Bluefield Daily Telegraph, Bluefield, WV

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September 27, 2012

Hokies gearing up to stop Cincinnati’s Legaux

BLACKSBURG, Va. — Virginia Tech’s defense goes up against a powerful dual-threat quarterback every day in practice, but 6-foot-6 Logan Thomas is by now running an offense that the defense knows backwards and forwards.

The Hokies (3-1) won’t have that luxury on Saturday when they play Cincinnati (2-0) at FedEx Field in Landover, Md. Bearcats quarterback Munchie Legaux is 6-5 and 200 pounds, and he runs very well.

The Hokies hope to put a stop to that quick with some calling card tackles.

“We always want to punish quarterbacks who try to run the ball,” Hokies linebacker Bruce Taylor said with a sly smile. “That goes back to trying to make a team one-dimensional. I feel like as a coach, if you see a quarterback out there constantly (getting hit), that’s your quarterback, you don’t want him beat up.

“You’re going to start handing that ball to someone else or you’re going to start passing.”

Taylor and Co. anticipate a challenge trying to make that happen against Legaux, who has averaged 10 yards per carry through two games. More than half his yardage came on a 77-yard run against Pittsburgh, which inflates his average for 14 carries, but also highlights how dangerous he can be with his legs.

Besides hitting him hard, the Hokies hope to shut down his running lanes.

“You have to attack those guys, guys that are really good in the open field and can kind of make you miss,” cornerback Antone Exum said. “You’ve got to attack those guys and keep them in a box, keep them in a phone booth so to speak so they have less room to try to make you miss.”

But Legaux is not just a runner. He’s completing 62 percent of his passes with four scoring throws and two interceptions, and Hokies coach Frank Beamer said he “gets it from point A to point B quickly.”

The Hokies intend to be ready for everything.

“If you’re that pocket guy and you’re real good, I want to pick you off or get a sack on you. If you’re a mobile guy, ... I want you to keep it and try to hit the edge and me make a play,” Taylor said.

The Bearcats are coming off a bye week, and worked on ball security all last week. They had six turnovers in a 23-7 victory against Delaware State, with Legaux fumbling twice and throwing two picks.

Legaux thinks he’s taken care of the problem.

“I’m where I need to be. I learned from my mistakes,” the junior said this week. “I know I had some turnovers that wasn’t supposed to happen, some throws that wasn’t there that I tried to force. This week I felt I had a good practice in the bye week and also getting around my teammates and telling those guys to keep trusting in me, keep believing in me and everything else will take care of itself.”

Only the game will tell if the problem is solved, but coach Butch Jones applauded his effort.

“I’ve seen him more determined than ever, and again I said it when the season began, you are going to see every week is going to be a growth process for Munchie,” Jones said. “Every opportunity that he takes at the quarterback position is an opportunity for him to improve whether it’s in practice or in a game.”

Thomas, meanwhile, presents a bigger challenge for the Bearcats. At 260 pounds, he outweighs all but two starters on their defense, and his 65 rushing yards against Bowling Green seemed to help significantly as the Hokies finally got their ground game untracked, picking up a season-high 246 yards.

Being able to hang onto the ball on Saturday would minimize Legaux’s impact, too.

“For us to be as good as we can, I have to be able to run the ball as well, have to tuck it down and get first downs when I need to, when I have to,” Thomas said. “So in general, I think it will help us out a whole bunch when I do run the ball and hopefully it will keep us going in a first down direction.”

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