ACC: Tide-Hokies-083113



No. 1 Alabama handled Virginia Tech 35-10 in the Chick-fil-A Kickoff Game in Atlanta on Saturday. Here is a look at how the Tide won:

It was over when: Christion Jones returned his second kick for a touchdown to put Alabama ahead 28-10 late in the second quarter. Virginia Tech had just cut the lead to 21-10 with 3:39 to go before halftime. With the way their defense was playing, the last thing the Hokies needed was to give up another non-offensive score. But on the ensuing kickoff, Jones went 94 yards for the touchdown, putting the game out of reach.

Game ball goes to: Jones. In addition to the kickoff return for a TD in the second quarter, Jones returned a punt 54 yards for a touchdown to open the scoring -- making him the first player in Alabama history to score on two returns in one game. He then added a 38-yard touchdown reception in the third quarter -- the first time in his career he has scored three touchdowns in one game. In fact, Jones went into the game with five career touchdowns.

Stat of the game: 3. Virginia Tech gave up a kickoff return, a punt return and an interception return for a touchdown -- the first time that has happened under Coach Frank Beamer.

What Alabama learned: The Tide dominated on the scoreboard, but if there is one area the Tide must work on, it is the offensive line. There were concerns about the rebuilt line going into the game with three new starters. Alabama struggled at times to protect AJ McCarron and struggled to get the run game going consistently. To its credit, Virginia Tech is strong up front. But the Tide are going to have to do better than 2.5 yards per carry and 96 yards on the ground. You can bet this is going to be a big area of emphasis during practice this week.

What Virginia Tech learned: Its defense can be dominant, but that means nothing if its special teams and offense continue to be an Achilles' heel. Logan Thomas did not look any better than he did a year ago, going 5-of-26 for 59 yards and an interception, despite a new offensive coordinator. But once again, he had no help around him at receiver. The Hokies continued to drop catchable passes, a problem last year, as well. Special teams have deteriorated. This team still has major problems that have to be addressed.


BLACKSBURG, Va. -- The transformation of Virginia Tech quarterback Logan Thomas literally began from the ground up.

It started this past spring, with a focus on his legs, especially his footwork. Next was his upper body, then his throwing motion, and, finally, his eyes and how he read defenses. There was an emphasis on taking the proper drop with the proper rhythm to improve his accuracy. They were subtle changes -- like correcting a golf swing -- so that his upper and lower body are coordinated in one fluid motion.

"If you saw Logan earlier, he just was all off -- not using his legs to throw the ball," receiver D.J. Coles said. "Now, he's using his whole body. He's got more velocity."

They were small changes with the hope of one drastic result: reducing last season's 16 interceptions -- a number that has come to define Thomas' 2012 season, fair or not.

"I used to step away from my target, and that would cause my ball to float or dive into the dirt," Thomas said. "We've cleaned it up to where I step to my target, through my target, and everything is driven and way more accurate now. All of my receivers who were here before can definitely tell a difference. In the past three days of practice, they've said, 'You've been as accurate, and your ball has been as hard as it ever has before.' It's nice to go out there and just do what you want with the ball and not worry about where it's going to end up."

Like in the hands of Alabama's defense.

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