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October 23, 2013

Resuscitating The Running Game

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Through Virginia Tech's past three games, the aerial attack has come alive. Senior quarterback Logan Thomas has averaged 251 yards passing in wins over Georgia Tech, North Carolina and Pittsburgh, propelling the Hokies to No. 14 in the first BCS rankings of the season released Monday.

At the opposite end of the spectrum is Virginia Tech's running game.

After an impressive performance in the season-opening loss to Alabama, which featured a 132-yard game from redshirt freshman Trey Edmunds, the ground attack has been virtually non-existent. Over the last three games, the Hokies have averaged just under 60 yards per game, including an abysmal 48 yards rushing against North Carolina.

While last week's bye certainly benefited Virginia Tech as a whole, the running game, from the running backs to the offensive linemen, to the coaches, might have been the biggest benefactors. Now, it's about getting some type of positive going forward.

"Surely, Trey would have liked to have put together more games, more successful games since the Alabama game," assistant coach Shane Beamer said. "But I'm not worried about him. We had a great practice (Tuesday), the off week was really good for us to really hone in on some things and get better. The only thing I've talked to Trey about is just get out there and have fun. Don't think so much. I think maybe our guys are pressing a little bit at the running back position. We're worried about doing everything exactly right and sure, you've gotta do things right, but at the same time, get out there and go play."

The combination of Edmunds, sophomore J.C. Coleman and redshirt freshmen Chris Mangus and Joel Caleb set to work over the past week and a half to try to get something going. And they've tried a few different looks to find any type of positive.

"Everyone's going out there in practice each day and trying to fix their individual problems," Edmunds said. "Hopefully, that'll carry over to the game and then, it'll make the whole situation better. You don't want one person trying to fix everyone's problems and it's just little things. But I feel like we're getting closer and closer to a breakout game from a running back's standpoint."

If there's a brightside it's that the Hokies' opponent this weekend, Duke, is who they played last season to kick-start the offense. Last season, Virginia Tech rushed for 269 yards against the Blue Devils, paced by 183 yards and two touchdowns by Coleman.

And this weekend, Coleman is finally getting healthy, after being hobbled the past two months by a nagging sprained ankle injury.

"The coaches did a good job of re-scheming things and toning things down a little bit to where we don't have to think as much," Coleman said. "It definitely changed the running game, that they made and that you'll see going forward."


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