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October 15, 2012

Big Performers: Duke Comeback Win

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Virginia Tech flirted with disaster Saturday afternoon before racing past Duke to move to 4-3 (2-1) on the season. The Hokies got monster performances from a number of players, including RB J.C. Coleman and WR Marcus Davis.

5. Logan Thomas, quarterback

Aside from an early pass to redshirt freshman wide receiver Demitri Knowles that was a tad high and an overthrown deep ball; Thomas had his best game of the year Saturday. The Hokies didn't really test the Blue Devils in the intermediate range, but Thomas was accurate and on point both on quick screens to the perimeter and on throws deep down the field.

On one occasion Thomas even was able to recognize that the screen wasn't going to be effective and decided to tuck the ball and pick up yardage on the ground. He finished with 50 yards on the ground, but his contributions were mostly through the air. Thomas finished 14 of 23 through the air for 256 yards, two touchdowns, and one interception that was the result of a bobble. All in all, it was the second effective performance in a week from Thomas.

4. Kyshoen Jarrett, rover

In his first season as a starter, Jarrett has established himself as Tech's best open field tackler. Not only does he wrap up and bring the ball carrier down consistently, he is able to make some pretty solid contact on his tackles.

Jarrett recorded eight stops Saturday, tied for second on the team. He now has 50 tackles on the season, which puts him at No. 16 in the conference. Jarrett made numerous stops on Saturday in one-on-one situations, one of the areas that Virginia Tech's defense has largely been struggling in to date this season.

3. James Gayle, defensive end

It took until the second half, but once it happened there was no going back for the Duke offense. Virginia Tech's defensive line finally got going Saturday against the Blue Devils, which was a chore in itself as Duke was ranked 11th in the country in sacks allowed coming in. Once the Hokies got rolling, led by Gayle who paced the team with nine tackles and a sack on the day, it was almost like someone had unplugged the dam on the defensive line.

The group as a whole basically lived in the backfield for the second half and was very demonstrative in their body language about how excited they were about what they were doing. For defensive line coach Charley Wiles, it was a second half performance seven weeks in the making.

2. Marcus Davis, wide receiver

Davis' day ended prematurely when he landed awkwardly on his shoulder on his second touchdown catch of the day in the third quarter. However, before that he did some serious damage downfield for the Hokies.

Davis hauled in five passes for 144 yards on the day and proved time and time again that, when completely zeroed in, he is a mismatch downfield for just about any defensive back. Davis now has 27 catches, 585 yards, and four touchdowns this year, which is good enough for 38th overall in the country.

1. J.C. Coleman, running back

Coleman became the first Virginia Tech player to eclipse the 100-yard mark in a single game in 2012 and nearly became the first since Darren Evans in 2008 to pass the 200-yard mark. He finished with 183 yards on 13 carries, the most rushing yards ever by a true freshman at Virginia Tech.

Most of Coleman's yards came on two huge carries Saturday; the first was a lightning quick 45-yard sprint down the east sideline in Lane Stadium just as the second half began. Coleman got a great lead block from Joey Phillips on the edge and then exploded past the second level and into the end zone.

Coleman put the finishing touches on Duke's chances in the fourth when he took a carry and again headed toward Duke's sidelines. There he put his foot in the ground and exploded once more up the sideline, outrunning Duke's secondary for a huge breakaway touchdown. After his first touchdown, you could visibly see him energized as he ran harder and with more confidence than he has at any point this season. Look for Coleman to continue as the top back as the Hokies head to Clemson next Saturday.


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