BLACKSBURG, Va. - There were a number of offensive question marks entering the 25th Virginia Tech football season under head coach Frank Beamer. In Tech’s 66-13 victory over Appalachian State in the team’s season opener on Saturday at Lane Stadium, a number of them were answered.
How would Logan Thomas fair in his first game in replacing Tyrod Taylor?
Thomas finished 9 of 19 for 149 yards and two touchdowns passing, and was sacked just once. He also ran three times for 16 yards. That included a long of 12 yards in which he bowled over Mountaineers’ free safety Patrick Blalock, whom Thomas outsized by six inches and 42 pounds.
“I think he’s going to get better and better,” Beamer said of Thomas. “I thought a couple times, it looked from me – this from the sidelines – that maybe he was trying too hard to be perfect with the throw. But for the most part, he was right on the money, and he had a couple dropped.”
How would Tech’s fifth straight untested field-goal kicker do in the game?
Tested early, Cody Journell was good on a 28-yard attempt that ended Tech’s second drive and gave the Hokies a 10-0 lead. He finished a perfect 7-for-7 on extra-point attempts, while his 10 points were the most for any of the previous four kickers in their opener. There was a chance for him, or Justin Myer, to attempt a 51-yarder in the first quarter, but Tech opted to try and pin the Mountaineers deep
“I thought he was good,” Beamer said of Journell. “I thought the best thing to do in that situation was to pin them. We’ve got the ability to make a field goal from there, and Myer wouldn’t have any problem kicking from there and Journell can pop it pretty good, but if you don’t make it, you give them such great field position.”
Lastly, and most importantly, what would speedy tailback David Wilson do behind a senior-laden offensive line? That question would be answered with his first touch of the ball.
The Hokies set up for their first offensive play at the Appalachian State 20-yard line after Antone Exum recovered a DeAndre Presley fumble.
Wilson took a handoff from Thomas, went left, then bounced his run to the outside and scored his first of three touchdowns on the day. He put the Hokies up 6-0 just 47 seconds into the contest.
“Earlier this week in the meetings, Coach Shane (Beamer, associate head coach and running backs coach) was going through the plays we were probably going to run, like the first three plays that would be called,” Wilson said. “So me, I was getting the first carry and then I told them I wasn’t going to need the second play because I was going to take it to the crib. But I wasn’t thinking it was going to happen.
“As soon as I made that cut, I saw that DB out there and that was it. I had a receiver out there, and they do well at picking up blocks on the edge and I knew I was getting into the end zone.”
The touchdown became the fastest touchdown by a Tech player in the Beamer era to open a season, the fastest touchdown in a home opener, the fastest touchdown in Lane Stadium, and was the fastest touchdown in a game overall since Andre Davis caught a 74-yard touchdown pass from Michael Vick in a 58-20 victory at Rutgers on October 9, 1999. That one took just 18 seconds.
Wilson had scored nine touchdowns before today, including a 90-yard kickoff return for a touchdown that sealed Tech’s win over Georgia Tech last year. But after this one, he seemed more amped than usual as he sprinted back towards midfield before heading to the sidelines.
“It was just the fact that it was opening the season, the first game, the first offensive play, the first carry I get as the starting tailback for Virginia Tech,” Wilson said. “And plus, I predicted it earlier in the week. I just came back and smiled at Coach Shane, and he knew exactly what I was smiling about.”
In all, Wilson carried 16 times for 162 yards, with five of his carries netting at least 15 yards, including his first carry in the second half – a 48-yard scamper. He finished three yards shy of his career high.
“I got out there and ran every play to the best of my ability,” Wilson said. “There were a couple of plays that I wish I could get back. But for the most part, I had a real good game.”
He was stopped behind the line just twice and his 10.1 per carry average was hurt a little, as it took three tries from the Mountaineer 2-yard line to punch it in on one occasion. Coming into the contest, Wilson averaged 9.3 yards every time he touched the football at Tech.
His 3-yard run TD run capped a 14-play, 97-yard drive that put the Hokies up 31-0 with 2:23 left until halftime and put him exactly at the 100-yard mark for the game, marking his third career game of 100 rushing yards.
He touched the ball just three times after halftime, rushing for 62 yards before his day was done. In the game, Wilson also went over 1,000 rushing yards for his career.
“I think that David is in great shape, and I think he’s got some more carries than that,” Beamer said. “With the way the game was today, I think that was about right for him. If he needs to carry the ball more, he can.”
For Wilson, this was only the beginning as he let those in the pressroom know of his individual goals he has set for himself in 2011.
“One hundred yards a game. Score every game. Break the all-time single-season rushing record. Break the single-game rushing record. Have 20 touchdowns at the end of the regular season and no fumbles. Try to be All-American,” he stated.
If he accomplishes the last one, it would be his second, as he became just Tech’s third football player to earn All-America honors in track (2011, triple jump, outdoor) and he’d be the first to do it in both sports. The other two were Dennis Scott (1978, 60-yard dash, indoor) and Kenny Lewis (1980, 60-yard hurdles, indoor).
Of Note (by my research):
Five fastest touchdowns scored in home openers under Beamer
1. David Wilson 20-yard run vs. Appalachian State (9/3/11) – 0:47 (also, the season opener)
2. Andre Davis 47-yard pass from Grant Noel vs. Connecticut (9/1/01) – 1:52 (also, the season opener)
3. DeAngelo Hall 69-yard punt return vs. Arkansas State (8/25/02) – 2:20 (also, the season opener)
4. Eddie Royal 11-yard run vs. Western Michigan (9/11/04) – 3:32
5. Kevin Jones 1-yard rush vs. Central Florida (8/31/03) – 5:07 (also, the season opener)
If you want the five fastest touchdowns scored in season openers under Beamer, eliminate Royal’s run, bump Jones run to #4 and add:
5. Jon Jeffries 8-yard pass from Will Furrer vs. Akron (9/2/89) - 5:19
If you want the five fastest touchdowns scored under Beamer:
1. Andre Davis 74-yard pass from Michael Vick at Rutgers (10/9/99) – 0:18
2. David Wilson 20-yard run vs. Appalachian State (9/3/11) – 0:47
3. Jermaine Holmes 0-yard punt return vs. Akron (10/14/95) – 1:06
T4. Keith Burnell 1-yard run at Rutgers (9/22/01) – 1:20
T4. David Clowney 16-yard pass from Bryan Randall vs. Florida A&M (10/16/04) – 1:20
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