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November 26, 2012

Numbers Don't Lie: VT Gets By UVA

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Virginia Tech Junior kicker Cody Journell was able to redeem himself with a game-winning 29-yard field goal as time expired over Virginia on Saturday after a miss just three minutes prior. And because of the kick, the Hokies also (somewhat) redeem themselves by advancing to a bowl for the 20th consecutive season.

Let's dive into the stats to see just how Virginia Tech came out on top in its regular season finale. The Hokies finish 5-1 at Lane Stadium this season.


WHY VIRGINIA TECH WON

The Hokies may have passed for just 129 yards, but finished with 174 net yards on the ground. They needed 57 attempts to get to that number, but it seemed as though Virginia Tech was finally able to convert third-and-shorts on a consistent basis. Because the run-game was able to control the pace of the game, that led to the enormous advantage in time of possession.

Because of eight third-down conversions and two on fourth down, the Hokies were able to win the possession battle 37:30-22:30 over the Cavaliers. When you're controlling the clock like that, odds are you are controlling the outcome of the game. It also helps to control the game when you commit just one penalty for five yards after racking up more than 60 yards in each of the previous two games.

Speaking of converting on the ground, the Hokies were able to register a season-high 15 first downs via the rush. They converted a total of 23 first downs, the most accumulated in a victory this season. Although it was a just a three-point game, you should win more often than not when you record 16 more first downs than the opposition.


WHY VIRGINIA LOST

As mentioned, the Cavaliers offense was anemic for most of the game; they recorded just seven first downs overall. The previous season-low for first downs against the Hokie defense was 12 by Bowling Green. The Hokies converted five first downs on their third quarter touchdown drive; kind of hard to win when you register seven in the game.

You could really go through the entire Virginia roster and not find one offensive player that had a good game (by the numbers). Running backs Kevin Parks and Perry Jones combined for just 39 yards on 15 carries, never recording a rush over nine yards. For the game, the Wahoos had 30 net yards on 20 carries- good for an average carry of 1.5 yards.

Speaking of the possession battle, going 3-of-14 on third downs isn't going to help that fact. Because of a lack of plays, Virginia was able to record just 217 total yards.

It's not in the statbook, but Virginia had two timeouts remaining with about a minute remaining and the Hokies in field goal range. Head coach Mike London decided to save the timeouts for Journell's game-winning kick, also eliminating the chance of getting the ball back.


NUMBERS THAT DON'T MAKE SENSE WITH THE RESULT

When you have two players that register at least 15 tackles, you expect to have a chance to win. And because of Steve Greer's career-high 19 tackles and LaRoy Reynolds 15, Virginia did just that. The pair combined for one sack and 4.5 tackles for loss, but unfortunately it was all for naught.

As mentioned, the Hokies finished with 174 yards rushing. But after the first quarter, safety Jeron Gouveia-Winslow was leading Virginia Tech with 8 yards on one carry. It speaks a lot about how improved the offensive line was in the second half, where the Hokies rushed for 120 yards.

Much of the post-game talk was about the Hokie defense, but you have to credit the Cavalier defense for giving up just 129 yards passing to junior quarterback Logan Thomas. It was the least amount of yards Thomas has thrown in a Virginia Tech victory since a 91-yard performance against ECU in Week 2 of 2011.


WHAT THE HOKIES COULD IMPROVE UPON BEFORE THE BOWL

It doesn't need to be said, but the passing game will likely have to produce its best performance in order to win the bowl game. Many of the plays are open, but accuracy has plagued Thomas this season. Hopefully he will be able to work out the kinks over the next few weeks.

Freshman J.C. Coleman nor junior Tony Gregory recorded a catch out of the backfield (Senior Martin Scales had two catches for 8 yards). This facet must be improved upon, especially with the abilities of the two in space. It should be noted that Thomas missed a few of these throws though.


TRENDS

Thomas may have struggled through the air, but he was able to record a rushing touchdown for the fifth consecutive game. His previous best was three games on two separate occasions. The junior has also accounted for multiple touchdowns in three straight contests.

Junior cornerback Antone Exum's late interception marked the third consecutive game the Hokies' defense has recorded a pick. The unit also has a total of 36 quarterback hurries over the past two weeks. The defense also has registered at least five tackles for loss in four of the past five games.

The victory marked Virginia Tech's ninth straight win in the in-state rivalry, marking a new record for consecutive wins in the series.


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