- - Wednesday, September 21, 2011

BLACKSBURG, Va. — David Wilson’s first game against Marshall was an afternoon he said he will always remember. In the second game of his true freshman season in 2009, he not only got his first collegiate carry, but ran 12 times for a career-high 165 yards.

The game itself was unremarkable, a 52-10 Virginia Tech win over a team that stood little chance. But that was the Lane Stadium crowd’s first glimpse of Wilson’s prodigious athleticism, and anyone could see that Wilson’s physical talents alone would make him a successful college football player.

He has become well-rounded since then, improving at the less-obvious things such as blocking and route running. And that should make Tech’s offense productive this year, even as opponents dare new quarterback Logan Thomas to beat them with his arm, which is less of a proven commodity than Wilson’s legs.

In Saturday’s 26-7 win over Arkansas State, the Red Wolves crowded players around the line of scrimmage to prevent Wilson from breaking loose. He had 20 carries for 85 yards after rushing for 299 yards in the first two games combined. Thomas capitalized on his receivers frequently facing one-on-one coverage by throwing for 292 yards.

Regardless of whether Marshall copies Arkansas State’s defensive approach in Saturday’s game against Tech, Wilson knows there is a good chance other defenses will focus primarily on stopping him.

For the Hokies to succeed against that kind of defense, Wilson must show he has mastered the parts of playing running back that don’t involve taking a handoff and hitting a hole. There will be times when he must stay in the backfield and block.

“Teams would like to be able to bring pressure, keep David in the backfield [to block] and not allow him to get out [into open space],” Beamer said. “We’ve got to devise ways to get him out and still be able to pick up pressure.”

That could mean rolling him out of the backfield and using him as a decoy, to draw linebackers away from pursuing Thomas while he looks downfield for receivers. Or if Thomas can connect on deep passes, like he did Saturday, Beamer expects defenses having to respect that, which he thinks could open up shorter passes to Wilson.

Beamer envisioned this happening when he saw Florida running back Chris Rainey slip out of the backfield Saturday against Tennessee, catch a pass over the middle and sprint toward the end zone for an 83-yard touchdown that helped the Gators win 33-23.

David’s that guy - OK, if you want to take away the deep ball, we’ll throw it to him 5 yards downfield and let him operate in space,” Beamer said. “And we need to be able to do that. Logan knows that.”

Read Darryl Slater’s blog at VTEffect.com

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