Like many of you, last weekend I traveled through the heart of Nowhere, Maryland to watch Tech play a left for dead Pitt. After two less than dominate wins to start the season I thought the Hokies were poised to have their best game of the season, and I wanted to be there firsthand to see it. Instead, it was a beat down. Pitt was up to the challenge while Tech rolled over back into bed. All I want and expect out of the team this week is for them to bounce back, and show they are getting better.
But, if things get worse, George is to blame.
No, not really, but will Logan Thomas look sharp from the start? He was a difference maker from the Miami game on last season, but in the three games to start 2012 he's played progressively worse.
Statistically, Bowling Green has one of the worst pass defenses in the nation. If Tech is unable to move the ball through the air, then I am going to lower my expectations for the rest of the season. Bowling Green has a stout rushing defense, but they are without starting nose tackle Jairus Campbell. Campbell suffered a foot injury last week against Toledo. Defensive line was an already thin position for Bowling Green.
Campbell started in BG's first three games and had four tackles, including 1.5 tackles for loss. In previous weeks he was listed as a co-starter at nose tackle with junior Ted Ouellet, who has 10 tackles, including 1.5 tackles for loss, in those three contests.
Ouellet and senior defensive tackle Chris Jones are the only experienced players in the middle of the line. Ouellet's backup at the nose will be Michael Minns, a true freshman from West Palm Beach, Fla., while freshman walk-on Taylor Royster backs up Jones.
Another potential option in the middle of the line, sophomore Hunter Maynard, was injured during fall drills and will not play this season.
Senior defensive tackle Chris Jones (#91) is a good one. He's been named Mid-American Conference defensive player of the week twice this season (11 tackles, 6 for loss, 3.5 sacks).
Beamer Co. spent part of the week evaluating the running game and tailback rotation. Michael Holmes leads the team with 31 carries, followed by Logan Thomas (29), J.C. Coleman (14), Martin Scales (10), Tony Gregory (5). At 3.22 yards per carry, Holmes has not been super effective. French expects Coleman to get the bulk of the work Saturday.
Tech will be without starting left guard David Wang (ankle). Matt Arkema is listed as Wang's backup and he filled in for him against Pitt, but struggled. Michael Via has started each game at right guard, but has gotten less snaps each week (72, 37, 25). Brent Benedict has come off the bench and performed well in relief of Via. It's anyone's guess how it will unfold, but to me it makes the most sense to start Via at left guard and Benedict at right.
Kyle Fuller left last week's game in the first quarter with a shoulder contusion. He's listed as probable, but expects to give it a go. The secondary doesn't have starting talent on the bench, yet.
Much like Pitt, Bowling Green has a veteran quarterback capable of making plays. Matt Schilz will start his 26th game Saturday. He threw for 3,024 yards, 28 TDs, and 13 INTs in 2011, but he's off to a slow start in 2012 throwing for 703 yards, 1 TD, and 3 INTs. He's not a run threat.
The same five players have started along the o-line so far for the Falcons. They combine for 51 career starts and return two fulltime starters from 2011.
At the beginning of the week the players and coaches were united in saying they took Pitt too lightly. It's unfortunate that it took a thumping to get their focus, but I believe Tech will be a much improved team this week, like the one I was expecting to see at Pitt.