Hokies on pace for most passing yards under Beamer
Either Jarrett Boykin or Danny Coale will be Virginia Tech's career receptions leader when this season is over. The other will be No. 2.
Already the leading receivers in school history, the seniors also might be part of the most prolific passing season the No. 16 Hokies have ever had in 25 years under coach Frank Beamer.
Assuming the Hokies (6-1, 2-1 Atlantic Coast Conference) get invited to a bowl game, which they have for each of the past 18 seasons, they are on pace to pass for 2,951 yards, or 101 more yards than they threw for last season - the high under Beamer - and Tyrod Taylor quarterbacking.
''I didn't know that stat. You can kind of tell throughout the flow of the game,'' said Coale, who has 137 receptions, 13 fewer than Boykin. ''We go more three- and four-wide sets than we have in the past and then you look at the stats at the end of the game and Logan (Thomas) has thrown 30, 35 balls sometimes. So that's unusual and not really what we're accustomed to around here.''
But it's clearly working. The Hokies have scored 38 points in consecutive games, and will look to keep the offense rolling when struggling Boston College (1-5, 0-3) visits Saturday.
Virginia Tech has benefited all season from teams ''stacking the box,'' or playing an extra defender up close to the line to stop the run - or almost dare the Hokies to try to pass.
In the past two games, Thomas, the first-year starter, has especially foiled that strategy. He's thrown for 590 yards and five touchdowns, completing 70 percent of his passes.
And when a defense tries to play Coale or Boykin one-on-one, the Hokies get predictable.
''It kinda says to us, `We're presenting you with a challenge and we're going to load the box and we're going to make you beat us with the pass,' and that's exciting because as competitors, that's what you want,'' Coale said Tuesday. ''When you see opportunities on film to go downtown and to make some plays, it's what we like to see. We look forward to those situations.''
Thomas, whose biggest struggle early on was throwing the ball too hard, got a chance to put the plan to the test against Wake Forest on Saturday night. With the Hokies trailing 10-0 and at the Demon Deacons 40, they sent a single defender out on Boykin, and Thomas changed the play.
Running straight downfield, Boykin won a jump ball against the defender for a 39-yard gain, setting up Thomas' 1-yard touchdown run that got the Hokies untracked in a 38-17 victory.
''You see it, go ahead and give it to him,'' Thomas said. ''Let him go do his thing. That's pretty much the same way for anybody that's going to be receiving the ball for us.''
Boykin, especially, has a knack for using his big body - he's 6-foot-2 and 219 pounds - and huge hands to come away with the reception in such situations, making him a no-brainer target.
''I expect him to win every time,'' Thomas said of Boykin, whose 2,495 receiving yards also are the most in school history. He passed Ricky Scales, with 2,272, this season. ''You can put it in the air and you expect him to go get it, which he does pretty much every time.''
The idea for opponents early in the season was to stop the Hokies running game because tailback David Wilson was more experienced, and had already shown he's explosive. Wilson leads the conference in rushing at 129 yards per game, despite the attention to stopping him.
With Thomas and the passing game now also clicking, Coale sees good things ahead.
''You just build more confidence as each week goes along and then you have those moments like the Miami game where you can come back,'' he said, referring to Thomas' winning 19-yard touchdown run with 56 seconds to go. ''Be down 10 at Wake Forest and kinda get things rolling and clicking and once they do, you have full confidence that you can continue to score points.''