The team took a different approach to this year's bowl game. More hitting, more film review, more time spent on the offensive and defensive scheme. However, all of that means nothing if the team comes out soft and listless again.
It's one thing to prepare like this game isn't just a reward. Acting like it's more than just a reward is completely different.
- Cincy cornerback Mike Mickens is expected to play in the Orange Bowl and I'm interested to see how he performs. With a healthy Mickens, the Bearcats are solid at stopping the pass. Without him, they are easier to exploit. Mickens injured his knee and missed Cincy's last three games.
- The Bearcats have a surprisingly good run defense and that combined with a new starter on the offensive line could make it difficult for the Hokies to get yards on the ground.
- However, the bigger concern with the retooled offensive line is pass blocking. It was weak to begin with, but now with one lineman changing his blocking patterns at a new position and a new starter, it could be a disaster. It will be up to Tyrod to buy himself time and pick up yards on the ground.
- I'd like to see the Hokies move the pocket with Tyrod to give him a better opportunity to find open receivers in passing situations. However, since we never do that, I doubt we'll see it now.
- The Bearcats have a solid and quick linebacking corps so I don't think we'll see a lot from the tight ends in the passing game.
- The guy, other than Darren Evans, who needs to have a big game for the Hokies is wide receiver Jarrett Boykin. The receivers finally started to come into their own late in the year and Tyrod can finally trust them to run the correct route on plays. Boykin's coming out party could be in the Orange Bowl.
- If the Hokies win the game, I think the MVP is going to have to be Tyrod.
- For the second consecutive Orange Bowl, the Hokies will be missing a starting linebacker. Last year, Vince Hall injured his knee while riding a wave runner prior to the game. This year, Brett Warren is out with a partially torn ACL. Warren is replaced by r-freshman Barquell Rivers, who will make his first career start and see his first significant time.
- Rivers is supposed to have a bright future and his specialty is stopping the run. Rivers will likely start at Warren's position next year as a sophomore, so this is good experience for him.
- Jason Worilds will miss the game due to his shoulder, which he hurt early in the year. Worilds has been the team's best pass rusher this year, but the drop off between Worilds and Nekos Brown is not nearly as steep as the one between Warren and Rivers. The problem will be if Brown or Orion Martin are injured during the game. The Hokies now have no depth at defensive end. Or at any position for that matter.
- The key for the Hokies on defense will be getting pressure on Tony Pike. Cincinnati is just like every other pass first spread offense. If you get pressure on the quarterback and disrupt the timing between him and the receivers, you will have no problem stopping them.
- Orion Martin hasn't been as noticeable to me the last few games of the season. I thought he wasn't having his best games at the beginning and end of 2008. He was outstanding the middle part of the schedule and the Hokies need him to return to that form and get to Pike. The less the Hokies have to blitz, the better against Cincy's spread formation.
- I expect this game to go similar to the first BC game when the Bearcats have the ball. Cincy will get theirs via big plays through the air. However, the Hokies will also get big plays on defense with sacks and turnovers. The team that wins will be the team that makes the most of its big plays.
- I expect a big game from Macho Harris. This is his last game and last chance to make a big impression on NFL scouts prior to the All Star games. Harris will do all he can on defense, offense and special teams to get this team a win.
- I think Cincinnati will score about 20 points in this game. The key will be whether or not the Hokies can score 21. With Tech's kicking game, which is just as good as Cincy's in my opinion, and turnover-creating defense, I think they will.
Watch the Box Score For:
1. Cincinnati turnovers
2. Virginia Tech rushing yards
3. Tony Pike QB rating
4. VT 3rd down percentage
VT Players to Watch:
5 - Tyrod Taylor, So., QB
32 - Darren Evans, Fr., RB
1 - Macho Harris, Sr., CB
90 - Orion Martin, Sr., DE
UC Players to Watch:
15 - Tony Pike, Jr., QB
16 - Dominick Goodman, Sr., WR
5 - Connor Barwin, Sr., DE
49 - Torry Cornett, Sr., LB
Final Score: Virginia Tech 23, Cincinnati 20