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The reserves were spotted 13 points and returned two Logan Thomas interceptions for touchdowns Saturday.
Saturday, April 20, 2013
BLACKSBURG — When he spotted the reserves 13 points to start Saturday’s spring game, Virginia Tech coach Frank Beamer’s goal was to make things competitive by the fourth quarter, presuming the starters would make up the deficit.
It was wishful thinking.
The Hokies’ starters, the Orange team, struggled mightily Saturday at Lane Stadium in the annual spring exhibition, scoring only one touchdown and watching two Logan Thomas interceptions be returned for scores in a 27-9 loss to the White team.
“I thought it was going to be cake work, honestly,” defensive end James Gayle said. “But they came out there and played well. We weren’t able to overcome that. … It was just one of those days.”
It was hardly the spring unveiling the Hokies wanted for their new offense under coordinator Scot Loeffler, who had recruiting obligations afterward and was not available to the media.
Beamer, who made his biggest staff overhaul in years this offseason, acknowledged how much of a work in progress Tech’s offense remains, particularly because only a fraction — approximately a quarter — of it has been installed.
“On offense, we’ve got to get more consistent,” he said, adding what many Hokies fans had to have been thinking. “We’ve heard that before. …
“It’s not so important where we are today. It’s important where we can get to when we line up against Alabama.”
On that front, there remains plenty of work. The Hokies were 3-for-23 on third downs Saturday and had only one red zone opportunity, failing to score on it.
Virginia Tech didn’t run the ball with any authority, finishing with 23 rushing yards on 41 carries. Running backs Michael Holmes (24 yards), Trey Edmunds (11) and J.C. Coleman (minus 1) failed to break off any big runs with the first team, except for a 41-yarder that Edmunds had negated by a holding penalty.
But it was Thomas whose performance probably raised the most eyebrows, belying the progress that Loeffler has raved about this offseason. The senior went 16-for-29 for 214 yards but threw three crippling interceptions, two of which were returned for touchdowns.
The first came on a fourth-down play near the goal line on the Orange team’s opening drive. Redshirt freshman safety Der’Woun Greene jumped a pass intended for Demitri Knowles and took it back 98 yards for a touchdown.
On the next possession, Thomas threw a pass toward Josh Stanford that Donovan Riley stepped in front of for an interception, taking it back 53 yards for another score and 27-0 White team lead. Stanford took the blame on that one.
“He put the ball where he’s supposed to be,” Stanford said. “As a younger receiver, I need to find a way to get underneath when the cornerback is squatting on the depth.”
Thomas’ third pick came in the second quarter, when he overshot D.J. Coles up the seam, into safety T.J. Shaw’s hands.
Still, Thomas, who was named offensive MVP for the spring, wasn’t altogether displeased with his performance.
“I think all you all, and people are going to say I had a bad day today, but I can’t complain about how I played,” he said. “The ball was going where I wanted it to. I hit my spots. I was accurate. My mechanics have gotten better. My accuracy has gotten better. That’s all I can ask for.”
Fans not privy to the breadth of Thomas’ performance this spring probably would disagree — certainly based on Saturday’s game alone — although Beamer said he thinks his quarterback has made strides and won’t be affected by an off day.
“I think even good golfers have bad shots sometimes, but it’s how you react to those shots, what you do after those shots,” Beamer said. “In my opinion, Logan will always be right back every play.”
There were a few offensive silver linings. Stanford, a redshirt freshman expected to have a significant role, caught three passes for 86 yards, including a 57-yarder on a quick slant on the first drive.
The tight ends, plagued by drops this spring, caught some big passes. Ryan Malleck had a 30-yard touchdown catch from backup quarterback Mark Leal, the only offensive touchdown of the day, and converted defensive end Zack McCray had a team-high four catches for 65 yards.
Stanford said Saturday wasn’t indicative of how the team played all spring.
“It’s just little details, little small things that we as an offense didn’t do right all the time,” he said. “And it shows up in the bigger picture. … We just need to get everybody on the same page all the time.”
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