BLACKSBURG – Sitting in Virginia Tech's running backs meeting room early this week, David Wilson listened intently as running backs coach Shane Beamer detailed the first three plays Tech would run Saturday against Appalachian State.
Beamer told Wilson to expect the first carry in the game, which was all Wilson needed to hear prior to getting No. 13 Tech's 66-13 win started the right way.
"I told him I didn't have to hear the second play, because I was going to take it to the (end zone on the first play), but I didn't think it was really going to happen," Wilson said.
Wilson should've stuck with his original premonition, because it turns out he was right.
His 20-yard touchdown run on Tech's first play from scrimmage got the Hokies rolling in what quickly became a showcase for Wilson and quarterback Logan Thomas.
Wilson finished with 16 carries for 162 yards and a career-high three touchdowns in just over one half of play. Thomas, who was making his first career start, completed 9 of 19 passes for 149 yards and two touchdowns in 2 1/2 quarters on the field.
The duo helped Tech (1-0) amass 518 yards on the way to its second-largest point production in Frank Beamer's 25 seasons as coach. Tech's most points under Beamer came in 1995 in a 77-27 win against Akron. It was also the ninth-most points ever scored by a Tech team, and the second-most in a season-opener.
"I think we were well-prepared and we really played well, for the most part," said Beamer, whose team held a 52-0 lead early in the third quarter. "There's a lot of things to feel good about, but there are also a lot of things to learn from. That's going to be our challenge right now."
Though Wilson didn't have to handle much of a workload, he did plenty with his opportunities. He had carries of 12, 13, 17, 19, 20, 33 and 48 yards. His 19-yard run in the second quarter went for a touchdown, as did a 3-yard run in the quarter.
Thomas made a few plays that showed signs of what he could eventually offer the offense. He completed passes of 21 yards to D.J. Coles, 31 yards to Smithfield High graduate Dyrell Roberts and 55 yards to Marcus Davis.
Thomas' pass to Roberts was slightly underthrown. He was covered tightly by strong safety Troy Sanders, who was facing Roberts. Jumping and reaching over Sanders' helmet, Roberts hauled in the pass behind Sanders' head.
Davis' grab came on a third-and-9 play in which he got behind the defense for the catch, which came two plays after he dropped a pass that could've gone for a touchdown.
Thomas, who found Randall Dunn on a 7-yard touchdown pass in the second quarter and Jarrett Boykin on a 4-yard touchdown pass in the third quarter, also did some damage with his feet…and 6-foot-6, 242-pound frame.
On the last play of the first quarter, Thomas ran up the middle of the field for a 12-yard gain to Tech's 35-yard line, lowering his shoulder to plow over 6-foot-0, 200-pound free safety Patrick Blalock in the process.
"I think everybody kind of gets their anxiousness and jitters out after the first hit," Thomas said. "That was really my first hit of the day. It felt good just getting a little contact. I just felt like I got into a groove after my first hit."
Tech's defense never let Football Championship Subdivision power Appalachian State (0-1) come within striking distance of pulling off a monumental upset, like FCS opponent James Madison did last season in a 21-16 victory at Tech.
Wilson's first touchdown run came immediately after free safety Antone Exum recovered a fumble by Appalachian State quarterback DeAndre Presley on the second play of the game.
"I think that was a big start," Beamer said. "Their offense concerned us, and all of a sudden, we're blowing up the line, causing a fumble and then David Wilson makes a couple of really nice runs and we're on the board. That was a perfect way to start."
Presley entered the game after averaging 202 yards passing and 80 yards rushing per game last season, but he wasn't anywhere near as productive against Tech. He completed 7 of 18 passes for 89 yards and two interceptions, and ran for 43 yards.
Appalachian State, which had 293 yards, committed four turnovers. It didn't cross midfield until its seventh drive, which was early in the second quarter.
"We were disguising a lot," said Tech strong safety Eddie Whitley, who had an interception. "If they thought we were going to do man or zone or something like that, we might've been blitzing. They didn't know what was going on."