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November 7, 2013

Stanford shows his potential with big game versus BC

By: Jimmy Robertson

For a young man coming off the game of his life and playing not terribly far from his hometown across the border in Canada, Josh Stanford wasn’t in a particularly cheery mood.

The Canadian had just set career highs in receptions and yardage in one of the best performances by a Tech receiver in head coach Frank Beamer’s 27 seasons. He single-handedly torched Boston College’s secondary in the second half, accumulating more receiving yardage in 30 minutes than he had the first five games combined this season.

So why the glum face, eh?

“I’m bitter,” Stanford said. “We play for the W’s [wins]. I’ll take any game of the year where we got a W over this game. Offensively, we can’t turn the ball over. We’ve been coached that from day 1. Whenever you turn the ball over, it’s hard to win games. We had a lot of production on the offensive side of the ball. But we turned the ball over. We’ve got to get it corrected.”

Stanford caught six passes for 171 yards, but not even his terrific performance could overcome the Hokies’ four turnovers in a 34-27 loss to BC. The Eagles scored 17 points off Tech turnovers, returning an interception for a touchdown and twice taking over inside the Tech 20 and coming away with points (a touchdown and a field goal).

It marked Tech’s second straight game with four turnovers – and thus a second straight loss. Stanford may be a Canadian, but football isn’t played much differently north of the border than it is here in the States. Like all American football fans, he knows the quickest way to a loss in the sport.

“When you turn the ball over, it’s hard to win games,” he said. “That’s just how football is at any level.

“Turnovers equal losses.”

But good things can come out of a dispiriting loss, and Stanford’s performance was the best thing that came out of the Hokies’ loss. In fact, most fans expected this type of performance from him from the beginning of the season.

A year ago, Stanford was the rage of August. He learned quickly, and he caught everything in sight. He earned the right to play as a true freshman, and he played early before a knee injury sidelined him. The coaches held him out, and he ultimately received a medical hardship waiver.

For whatever reason, he got off to a slow start to this season. He dropped several passes in the early going, and he hadn’t morphed into that go-to receiver whom the Hokies desperately needed.

Until, that is, the BC game.

Stanford’s 171 yards marked the fourth-most by a Tech receiver under Beamer and tied for the fifth-most in school history. He made his catches count, too. All six came in the second half and none went for less than 16 yards. In fact, he caught passes of 69, 27 23, 18, 18 and 16 yards.

“Offensively, they [Tech’s coaches] saw some things they wanted to exploit on their [BC’s] defense,” Stanford said. “This game, it happened to be me. Next game, it’ll probably be someone else. The previous games, it was other guys. It’s a team thing and whatever we can do offensively against their defense. Whoever’s number is called, it’s all about production on the offensive side of the ball.”


Player Yardage Year Opponent
Ernest Wilford 279 2002 Syracuse
Ricky Scales 1972 213 Wake Forest
Antonio Freeman 194 1993 Temple
André Davis 172 1999 BC
Sidney Snell 171 1979 VMI
Josh Stanford 171 2013 BC

At 6-foot-1, 200 pounds, Stanford possesses the size to be a go-to receiver. He also possesses good hands, despite the early-season drops. As he becomes more familiar with Scot Loeffler’s offense, he figures to be a guy to watch going forward – both this season and in the coming years.

“I feel that I’m capable, and I think that all the other receivers are capable,” Stanford said. “Offensively and whatever matchup we’re trying to exploit, that guy is going to have the [big] game depending on what the scheme is. So it’s not really about me having games like this all the time. It’s about offensively executing whatever matchup it takes to win.”

That’s why he was disappointed after the BC game. He wasn’t thinking about his potential. To his credit, he was thinking about why his team didn’t win.

“I know I and the other guys have a chip on their shoulders,” he said. “We’re trying to do better this year.

“So to take losses when you’re trying to make up for last year … that’s the most frustrating thing.”