After the loss to Alabama last week, the Hokies had two choices: hang their hats up and hope for the best, or come back and prove that they had played a tough three quarters in that game and, in the end, the Kickoff Classic was a good learned lesson.
The Hokies chose the latter.
Much of that can be attributed to the play of the offensive line which created many of the Hokie opportunities including many of the big showcase highlight runs by running backs Ryan Williams (r-Fr) and David Wilson (Fr). MadJay is about to cover much of this in his post to our Raycom Sports Virginia Tech Blog. Look for it later this week.
On Saturday, the Hokies--wearing the throwback uniform and helmet as a tribute to 1965-1967 defensive back Frank Loria who went on to coach defensive backs at Marshall but perished along with most of the Marshall Thundering Herd football team in the 1970 plane crash--defeated the 2009 version of the Herd team soundly by the score of 52-10.
Offensively, Tech did things against the Marshall that we didn't see done against Alabama. Proper line control was one of the biggest of all of these. The line control helped the Hokies gain 444-yards rushing and 161-yards through the air. Both Williams and Wilson finished the game with over 160-yards rushing. This achievement is a school history first.
Quarterback Tyrod Taylor (Jr) was nine for sixteen throwing for 161 yards for two touchdowns with one interception. Mind you, those two touchdowns are as many as he had all season last year.
Freshman backup quarterback Ju-Ju Clayton made an appearance in the fourth quarter. Despite struggling (0-3), getting Clayton on the field is key, if for nothing else, for the experience of being in the game.
Taylor's throws hit six different players: Danny Coale (So), Williams, Jarett Boykin (So), Dyrell Roberts (So), Xavier Boyce (Fr), and Josh Oglesby (So). Coale had one reception that went for 43 yards and Williams had one for 36. Boykin and Roberts had passes for 20 and 21 respectively. Other than that, due to the exceptional running game, the passing game was pretty quiet with the remaining passes making 6-12 yards each.
The Hokies punter Brent Bowden (Sr) had it easy all game. Bowden had to punt only three times. In total, the Hokies did not score on six possessions. They included two kneel downs that were taken at the end of the half and the game, these three punts, and the single interception by Taylor.
On defense, the Hokies also dominated as expected. The Hokies held the Herd to 126-yards rushing as well as 126-yards passing. The Herd made four first downs in the first half with never more than one per drive. They went three-and-out on five drives in that same half. The second half was equally dominate with two three-and-outs and only five first downs amongst two other drives.
The Hokies special teams also made up for some of it's first game woes. With all the punts that Marshall had to make (ten), the Hokies' punt returner Jayrod Hosley (Fr) gained 88 yards on three returns including one for a 64-yard touchdown return. Two other punts went for touchbacks and the rest were downed or fair-caught giving Hokies decent field possession on each.
Overall, this was an impressive bounce back for the Hokies. Let's hope they can maintain the momentum into this week's match-up against the Nebraska Cornhuskers.