Eric Russell

ACC Notebook: Hokies' Offense Holds Back VT

Created on Sept. 17, 2013 3:42 PM EST

Va. Tech Defense Deserves More

The Hokies fought for a close victory over East Carolina on Saturday. Despite the win, which has the Hokies' record where many people thought it would be after three games, something is off about the team. That something happens to be the offense. 

The offensive struggles are made more evident by the high level at which the defense has played. Virginia Tech has only given up three touchdowns through its three games on the year. Players have come up with big plays defending the pass and run.

The pass defense has baffled quarterbacks so far. Shane Carden became the second opposing quarterback to throw three interceptions, and no quarterback has broken the 200-yard passing mark. The run defense only has allowed one team to gain more than 100 yards on the ground. 

Even the No. 1 team in the nation had difficulties with the stingy defense. AJ McCarron, the guy fans saw dismantle Texas A&M's defense Saturday, knows all about the Hokies' defensive prowess. McCarron posted a career-low 89.3 quarterback rating in the season opener against Virginia Tech and the Hokies held him to 110 yards while completing 43 percent of his passes. 

Logan Thomas and the offense have failed to make the most of the opportunities the defense gives them. In the win over ECU, Thomas was a little better than his inaccurate performances —  aided by drops from his receivers —  in the first two games. However, this time it was the run game that was the biggest disappointment.  The Hokies have one more tune-up this weekend against Marshall before a short turnaround to play Georgia Tech and its high-powered offense. While the defense has been good, they will need more production from the offense when they travel to Atlanta to open ACC play. 

Winston vs. Boyd

I promise my ACC notebook won't turn into a Jameis Winston shrine, but he keeps giving me reasons to mention him. After the first two starts of his career, he only has five incomplete passes and six touchdowns. He also has two ACC Rookie of the Week awards to his name. 

Perhaps the best way to put it in perspective is to compare him to Tajh Boyd, who is regarded as the best player in the conference. Granted, it has been two games, and Winston hasn't played a team on the level of Georgia, but Winston's numbers are impressive compared to those of the preseason player of the year. 

Winston has a higher completion percentage, more yardage and more touchdown passes than Boyd. Winston also has more interceptions, as Boyd hasn't thrown one. Both quarterbacks live for the early strike. Two of Boyd's three touchdown passes have come on first down, and Winston has completed all 26 of his pass attempts on first down, including four of his six touchdowns. The most important stat, though, is victories. Boyd and Winston each have two in two games. 

Fans in Death Valley thought they got a treat when they got to see Boyd and Aaron Murray go toe-to-toe in the season opener, but that may only have been the prelude to Oct. 19. Should the two quarterbacks keep up their play, the Oct. 19 matchup between the Seminoles and Tigers will be another hyped Top-10 battle with a great quarterback matchup. 

Tigers' Thursday Night Troubles

Clemson still has some business to take care of before any potential Top-10 showdown can take place. When the Tigers take the field at Carter-Finley Stadium, they will be looking to do something they haven't had much success doing since the turn of the millennium: win on Thursday night. The Tigers have only managed to do it two times in the nine tries since the year 2000. 

Two of those losses came against N.C. State, and N.C. State likes to play spoiler to top ACC teams. Last season it was Florida State who got knocked off by the Wolfpack, and the previous season they blew out the seventh-ranked Tigers. 

Hunt Takes Over 

Syracuse named Terrel Hunt its starting quarterback against Tulane this week. I'm not the type to say "told you so," so I'll let this link to last week's notebook do the talking. 

Hunt did seem to spark the offense when he relieved Drew Allen, who managed three points in the first three drives of the game against Wagner. With the way Allen was performing, head coach Scott Shafer and the Orange have nothing to lose. 

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