Will Herd load the box’ on Tech?
Without a David Wilson-type running back and a surprisingly sluggish passing attack, Virginia Tech coach Frank Beamer pretty much knows what to expect from opposing defenses.
He saw it last week at East Carolina, who his Hokies conquered 15-10. Often putting eight defenders in or near "the box," the Pirates held the Hokies to 53 rushing yards dared quarterback Logan Thomas to throw.
Thomas did throw for 258 yards and both Tech touchdowns, but was fortunate to get intercepted only once.
"I don't think there's a question," Beamer said about seeing that strategy often. "I think most people will probably take that approach. I'm hopeful that we're dangerous enough that you've got to think about it."
Cornerback Antone Exum won't return just yet from his ligament injury, Beamer said Monday, but a pair of freshmen is helping hold down the fort - and opposing receivers - until Exum returns.
Kyle Fuller is the graybeard senior remaining, and has welcomed younger brother Kendall into the fold. The latter is a true freshman, as well as Brandon Facyson. All three started as the Hokies began with a five defensive-back alignment against the pass-happy Pirates.
Facyson intercepted ECU quarterback Shane Cardell twice.
"They're not only athletic, but the game makes sense to them," Beamer said of the freshmen.
Most horrifying development for Hokie fans? Likely, it was Cody Journell hooking an extra point, then missing field goals from 38 and 40 yards.
Journell is a fifth-year senior who was named honorable mention All-America by SI.com a year ago. He made 20 of 25 field goals last year, hitting three game-winners.
"I think his plant foot got him in trouble a little bit," Beamer said. "He hoodwinked one and all of a sudden, he got worried about that and he pushed the next one right, so then it got going back and forth.
"I think every golfer knows, you hit a big ol' hook, and now you try to hook it, and so you're slicing it, you don't get your clubface closed. He got into that a little bit."
And finally, Beamer muffed the latest round of conference realignment. He can be excused, perhaps, for Tech escaped the former Big East for the Atlantic Coast Conference in 2004.
The Hokies are playing Conference USA schools in consecutive weeks for the first time ever.
"I think, probably, East Carolina, Marshall, probably along with Central Florida are the best teams in Conference USA," he said. "And Central went up and beat Penn State last weekend."
UCF has moved on, so give Beamer two out of three.
Reach Doug Smock at 304-348-5130, firstname.lastname@example.org or follow him at twitter.com/dougsmock.