Virginia Tech suffered another setback Saturday in what is becoming a long season, losing 48-34 to North Carolina to fall to 3-3 (1-1) on the year. It was the first time the Hokies lost while scoring more than 30 points since the 2003 Insight Bowl against California. There were still some bright spots for the Hokies, primarily offensively, and today we focus on those.
Davis still dropped a couple of key passes that needed to be caught, but he also hauled in three receptions for 66 yards and a big 49-yard touchdown. At this point, you have to take the good with the bad with regards to Davis and that means dealing with a few drops and celebrating the explosive plays down the field.
4. VT Pass Protection
Junior quarterback Logan Thomas had plenty of time to throw on Saturday and not surprisingly, he was able to put up some career numbers because of it. Thomas was only sacked once, on Virginia Tech's final offensive play of the game when he hung in the pocket as a defensive lineman crawled towards him, and was allowed to survey the field comfortably in the pocket for the entire game.
This was the best effort yet from the offensive line in terms of pass protection, despite some major shuffling occurring up front. Michael Via, Caleb Farris, David Wang, and Brent Benedict all got time at guard but in pass protection they didn't miss a beat. The run blocking is still atrocious, but this group was solid in one area Saturday.
The biggest beneficiary of Dyrell Roberts' injury Saturday, Knowles played big-time snaps for really the first time in his career. He has been very much a situational role player to this point in the season otherwise.
Knowles stepped up on Saturday when Tech needed him and hauled in six catches for 83 yards at receiver. He was particularly adept at settling into pockets in the zone 10 to 15 yards down the field.
On special teams, Knowles also made a huge impact, returning a kickoff 93-yards for a touchdown. He broke a couple tackles in the middle of the field, scooted left, and then exploded in typical track fashion with no one around him for the score in the third quarter.
Fuller is not the most athletic or talented wideout on the roster, but he is by far the most dependable. Fuller had another huge day Saturday, finishing with five catches for 143 yards and a 66-yard touchdown.
The senior was very effective over the middle once again Saturday, making the majority of his receptions on slant routes and in-routes over the middle. He has shown in the past two weeks a unique ability to pick up yardage after the catch over the middle.
After putting together a balanced and effective opening touchdown drive, the Hokies were forced into catch up mode for the rest of the day Saturday. That allowed Thomas to really air it out and set career highs in completions with 26, attempts with 49, and yards with 354.
He should have had one more touchdown, had Roberts been able to haul in a breakaway touchdown in the first quarter. Thomas hit the deep ball to Davis and Fuller at different times Saturday, but his accuracy on the intermediate and crossing patterns was the most encouraging aspect of his performance.
Thomas was on time and on target for the vast majority of those throws and made a number of them in near desperation situations in the second half. While the defense didn't show up, the offense certainly did and they were led by Thomas.