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November 18, 2013

Final Grades: Loss vs Maryland

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Talk about pulling on Hokies fans' heart-strings. A week after pulling off a huge, upset win at Miami, Virginia Tech returned home to drop a disappointing 27-24 loss in overtime on senior day. Having seen the game in person, replays and thought it over, here's publisher Jason Stamm's exam of Virginia Tech's loss:

There's no knock on senior Logan Thomas not trying. That much was evident in the first half when he hurdled a defender, coming up a bit lame on the play. But the precision passing and ability to move that he showed at Miami just wasn't there Saturday. There were no turnovers and it wasn't a terrible throwing day, with 210 yards and a pair of touchdowns on 19-31 passing. But his -17 yards rushing on 13 carries, including being sacked seven times is atrocious. Sacks and an inept offense was the culprit this time, not turnovers.


Just when it seems like the Hokies have finally turned a corner with the running game, they revert back to their old ways. Thomas' sacks brought the overall yardage down, but redshirt freshman Trey Edmunds still didn't look like his explosive self, despite running for the game's first touchdown. It's still hard to believe a week earlier, Edmunds ran for four touchdowns. Sophomore J.C. Coleman got five carries, but wasn't much of a factor, with 13 yards.


There weren't many drops and for their part, the receivers are still making plays when the ball is thrown their way. Junior Willie Byrn had the best day of the group, with six catches for 69 yards and a pretty, over the shoulder catch in the end zone for the game-tying touchdown. Still, it was a stark contrast overall from the clinic this group put on against the Hurricanes.


Man, at times, Thomas didn't have time to blink before being hurried or pressured. The line gave up seven sacks on Thomas and weren't much better in the running game, where Virginia Tech ran for just 54 yards. If there was any good thing it's that the line had just one penalty, a false start in the first quarter. But that doesn't come close to making up for the rest of the mistakes made, in pass protection of run blocking.


For whatever reason, the Hokies just could not tackle Maryland quarterback C.J. Brown. After running for five yards on 15 carries against Syracuse, he had 122 and two touchdowns on 23 carries Saturday. The Hokies had three sacks, but only one came up front, from senior defensive end James Gayle. A disappointing close to the home schedule from the guys up front.


Senior Jack Tyler had a sack, as did senior Tariq Edwards[/db], but they struggled containing Brown as well. In his final home game for Virginia Tech, Tyler also had a forced fumble and three hurries. Many of his 11 tackles were of Brown, who for whatever reason was a handful to bring down all day.


If there was one area that was at least close to on its game, it was the secondary. Playing without seniors Kyle Fuller and Antone Exum due to injury, freshman Kendall Fuller stepped up with eight tackles and just yanked the ball away from a Terps receiver in the second half. Freshman Brandon Facyson also made a good read on a deep throw over the middle of the field for an interception. Just one big pass play was given up, for 43 yards in the second half, as Brown threw for 135 yards.


With Cody Journell dismissed earlier in the week, the kicking duties fell to walk-on Eric Kristensen, who had his first field goal tipped and went wide left. He did hit the go-ahead field goal in overtime, but he just looks so tiny out there. In the return game, Demitri Knowles had a big return, but this area as a whole gets a big downgrade for some terrible coverage teams. Maryland scored on a 63-yard punt return and nearly broke a few more. Coverage has to improve going forward.


After mixing in the pass and run so well at Miami, offensive coordinator Scot Loeffler wasn't able to get much going Saturday. The run game was back to ineffective, the offensive line struggled immensely and Thomas was well-below how he'd played the previous three games. Defensively, Brown caused plenty of headaches all day for coordinator Bud Foster by running the ball. Certainly not the results either was looking for on senior day.


Just about 1,000 from a sellout, the crowd still made a big impression on the majority of the 75+ recruits in attendance. And while it was plenty loud early, there wasn't a lot to cheer about, except for the horse on the treadmill shown on the video board. A disappointing end to the home schedule for sure, but the crowd was still plenty into the game throughout.



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