Virginia Tech Football: Report Card Grades for the Hokies Against Marshall
Virginia Tech will leave the month of September unscathed for the first time since 2006. That is, as far as their record in concerned. The Hokies have had a couple of injuries to their receiving corps, but a deep group has allowed them to get by to this point.
This year's non-conference schedule wasn't exactly impressive, but it did set up nicely for the coaching staff to break-in their young quarterback.
Against Marshall, the Hokies did some good things, but it's obvious they still have some things to work on before hosting Clemson next week.
Here are the Hokies' Week 4 grades against the Thundering Herd.
The good news for the Hokies is that quarterback Logan Thomas is getting better each week. He looks much more comfortable in the pocket and doesn't seem to panic when the play begins to break down.
The past two weeks, he's completed almost 65 percent of his passes for 521 yards, two touchdowns and three interceptions. He still throws a few passes that leave you questioning what he could have been looking at, but it's far better than what we were seeing in Week 1.
Thomas has the biggest game of his career coming up next Saturday against Clemson, and he will need to build off his last two performances in order to lead the Hokies to victory.
David Wilson continues to impress, although he did fumble for the second time this season, and Josh Oglesby continues to be a viable backup.
The two combined to rush for 207 yards and three touchdowns against the Thundering Herd, and the running backs caught three balls out of the backfield as well.
The success of these two backs is critical for the Hokies' success moving forward, and they will have to continue their impressive season in order for Virginia Tech to keep winning games.
The receiving corps has had to undergo a minor transformation, as Dyrell Roberts is out for the season and Jarrett Boykin is battling a hamstring injury.
However, Danny Coale has stepped up his game. In Week 4, he tied his career high with seven catches, which he set in Week 3, that went for 107 yards.
D.J. Coles also played well with eight catches for 66 yards. If these two guys can continue to play at a high level, the Hokies' offense should be fine moving forward. That being said, they'd love to have Boykin back for Week 5 when Clemson comes rolling into town.
The offensive line continues their strong play. Thomas' ability to throw the ball more consistently has forced defenses to play the Hokies more honest, meaning it's become easier for this group to run block.
The run blocking will have to continue to be stellar, as the defenses the Hokies will face are much stronger. That also means it's likely that Thomas is going to struggle in the next two games against Clemson and Miami.
If the Hokies offensive line can win the battle up front, it should take some of the pressure off Thomas, especially if Wilson and Oglesby get going on the ground.
The defensive line continues to dominate. The Hopkins brothers, James Gayle and J.R. Collins, have proven to be a formidable group. The Thundering Herd were everything but in Week 4, having rushed for only six yards.
A solid defensive line takes a lot of the pressure off the rest of the defense, which has also been very good.
If the Hokies keep winning the battle up front, it's going to be hard for any offense to score a lot of points against this defense.
Nothing new with the linebacking corps in Week 4; they're still dominating every offense they play. Led by Bruce Taylor, this group has capitalized off of the defensive line's ability to dominate the offensive front.
Taylor added another sack to his resume, and the play of Jeron Gouveia-Winslow and Tariq Edwards has been strong all season. Also, this unit has been without mike linebacker Barquell Rivers for the most part. He is still struggling with the injury he suffered last season, but if he can get back to full strength, this unit will be one of the best in the country.
One thing that does need to improve from this group is pass coverage. There are still too many open receivers running open across the middle, which in turn, opens up the defense to allow the big play down the field.
The secondary didn't play bad in Week 4, but they've played better. Marshall had 245 yards through the air, but it's the number of big plays the secondary is giving up that causes room for concern.
There were two plays that went for 30 yards or more. It looks the offense is going to struggle to put up points against tougher defenses, which means that the Hokies' defense will have to step up their game even further.
Big plays have been given up by the secondary this year, and that could be the difference against an opponent like Clemson or Miami.
The special teams continue to struggle. Cody Journell missed another field goal and he's only hit four out of his seven attempts this season. For a scholarship kicker, Journell has not been as advertised.
The Hokies also had an extra point attempt blocked yesterday that was nearly returned for two points.
To add to the misery this group continues to go through, Danny Coale made his debut at punter after the coaching staff had seen enough from starting punter Scott Demler.
Beamer Ball has been far from good in 2011. This unit used to win this team games, but for now, it looks like it could cost them a game or two moving forward.
Now that the non-conference schedule is done, look for the playcalling to become a little more aggressive in Week 5. The Hokies have had a soft schedule thus far, which has been good for the development of a young quarterback.
But now that the stepping stones are out of the way, it's time for the Hokies to get down to business. Bud Foster's group has been the best so far this season, and that's unlikely to change moving forward.
Frank Beamer has to get his special teams on the right track. For right now, this has been the worst group.
Shane Beamer has done a nice job with the running backs, and Mike O'Cain has done an okay job with playcalling thus far. Overall, the coaches had a solid game in Week 4, but there's still plenty of room to grow.
This team has a lot of talent, but they have to find ways to put it together. David Wilson is one of the fastest guys in college football and has shown great instincts and unbelievable athleticism. He's the offensive catalyst for the Hokies.
Logan Thomas has incredible size and strength and looks like a bulldozer when he makes contact with any defensive player in his way. In order for the Hokies to achieve great success this year, Thomas will have to turn his potential into a reality.
Defensively, the Hokies have a lot of guys with great instincts, but sometimes it gets them in trouble, especially in the secondary. This team needs to continue taking chances on offense and defense, but they need to show a certain level of discipline as well. If they're able to make the two work together, they will continue to win games.
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