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September 10, 2012
Final Grades: Austin Peay
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We've had a few days to digest Virginia Tech's 42-7 win over Austin Peay. It's easy to come up with thoughts after the game, but having seen replays and thought it over, here's publisher Jason Stamm's exam of the Hokies' win:
Junior Logan Thomas and the offense collectively struggled a bit in the early going, but Thomas himself was overall solid. Completing 15 of 23 passes for 212 yards are modest numbers, but he did what he needed to do to push Virginia Tech to the lead. Sophomore Mark Leal came in relief of Thomas just before the end of the third quarter, but with the game in hand, he mostly handed the ball off to the running backs. Leal completed all three of his passes, for 20 yards.
The day started out pretty rough with true freshman J.C. Coleman's fumble on the first play of the Hokies' first possession of the game. He rebounded after that for 29 yards. The depth showed through more than anything, as junior Tony Gregory even got in on the action with an 18-yard touchdown run in the fourth quarter. Coleman will pick it up, but Michael Holmes is still the guy here.
With Virginia Tech rushing for 187 yards while up big on the Governors, there wasn't a lot of need for plays through the air. Senior Dyrell Roberts showed some nifty moves though and senior Corey Fuller again got in on the action with a pair of catches for 44 yards and his first career touchdown. Tight end Randall Dunn also hauled in a 13-yard touchdown.
Part of the blame can go to Thomas, but much of it goes to the offensive line as Thomas was stopped on fourth down and one in the red zone in the first quarter. Coupled with Coleman's fumble, it had a lot to do with the early slow start. Thomas was also sacked twice, not a good sign against an mid-level FCS team. On a positive note, the line helped make room for the running backs to get 187 yards.
Tyrel Wilson got to Austin Peay quarterback Jake Ryan for a sack, but it was Virginia Tech's lone one of the day. The line also didn't look great in allowing 159 yards rushing for the Governors. Getting recently reinstated lineman Dadi Nicholas back is a positive sign, however.
Last week, defensive coordinator Bud Foster said junior Jack Tyler was the best player on the field when he collected 17 sacks against Georgia Tech. The numbers this time weren't as gaudy, but Tyler was still among the best on the field with a team-high eight tackles. Senior Bruce Taylor sat out the game as a precaution as he recovers still from the Lisfranc sprain in his right foot.
The Governors didn't get anything going through the air and much of it was due to the Hokies' defensive backs pressure. Ryan completed just 8 of 21 passes for 62 yards with Antone Exum and Detrick Bonner each getting credit for pass deflections. Junior Kyle Fuller also came up with a big interception as Austin Peay went for the end zone in the third quarter. True freshman Donaldven Manning also sealed the game with a last-minute interception, his first career.
The group overall doesn't fall too short of an A+ after Kyshoen Jarrett set up the Hokies' first touchdown with a 46-yard punt return in the first quarter. True freshman punter A.J. Hughes also looks like he's moved on nicely from his fumble against Georgia Tech, with five punts for a 44-yard average Austin Peay only had three punt returns, for just 15 total yards.
Offensively, Virginia Tech is still looking for the answers to another slow start. There are positive signs, but it's a matter of getting everything together, which hasn't happened yet. Defensively, Foster can't be happy about the rushing yards given up. Good news though as Taylor will be back against Pittsburgh and Edwards doesn't look to be far behind.
After the dramatic, nationally-televised, overtime win in the season-opener, this one lacked the excitement. The southwest corner of the stadium looked a bit empty and the rain at halftime didn't help. Still, Virginia Tech fans made the atmosphere a good one to be in, just not to the level of Georgia Tech.