Hok­ies rid­ing high, but must guard against fa­mil­iar fall in fac­ing Terps

The Washington Times Daily - - Weather - BY HANK KURZ JR.

Lo­gan Thomas and Vir­ginia Tech think they fi­nally have their of­fense fig­ured out.

The Hok­ies looked it in their 42-24 vic­tory at No. 24 Mi­ami as Thomas threw for 366 yards and a touch­down, and the run­ning game added 183 yards and four touch­downs by Trey Ed­munds.

The vic­tory kept Vir­ginia Tech (7-3, 4-2 At­lantic Coast Con­fer­ence) in the thick of the Coastal Di­vi­sion race, and earned Thomas a big em­brace af­ter­ward from of­fen­sive co­or­di­na­tor Scot Lo­ef­fler.

“He said, ‘You’ve been thrown a lot of stuff the past two weeks, prob­a­bly some stuff that you shouldn’t have,’ and he was just like, ‘This is the big­gest game I’ve seen one of my quar­ter­backs ever play,’ and that means a lot com­ing from him,” Thomas said.

The praise is high, in­deed, con­sid­er­ing that Lo­ef­fler’s for­mer pupils in­clude NFL quar­ter­backs Tom Brady and Chad Henne and Heis­man Tro­phy-win­ner Tim Te­bow, but the Hok­ies still have work to do.

There have been times ear­lier this sea­son when they thought things were com­ing to­gether, and then they stum­bled, and they can’t af­ford a re­peat when they host strug­gling Mary­land (5-4, 1-4) on Satur­day af­ter­noon.

Vir­ginia Tech is tied with the Hur­ri­canes, Ge­or­gia Tech and Duke at two losses in the Coastal Di­vi­sion standings. They beat the Yel­low Jack­ets and Mi­ami, but lost 13-10 to Duke, so they need some help.

They also need to keep win­ning. “It won’t mean much if we don’t fin­ish this thing off,” coach Frank Beamer said this week.

Thomas, who has taken the brunt of crit­i­cism for the Hok­ies’ of­fen­sive woes, said he could tell by the third se­ries against the Hur­ri­canes that the of­fense was go­ing to be able to fi­nally run the ball.

“Once we were able to run the foot­ball, I knew we were go­ing to be able to do our play ac­tion stuff and be able to drop back and throw it,” he said of his 26 for 31 pass­ing per­for­mance.

“A lot of our suc­cess is built on if and when we run the foot­ball and we did a great job in it and I knew from then on out that we were go­ing to have a good chance of beat­ing th­ese guys.”

The Hok­ies also added a new wrin­kle for the Hur­ri­canes, al­low­ing 6-foot, 311pound de­fen­sive tackle Der­rick Hop­kins to come in in goal-line sit­u­a­tions as a full­back, an ex­per­i­ment that worked well.

“The power that he brings will open a hole any­where pretty much,” center David Wang said.

Even with­out Hop­kins, the line was hav­ing a resur­gent per­for­mance.

Wang said line coach Jeff Grimes had told them all week to for­get the last play, fo­cus on the next and play with con­fi­dence.

As Ed­munds was nearly match­ing his touch­down to­tal in one af­ter­noon, it only im­proved.

“It’s ex­cit­ing be­cause af­ter the first cou­ple, you kind of see a sparkle in Trey’s eyes and it kind of gets us go­ing to be­cause when we see the back­field ex­cited, it means that they’re ac­tu­ally see­ing holes and see­ing lanes to run through,” Wang said, “and that gets us ex­cited and it gives us an ex­tra boost of en­ergy as well. Just see­ing him that happy and kind of get­ting into a zone kind of make us want to play bet­ter and block for him even bet­ter than we were that last se­ries or last cou­ple of se­ries.”

Satur­day’s game will be the last at Lane Sta­dium for Thomas and 12 other se­niors, and Thomas said he ex­pects to be emo­tional, but to be able to put that aside and fo­cus on fin­ish­ing on a strong note.

The Hok­ies con­clude their reg­u­lar sea­son the fol­low­ing week at ri­val Vir­ginia.

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