The Virginia Tech offensive attack benefited all day long Saturday by the Tech defense continuously giving them a short field to work with in the Hokies 51-7 rout of Georgia Tech. The offense led by junior signal-caller Marcus Vick quickly built a 24-0 halftime lead despite only having the ball for twelve minutes in the first half and totaled 320 yards on the day. The Hokies again struggled at times running the ball as Tech failed to eclipse 100 yards on the afternoon.
Vick posted another workmanlike effort on the afternoon completing 13 of 18 passes for 223 yards and a touchdown. What is becoming more and more impressive in regards to Vick is his production compared to his lack of turnovers. Vick has only thrown one interception on the season in 74 attempts compared to seven touchdown tosses including a 13-yard hookup with tight end Jeff King on the Hokies second possession of the game.
Vick's game management for a first year starter has exceeded expectations up to this point while the Virginia Tech team as a whole appears to be hitting stride just at the right time as the Hokies were firing on all cylinders Saturday.
About the only knock on Vick's play Saturday were some of the questionable hits he took while scrambling for extra yardage. Vick at times uses the sideline as his friend, but on occasion really wants to fight for extra yardage and take a few unnecessary hits.
A throw-first pocket passer, Vick's calm attitude in the pocket has made Tech a very dangerous offense as Marcus did a much better job of going through his progressions as opposed to locking in on one target as he did on occasion last weekend.
With the Virginia Tech special teams and defense racking up three total touchdowns and keeping the ball out of the hands of the Tech offense for much of the first three quarters, Tech really didn't have a chance or a need to establish the running game in this contest. With good field position most of the first three quarters in building a 48-7 lead, the Hokies took their shots downfield and utilized the running game as a change of pace.
Senior tailback Mike Imoh led the way for the Hokies gaining 55 yards on just 11 carries including a seven-yard burst late in the first half. Cedric Humes added 37 yards on 12 carries including a four-yard touchdown to get Tech on the board early in the second half.
Many of the Tech faithful have voiced concerns with the running game as many Hokies have become accustomed to having a household name in a tailback registering 100-yard after 100-yard effort, but Tech's run game may be in a support role to the passing attack for the first time in many seasons (at least dating back to my freshman year in 1995), and while that appears foreign to most Tech faithful, it appears to be working just fine as Vick is a talented passer with many weapons at his disposal.
Tech's wide receiving corps had an excellent afternoon on Saturday despite not reaching the end zone in the contest. The wide receivers accounted for 10 of 13 completions for 177 yards with five different receivers catching a pass on the afternoon.
It was good to see Eddie Royal involved in the passing game once again as Royal tallied a pair of receptions for 44 yards including a beautiful catch and spin move that left Georgia Tech defenders in the dust.
David Clowney led the group with three receptions for 47 yards including a perfectly executed flag route for a 31-yard reception on the second drive of the game that would set up the Hokies first score of the day. Vick made a tremendous pass on the play that dropped in beautifully over Clowney's should away from the defender.
Josh Hyman and Josh Morgan both added a pair of receptions while Justin Harper had one catch of his own. This group has been very unselfish this season as well as in 2004 where a different player steps up each week and makes plays. It's worth noting that the Tech receivers haven't dropped a pass since Royal's miscues versus Duke to my knowledge.
Jeff King continues to make his case as the best tight end in the ACC as he hauled in another three receptions on the afternoon for 46 yards including a 13-yard touchdown to get Tech on the scoreboard.
King also blocked a Georgia Tech field goal try on the Jackets ensuing possession that resulted in a 78-yard D.J. Parker return for a touchdown. All in a day's work for the Tech senior.
The biggest concern coming into the day was the play of the offensive line last week versus Ohio and how they would respond to the loss of Reggie Butler and a new center getting the start in Danny McGrath.
As mentioned above, Tech never really tried to establish the running game due to the rapid pace of the game that resulted in an avalanche of points for the Hokies through three quarters. The pass protection on the afternoon was superb considering Georgia Tech's attacking style of defense. Vick often had plenty of time to adequately move through his progressions and find wide open targets downfield for large chunks of yardage as the passing attack average over 17 yards per completion.
Starting tailbacks Imoh and Humes averaged four yards per carry on the day (92 yards on 23 carries), so while the run game is not quite the juggernaut Tech fans are used to, the play of the passing game may be opening things up a bit for the run. It will be interesting to follow the continued development of the running game for Tech this season as well as monitor this new line-up, a line-up many Tech faithful feel puts the best line on the field.
Stay tuned later today for the defensive position grades.
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