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The Hokies picked off Western Carolina three times, but Tech's QB threw a few picks as well.
MATT GENTRY | The Roanoke Times
Detrick Bonner (8) celebrates with James Gayle after Bonner returned a first-quarter interception for a touchdown Saturday.
Saturday, September 7, 2013
BLACKSBURG — Logan Thomas wanted to throw no more than five interceptions this season.
Virginia Tech’s senior quarterback may have to re-adjust his goals.
Thomas threw a pair of first-half interceptions on Saturday against FCS Western Carolina in the Hokies’ 45-3 rout of the Catamounts at Lane Stadium, bringing his season total to three in just two games.
“It’s all stuff we can clean up,” said Thomas, who finished 17 of 31 for 200 yards and a touchdown, a week after completing just five passes against No. 1 Alabama.
Thomas said he thought the intended wide receiver on the two interceptions, sophomore Demitri Knowles, should have made more aggressive plays on the ball. (Knowles saved Thomas from a second interception last week against Alabama when he knocked away an underthrown ball in the end zone.)
But Thomas, who also threw three interceptions in Tech’s spring game, acknowledged he was at least partly culpable for the errant plays.
“Sometimes my passes have to be better,” said Thomas, who now has 29 career interceptions in 36 games. “Sometimes I have to put it more outside.”
Thomas isn’t likely to reach the program’s all-time mark for picked off passes. That unfortunate albatross hangs around the neck of Don Strock, who threw the ball to the other team a staggering 47 times from 1970-72, including tossing 27 interceptions his senior season.
Tech coach Frank Beamer said he thinks Thomas and the rest of the offense are still getting comfortable with each other and with new offensive coordinator Scot Loeffler. With familiarity, Beamer insisted, will come increased success.
“As we get more used to each other and learn each other and get our timing down, that’s going to, regardless of how many interceptions, the passing game’s going to continue to get better,” Beamer said. “I thought it got better today and it will continue to get better.”
Of course, the mistakes had little impact on the outcome Saturday, thanks in large part to the interceptions Tech’s defense corralled.
The Hokies demonstrated just how devastating interceptions can be, picking off Western Carolina’s Eddie Sullivan three times, the first time they’ve done that to an opponent since Duke in 2011.
True freshman cornerback Brandon Facyson intercepted Sullivan to end the Catamounts’ first possession. Seven minutes later, Thomas gave the ball back with his first turnover of the day.
But two plays later, the Hokies’ defense came up with the kind of game-changing play the unit is known for. Coordinator Bud Foster brought pressure by blitzing senior cornerback Kyle Fuller from the edge, forcing Sullivan into a pass that was deflected by freshman cornerback Kendall Fuller, Kyle’s younger brother and a five-star recruit.
The ball caromed to junior safety Detrick Bonner, who caught it and raced 37 yards for a touchdown. It was Virginia Tech’s first defensive score since the 2010 Atlantic Coast Conference title game and the 83rd during Beamer’s tenure in Blacksburg.
“I hope it’s the first of many this year,” Beamer said. “When we’re scoring, and it’s not just the offense, it’s the defense and special teams, that’s when we’re really right.”
Of course, cutting down on how often the offense gives it other team wouldn’t hurt either.
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