The play is quite simple, yet it hasn’t been defended consistently all season.
Logan Thomas takes the shotgun snap, and depending on which side the play is designed, reads the defensive end. If the end crashes down, Thomas gives the ball to the running back around the outside. If the end holds his ground, well, Thomas is going to take it up the gut himself.
That read-option play has been successful just about every time the Hokies have run it. Sprinkled in with some other variations of the play, the team’s 1-2 punch in the backfield is downright lethal.
“It’s a great play,” said David Wilson. “It’s designed well, and especially with the personnel. I’m faking on the outside, and that’s a dangerous place for me to be, so the defense flows. Then Logan does what he does best.”
On second-and-10 from the U.Va. 14-yard line on the Hokies opening drive, Mike O’Cain decided to let his quarterback do a little bit of running.
Sprint-option left, one cut up field and Thomas had already left his mark on the Commonwealth Cup.
That six-play, 83-yard touchdown drive quieted the Scott Stadium crowd, and the 38-0 final score sent them back to the parking lots let down.
“I don’t think we ever expect to win like that,” Thomas said. “We respected Virginia … but I think we just played our best ball today.”
When the Hokies are clicking in all facets of the game like they were Saturday in Charlottesville, they’re a tough team to match up with.
The Hokies head into the ACC Championship riding a seven-game winning streak, making that Oct. 1 loss to Clemson seem like years ago.
“I think offensively we’re a better offense right now,” said head coach Frank Beamer. “And of course that goes back to your quarterback and his play. But you know, we have the ability, I think, to be a balanced group.”
The run-pass threat the Hokies possess has been key during the winning streak. When Wilson isn’t finding room to run, Thomas has shown his ability to pick apart a secondary through the air. When Thomas isn’t connecting with his receivers, Wilson has picked up chunks of yardage on the ground.
Most analysts thought the Hokies would struggle in Thomas’ first year as a starter. However, as the season has progressed, the offense has at times looked better than it did last year.
Beamer, who recruited Thomas as a tight end, could not be happier with what he’s seeing from his signal-caller this year.
“To me he’s a perfect quarterback,” Beamer said. “You know, he’s a great leader, he’s got great respect from his teammates. I think he has a great way in the huddle, and all
those other things that you want your quarterback to be other than being smart and competitive and all those things, too.”
It’s been a smooth changing of the guard in the offensive backfield, as Thomas and Wilson have both put up big numbers in their first years starting.
With two senior receivers (Jarrett Boykin and Danny Coale), four senior offensive linemen and a group of underclassmen that consistently rise to the occasion, the offense has had no trouble putting up points.
“Regardless who the ball goes to on this offense, we’re going to make plays,” Wilson said.
The Hokies have risen to the occasion on defense, especially with so many starters out with injuries.
“Defensively, you know, we’ve played well,” Beamer said. “We’ve had some tough injuries over there. But again, we’ve always played hard and fairly efficient there.”
The rematch with Clemson in the ACC Championship Game will be a test for the Hokies, but it’s one they’ve been studying for since their first game.
The Hokies know what works and what doesn’t, who can and can’t make plays, and what it will take to beat the Tigers.
“To me it’s one game, it’s two really good football teams, and everyone knows what’s at stake there,” Beamer said.