September 14, 2012

Stock Watch: Pittsburgh Game

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When the 2012 schedule was released, the Virginia Tech vs. Pittsburgh game looked like an enticing one, but the teams appear to be heading in opposite directions. The Hokies (2-0) travel to face the Panthers (0-2) on Saturday at Heinz Field. Here is your stock watch for who's up and down heading into the game on both sides.

STOCK UP

RB Michael Holmes, Virginia Tech

The former Harrisonburg star found the end zone for the first time as a Hokie on Saturday against Austin Peay with a two-yard run to open the game, before adding another score in the second half. He hasn't been the exclusive back, especially on Saturday as seven players carried the ball in all, but he has proven to be a solid up the middle, churning out yards.

Holmes doesn't appear to be a big-play guy but his nine carries for 40 yards and two scores on Saturday see his stock rising steadily as the season progresses. We know that Virginia Tech football is run-based, and even with Logan Thomas at quarterback, expect Holmes' workload to increase.


QB Logan Thomas, Virginia Tech

The junior star saw his stock drop last week with a less-than-stellar performance against Georgia Tech, but on Saturday he was quality through the air, completing 15 of 23 passes for 212 yards with two touchdowns and no interceptions. Last year at this time, he had one interception and was just over 40 percent on his completions through two games.

The game against the Governors was his first recording negative rushing yardage, but he isn't a back, he is in there to throw a ball and while he hasn't done the greatest of jobs, he hasn't thrown a pick. Cutting down the turnovers is only going to make it easier on the whole team, and as a veteran leader, he is doing what he needs to do.


RB Ray Graham, Pittsburgh

Graham is considered the star of Pittsburgh, but did you know that he has never run for over 1,000 yards in a season with the soon-to-be ACC institution?

A small back, Graham has the ability to do damage on the ground or as a receiver out of the backfield, and after an uneventful performance in the season-opening loss to Youngstown State, he bounced back with 103 yards on 19 carries, adding 51 yards off four catches. He hasn't been able to find the end zone though, which has been an issue for the team. Expect the back to get plenty of touches on Saturday as his workload has increased, as well as his production.

STOCK DOWN

RB J.C. Coleman, Virginia Tech

With the Hokies performing at a fairly high level, it's a bit hard to find any negatives. Coleman has been very good so far, but his opening fumble on Saturday hurts. He has the ability to make big, big plays, and I'm sure many Virginia Tech fans want to see him get more looks.

Coleman had six carries on Saturday, and I expect his workload to double this week, with some plays targeted to him out of the backfield. Not many people are as hard on themselves as Coleman, so I expect him to rebound from the fumble big time at Heinz Field.


Pittsburgh's entire defensive line

Through two games, the team has allowed 463 yards rushing and in the 34-10 loss to Cincinnati, the Bearcats averaged 8.4 yards per carry. The lineman have failed to get penetration and holes have been opened up to the point where I could run through them.

The pass rush has also been poor as the defensive backs have gotten torched. Through two games, the team does not have one interception, and we know who gets the fault for the lack of pressure. If the defensive issues don't get fixed, it could be a long, long game.


Coach Paul Chryst, Pittsburgh

Known as an offensive guru from his time at his alma mater, Wisconsin, the 46-year-old has gotten off to a horrendous start with just 27 points to show for two games. His job is not on the line, but it could be if his team continues to squander opportunities.

The schedule won't get much easier with No. 19 Louisville, No. 20 Notre Dame and tough trips to UConn, Syracuse and South Florida before the season ends. Saturday is the perfect chance to get the season back on track.

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