That was an early afternoon filled with empty calories, beer, bourbon, and blowouts. I walked out of the Georgia Dome last week disappointed, but not upset. "What if we..." The Hokies played the Tide tough, effort wasn't a question, but they were far from polished.
The Hokies showed progress against Western Carolina. The only major snafu on special teams was the normally sure handed Kyshoen Jarrett mishandling a punt (one in which he didn't get bailed out by the officials). Credit Frank Beamer for tightening up Pride and Joy by playing starters like James Gayle, Kyle Fuller, Brandon Facyson, and Dadi Nicolas.
The passing game looked sharper than last week. Yes, there were drops and bad decisions, but eventually Thomas settled into a groove, Josh Stanford and Willie Byrn each made a nice catch, and freshman Kalvin Cline distinguished himself as something other than a fashion icon. Thomas and Knowles tried to connect on the deep ball a couple of times, which given their skill sets is something they should combine to do very well, but didn't hit on. Perhaps it will happen when they really need the points.
All four of Tech's tailbacks showed a little (or a lot) of something. Depth was a concern at the beginning of August, but the position has filled out. J.C. was only in on one drive (I'd assume the coaches are bringing him back slowly), but he looked terrific. He had runs of 6, 9, 8, 2, 5, 3, and 5 yards on a 9 play drive. It was like watching a different running back. He made some sharp cuts, saw the field, and flowed into the creases. It won't be long before we see him burst through a seam to the end zone.
The defense suffocated WCU. The d-line rolled two-deep and harassed quarterback Eddie Sullivan. Although, to his credit Sullivan had a couple of long gains on the ground. Keeping track of the quarterback on the option is something Foster will have to clean up before Marshall. The secondary is vicious. They hit, attack the ball in the air, play inside the box, and on an island.
I'm cautiously optimistic this season. The potential, scheme, and want-to are all there. It's going to be a fun ride.