at nine.
Misses in the Kicking Game
Virginia Tech's kicking game figured to be in good hands in 2013.
Senior Cody Journell returned for his third season as the Hokies' kicker. A former All-ACC selection, Journell had made 81 percent of his kicks entering this season and had never missed more than one in a game.
In five games played by Journell this season, he is just 3-of-6 on field-goal attempts. Journell has also missed two point-after attempts. In the one game he missed, Ethan Keyserling, the kicker who replaced him, missed all three of his attempts.
So, through six weeks, the Hokies are connecting on just 33 percent of their field goals. Sadly, an extra point is not even a given for this team.
Can Journell turn it around and resemble the kicker he was prior to 2013? The bigger question is if Beamer can stay with him if he continues to struggle.
Running Game Numbers
Virginia Tech's running game got off to a rousing start in the season opener when freshman Trey Edmunds ran for a 77-yard touchdown against Alabama.
He finished the game with 132 yards, and it was Tech's only highlight on offense in that game.
That has essentially been it for the Hokies running the football.
Since the Alabama game, Edmunds has run the ball 78 times for 264 yards. That is an average of just 3.3 yards per carry. Mind you, the Hokies haven't faced the likes of Alabama since Week 1.
For the season, VT has run the ball 215 times for 747 yards. As a team, the Hokies average 3.5 yards per carry. It is important to note that East Carolina, Marshall and Georgia Tech all do well against the run. However, part of that success is due to facing the Hokies.
North Carolina was a sieve on defense entering last week's game, yet it held the Hokies to 48 rushing yards on 34 attempts.
This offensive line must get better if the Hokies want to challenge for an ACC title.
Overall Defensive Numbers
Through six games, Virginia Tech ranks No. 5 nationally in total defense. That is not surprising. The Hokies generally fare well on the defensive side of the ball.
What is most surprising about Tech's dominant defense is how strong it is in all facets.
The Hokies, along with Clemson and Fresno State, are tied for the national lead with 19 sacks. Bud Foster's group has forced 16 turnovers, good for 13th in the nation. They have 13 interceptions, which leads the country.
Not only do they get the ball back for their offense, but they bail them out, too. They are No. 15 in rushing defense, allowing 102 yards per game. For Foster, that is an unacceptable total.
Against the pass, VT ranks No. 8 in pass efficiency defense and gives up only 161 yards through the air per week.
2013 could be a record-breaking year the Virginia Tech defense. If the Hokies expect to win the ACC, they must continue at this pace.