The biggest story line to emerge from Virginia Tech’s 26-7 win over Arkansas State this past weekend was the success quarterback Logan Thomas had throwing the ball as the Red Wolves stacked the line of scrimmage with eight and nine defenders to stop the run.
On Tuesday, following the first game of the year in which he was held less than 100 yards, junior running back David Wilson had a warning for others who try to bring extra defenders into the box to slow him down.
“That’s going to hurt them in the long run, because it didn’t work Saturday,” said Wilson, who is still tied for sixth in the country with 384 rushing yards through three weeks of the season.
Nonetheless, with an unproven first-year starter at quarterback the Hokies won’t be shocked if more teams dare them to throw the ball, whether it’s this week at Marshall or in the coming weeks when they move into their ACC schedule.
After all, it’s not like this is some radical new strategy. Coach Frank Beamer has favored a run-first approach for years now.
“I think teams know they’ve got to probably come into games feeling like they’ve got to stop the run against us and we realize that,” running backs coach Shane Beamer said. “We invite teams to go up there and try to stop the run, because we’ve got the weapons outside and the quarterback to take advantage of that.”
Offensive coordinator Bryan Stinespring echoed Beamer’s comments, saying he was happy that with Arkansas State bringing up an extra defender or two to stop the run, “we also showed that we’re willing to drop back, spread the field and throw it, and had success doing it. It was important for us going in to be more balanced.”
Thomas finished Saturday with career highs in completions (21), attempts (33) and passing yards (292), and through three games, the statistics show the Hokies to be remarkably balanced on offense. They’re averaging 215 yards passing and 211 yards rushing through three games.
The interesting part in all this is that Thomas’s struggles against East Carolina two weeks ago (8 of 20 for 91 yards and an interception) were mainly because the Pirates rushed just three linemen and had eight defenders in coverage, something Stinespring admitted the team wasn’t expecting.
That game aside, one strong showing against a Sun Belt opponent is unlikely to deter tougher teams from putting the game on Thomas’s shoulders again. But it’s unlikely Virginia Tech will be caught off guard.
“We’re expecting them to load the box and let Logan prove himself, see what he can do,” wide receiver Danny Coale said. “You want that challenge and Logan is more than capable of delivering.”