With their starting quarterback out with a broken collarbone and only five days to prepare for their next game, Virginia Tech looked possibly vulnerable to another shocking FCS upset at home. The Hokies instead asserted themselves on both sides of the ball on their way to a 42-3 win over Furman.
The win is Frank Beamer's 232nd with Virginia Tech, tying him with Bear Bryant for seventh-most by one coach at one school. Here are the five big takeaways from the win:
Settling in: With the injury to Michael Brewer, Brenden Motley started under center for the Hokies. Things did not look good to start as Motley struggled passing, but he settled in as the game continued and ultimately finished with a strong performance.
After his first two drives, Motley had only two pass attempts with zero completions. He was putting far too much air under the ball that was allowing defenders time to react and knock the pass away. His first three attempts were all broken up by Furman defenders.
Motley, however improved immensely as the game continued and began making better reads and showing more zip on the ball.
You could tell he was starting to settle in as a passer in the third quarter when he was able to hit Isaiah Ford for a short one-yard touchdown. Motley had to time the pass perfectly and hit Ford in stride in the end zone and he did both.
For the game, Motley completed 16 of 24 passes for 233 yards and two touchdowns. He also rushed for 38 yards.
Against a better secondary, Motley may have been victimized early for easy interceptions, but overall you could not have hoped for a better game from him given the circumstances.
Doing it on defense: Not every offense is as good as Ohio State’s. After a rough opener, the defense looked like its old dominant self again against the Paladins.
The defensive pressure shredded Furman's offensive line to make sure quarterback Reese Hannon was never comfortable in the pocket. After not managing a single sack against the Buckeyes, the Hokies had three sacks in this game and two interceptions.
The pressure ultimately led to Virginia Tech's first touchdown as Andrew Motuapuaka returned an interception 18 yards to the end zone. With the offense's early struggles, this was a hugely important play. Virginia Tech took only a 14-0 lead into halftime. Take away the defensive touchdown and there would have been some nervous moments in Blacksburg.
The Paladins took advantage of Virginia Tech's aggressive defense for a few big runs and ended up with 136 rush yards (254 total). That's more than you would like to see, but for the most part the defense did what it was supposed to do.
One trick Hokies? For much of the first half, the offense looked similar to that of the Logan Thomas era. The offense was focused primarily on running the ball with a lot of zone read, quarterback keepers and a very inconsistent pass attack. That's not a good thing. This offense has to have some balance to it or it doesn't work. Virginia Tech is not Georgia Tech who can get away with passing the ball only five times a game.
Motley improved throughout the game, however, so did the offense.
Motley threw for 233 of the team's 284 passing yards and the Hokies finished with 583 yards, the 9th-most under Beamer. Redshirt freshman Travon McMillan also had a breakout performance with 98 yards on just six carries including one big 63-yard run.
It’s important to keep in mind that this was against Furman, but with only five days to prepare Motley to take over the offense, 583 yards and 42 points is as good as you could hope for.
Dwayne Lawson debut: The question over who would back up Motley was answered early in the first quarter. After his helmet came off during a play in the first drive, Motley was forced to sit out the next play per NCAA rules. In came the much-heralded true freshman, Dwayne Lawson. Lawson handed the ball off once and came off, but he would get more playing time in the second half.
With the game well in hand, both Lawson and redshirt freshman Chris Durkin both were given chances with the offense. Lawson looked unbelievably physical, lowering his shoulder for a few big hits. He also completed his first attempted pass, a 31-yard reception for tight end Kalvin Cline.
Lawson finished with three completions off of seven attempts for 51 yards and added another 51 yards on the ground on nine carries.
Durkin did not attempt any passes, but ran for 25 yards on four carries.
The injury bug strikes again: The injury bug is back in Blacksburg as Motuapuaka, J.C. Coleman and Bucky Hodges all left this game early with injuries. Motuapuaka and Coleman both suffered knee injuries while Hodges suffered a bruised right quad.
None of the injuries are thought to be serious, but they are definitely worth keeping an eye on this week.
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