Why I’m afraid of… Austin Peay?
As long as the JMU fiasco from 2010 is still fresh in everyone’s memories, keep in mindanything can happen on a college football field at any given time.
Granted, with that being said, the circumstances this time around for Virginia Tech’s Monday/Saturday games are just a little bit different.
For starters, the Hokies won on Monday night. Spirits should be a little higher than they were after the devastating loss to Boise State two seasons ago.
Additionally, JMU is consistently a competitive team in the FCS. Austin Peay? Not so much (10 wins in the last four years).
However, Tech showed Monday night it has its fair share of kinks to work out. The offense was far from perfect, and the special teams units, which were once the pride and joy of this program, are lagging behind.
So here’s why I’m just ever so slightly afraid of the … (Looking it up on Google) ... the Governors:
The only bright spot on AP’s offense during week one, Kitts ran for 104 yard and a touchdown on just 10 carries. While the passing game struggled mightily (two-of-11 combined for 11 yards and an interception) Kitts shined — at least, as much as one can shine while getting beat 49-10 by Western Kentucky. If the Governors have any success on offense this weekend, it will likely come from No. 12.
THIS TEAM IS BANGED UP
As per usual, the annual Techmo Bowl on Monday night left both teams feeling less than stellar, physically speaking. Linebacker Jack Tyler — who led all defenders with a career-high 17 tackles — even tweeted after the game: “I feel like I was hit by a dump truck.” Austin Peay is by no means a good football team, but it’s still college football, and a defense that’s not quite at 100 percent can still be an Achilles' heel to any team.
THE OFFENSE HAS TO SHOW UP
As we went over earlier, Monday night’s offensive performance was far from pretty. Logan Thomas threw several clutch passes late, but admittedly struggled for most of the game. The running game also never really got going, as Tech averaged just 3.7 yards per carry — not including two kneel-downs and that dropped snap from punter AJ Hughes. The Hokies have a long way to go if they plan to be serious national title contenders, and Saturday’s a great opportunity for Thomas and co. to start moving in the right direction.
BECAUSE IT’S HAPPENED BEFORE
As if I said before, obviously this is a very different situation from the first five days of the 2010 season. However, I have no doubt that in the back of every Tech fans’ mind will be Darren Evans losing the handle on that ball on that fateful September day. If Appalachian State can beat Michigan and JMU can beat Virginia Tech, then anything is possible.
Well… that wasn’t easy. Here’s why I’m not (and why you shouldn’t at all be) afraid of Austin Peay:
THEY’RE AUSTIN PEAY
Yes, Tech’s lost to an FCS opponent before, and yes, it was on a Saturday game directly after a Monday game. But because that happened, there’s no way the Hokies will ever take a weaker opponent less seriously than they would a normal one.
THIS DEFENSE IS AS GOOD AS ADVERTISED
All offseason, the hype surrounding this team was based largely off its defense, which was expected to be one of the best in the country. It didn’t disappoint on Monday night, holding the Yellow Jackets to just 192 yards on the ground and 288 overall; that was with linebacker Bruce Taylor on a bum ankle for half the night. The defensive line rotated in eight different guys regularly and the secondary held its own, as safety Kyshoen Jarrett looked for real in his first collegiate start. I’d be surprised to see the Governors score a point against the starters.
THE OFFENSIVE LINE
One of the big storyline’s during last spring was Tech’s offensive line, and whether or not they’d be able to come together and succeed with four new starters. That concern lessened during fall practice and Monday night showed why. Every offensive lineman graded out at least 81 percent, with Andrew Miller and Nick Becton coming in at 90 percent. They’ll undoubtedly have more success against a team that gave up 244 yards on the ground to Western Kentucky.