From The Sports Network
By Ralph Lauro, Associate College Football Editor
GAME NOTES: Coming off a heart-breaking loss, the 13th-ranked Virginia Tech Hokies now set their sights on the James Madison Dukes this weekend at Lane Stadium.
In the most anticipated game of the opening week, it was the Hokies who came up short, dropping a last-minute 33-30 decision to third-ranked Boise State at FedExField on Monday.
"I firmly believe we're going to be a good football team," Tech head coach Frank Beamer said. "We weren't a great football team tonight. We made too many critical mistakes, but I firmly believe we're going to be a good football team."
It marked the third straight season opening loss for the Hokies, who dropped to 1-26 all-time against AP Top-5 teams. Tech however, has shown it is capable of bouncing back, as the Hokies are one of only two FBS schools to have won 10 or more games in each of the past six seasons. That is certainly reason to believe this squad can overcome another opening week setback.
As for JMU, it is a Top 25 FCS program walking into what could be a nightmare of a situation with Tech seeking to take out its frustrations. The Dukes though, were impressive in their opener, posting a 48-7 win over Morehead State last weekend to improved to 7-5 in lidlifters under head coach Mickey Matthews. The program however, is just 3-15 against FBS members and that includes 10 straight defeats.
This is the seventh all-time meeting between JMU and Virginia Tech on the gridiron, with the Hokies winning each of the prior six, including a 43-0 blanking in the most recent clash in 2003.
The Dukes had their way with Morehead State over the weekend, dialing up 483 yards of total offense, including 294 and four scores on the ground. JMU used a plethora of runners to dominate on the ground, with Jordan Anderson and Griff Yancey racking up a team-high 66 yards apiece.
QB Drew Dudzik accounted for half of the team's rushing TDs, while also throwing for two more scores and 189 yards on 8-of-15 tosses. Dudzik emerged as the starter this spring and was successful in his return after missing the final six games of '09 with a foot fracture. His main target was Kerby Long, who enjoyed a career day with 112 receiving yards and two TDs on three receptions.
JMU was every bit as impressive on defense and the unit didn't surrender a point to Morehead State until the final three minutes of the game. The unit held Morehead State to only 152 total yards, including just 67 rushing, while forcing five turnovers. What was even more impressive was the mere six first downs given up by this unit. Ryan Smith had five tackles and one of the team's two INTs to lead the defense in the win.
The Hokies were sloppy on offense at times and never really establish their dynamic ground attack, which averaged 208.2 ypg in '09. VT finishing the night with 128 yards, but it took 44 carries to reach that number, an average of just 2.9 yards per carry.
TB Ryan Williams scored two TDs on the ground and another through the air, but ended up with just 44 rushing yards on 21 carries. It was obviously a tough night running the ball for Williams, who set a school record with 1,655 rushing yards as a freshman in '09.
"We've got to look at the film and figure out what was going on," Williams said of the rushing attack. "All I know was there were a lot of times when I got the ball and there were defenders in my face."
QB Tyrod Taylor actually led the team with 73 rushing yards, as he used his legs to avoid consistent pressure. The dual-threat gunslinger also hit on 15- of-22 pass attempts for 186 yards and two TDs in a solid all-around performance. Jarrett Boykin was his favorite target with six receptions for 102 yards and a score.
Defensively, Tech wasn't all that bad, but the unit didn't step up when it was needed. Leading 30-26 late in the fourth quarter, the Hokies allowed Boise State to march 56 yards in just 38 seconds, with the driving ending on a 13- yard game-winning TD pass with just over a minute left. It was a big letdown from the unit, which was gashed for a 71-yard TD run by Boise State in the third quarter.
Aside from that, the unit did a decent job limiting a stout Boise State attack to 383 total yards. Eddie Whitley had seven stops and a forced fumble for the Tech defense, which may need some time to gel after losing a chunk of last year's starters from a unit that gave up just 15.6 ppg.
The Hokies are the clear choice here, and they should be able to get more going on the ground while their defense comes through with a better effort.