Virginia Tech’s 45-3 win over Western Carolina was more-or-less a glorified practice.
The result — even prior to the opening kick — was never in question. Rather, it was an opportunity for the Hokies to clean up some problem areas before the schedule begins to pick up.
Logan Thomas has never lacked confidence in either himself or his receivers. He knows it, his receivers know it, and Saturday that confidence cost him. Twice.
Overall, he was much improved from a week ago, connecting with his receivers on 17 of 31 attempts including a touchdown. He also threw a pair of interceptions, which were eerily similar to each other.
On a first-and-10 midway through the first quarter from the Western Carolina 43-yard line, Thomas tried to take advantage of one-on-one coverage. Demitri Knowles ran a go route down the right sideline, but was unable to establish much separation from Trey Morgan, the Catamounts defensive back.
Thomas slightly underthrew the deep ball, but in order for Knowles to be successful this year he must be able to do more than just use his speed to outrun defenders. He and the rest of the Hokies receivers have to be able to win 50/50 balls, something they haven’t done regularly enough so far this year.
Morgan played the ball better than Knowles, and Thomas’ interception total for the year reached two.
“One-on-one coverage, we have to make a play,” Thomas said after the game. “I have to put better placement, but we also have to make a play.”
With just over one minute remaining in the first half, Thomas threw his second pick of the game, again trying to let Knowles make a play in single coverage.
On the WCU 20-yard line, Thomas threw a ball to the corner of the endzone where cornerback Christian Gill, who was in better position than Knowles the entire play, came away with the ball.
This time, more of the blame could fall on Thomas, as the pass didn’t give Knowles much of a chance to come away with the ball. Still, for the Hokies passing game to have success this season, their receivers have to be able to create separation in man coverage, and at least make 50 percent of the plays on 50/50 balls. Saturday, they did not.
Thomas is going to trust his receivers to make the plays, and he is going to keep giving them the opportunities to. Now, they just have to go up and get the ball.
“When (Thomas) throws the ball up, he’s having confidence in us to go up and make the play, sometimes as receivers we don’t and it turns into interceptions and he gets a lot of flack for it,” said receiver Joshua Stanford.
“He’s very confident, but as receivers we have to make the plays when we get the opportunity.”
Fresh faces in the passing game
Joshua Stanford, Willie Byrn and Kalvin Cline combined for 12 receptions for 150 yards on Saturday. A week ago, the inexperienced trio had one catch between them.
Disappointed with the performances of his bunch, wide receivers coach Aaron Moorehead expressed during the week leading up to the game that no player’s role was set in stone, and whoever was performing best would play.