- Andrea Adelson, ESPN Staff Writer
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Not only was Virginia Tech running back J.C. Coleman the best player on the weekend in the ACC, he was the surprise player on the weekend in the ACC.
The Hokies went into their game against Duke really struggling in the run game, unable to find any consistency with David Wilson gone to the NFL. They had been averaging just 131.3 yards on the ground -- a far cry from the 186.9 yards they averaged last season to rank No. 2 in the ACC.
Coach Frank Beamer made the decision to give Coleman his first start, news that did not come out until just before game time. And the true freshman made the most of his huge opportunity, rushing for a career-high 183 yards and two scores on 13 carries en route to being selected ACC Rookie of the Week. His 45-yard run early in the third quarter gave Virginia Tech its first lead of the game; his 86-yard run in the fourth quarter sealed the 41-20 win.
Coleman became the first 100-yard rusher this season for the Hokies, and had the most rushing yards in a game by a true freshman under Beamer.
It was an incredible performance when you consider Michael Holmes led all rushers at Virginia Tech going into the game with 230 yards on the ground. That means in one game, Coleman had 41 yards fewer than Homes had in six games combined. That stat is not meant to call Holmes out in particular, but merely to show how tough it has been for Virginia Tech to get its ground game going.
After the game, Beamer said of Coleman: “We just needed something. And I thought J.C. was that guy today.”
Now the question remains: Can Coleman be "that guy" moving forward? He should have another opportunity for a big day Saturday against Clemson, which has had a tough time stopping the run this year. We will have to wait and see.
1dAndrea Adelson and Matt Fortuna