Sun Bowl Preview: Hokies vs. UCLA

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The Sun Bowl seems to have snuck up on us all, but tomorrow afternoon the Hokies will be playing #17 UCLA in El Paso.  The Bruins are 9-3 on the season, they have a lot of talented young players on their roster, and they are a rising program on the national scene.

UCLA is 9-3 this season, with their only losses coming to Stanford (24-10), Oregon (42-14) and Arizona State (38-33).  They rallied from a 21-3 deficit to beat Nebraska 41-21 on the road, they beat a 9-4 Washington team, and they blew out LA rival USC 35-14 in their final game of the season.  This is a good football team that has won four of their last five, and they will be looking to use the Sun Bowl as a springboard for a possible top 10 preseason ranking in 2014.  Jim Mora, Jr. has the Bruins heading in the right direction.

It would be a big win for Tech if they can pull this one off.  9-4 sounds a lot better than 8-5, to me at least.  Do the Hokies have a shot?  Read on…

The UCLA Offense

If I had to use one word to describe the UCLA offense, it would be “balanced.”

Rushing: #36
Passing: #44
Total: #37
Scoring: #23
Pass Efficiency: #14
Third downs: #10

This is a team that can run it and throw it efficiently, and they do a terrific job on third downs.  Though the offense as a whole is young, they are very talented, and they are the reason UCLA will be a Pac-12 favorite next season.

The offense revolves around quarterback Brett Hundley (6-3, 222, r-So.).  Hundley leads the team in passing and rushing, and he is easily the most important player on this UCLA team.  Here’s a look at his stats for the season:

Passing: 232 -of-342 (67.8%) for 2,845 yards, 22 touchdowns and 9 interceptions, 153.7 eff.
Rushing: 150 carries for 587 yards, 3.9 ypc, 9 TD

Despite being sacked 34 times this year, Hundley still led the team in rushing and still managed to average 3.9 yards per carry.  That’s very impressive.  Bud Foster says Hundley reminds him of Donovan McNabb at Syracuse, and I think that’s a fair comparison.  He’s pretty advanced for a r-sophomore, and he’s got an excellent arm.  He is going to be one of the top quarterbacks selected in the NFL Draft in either 2015 or 2016.

Hundley has help from a group of skilled players around him.

WR Shaq Evans (6-1, 204, r-Sr.): 43 catches, 617 yards, 14.3 ypc, 8 TDs
WR Devin Fuller (5-11, 195, So.): 42 catches, 464 yards, 11 ypc, 6 TDs
WR Jordan Payton (6-1, 212, So.): 36 catches, 416 yards, 11.6 ypc, 1 TD
WR Devin Lucien (6-0, 195, r-So.): 17 catches, 298 yards, 17.5 ypc, 2 TDs
WR Darius Bell (5-11, 210, r-Sr.): 16 catches, 159 yards, 9.9 ypc, 0 TD
WR Thomas Duarte (6-3, 221, Fr.): 15 catches, 206 yards, 13.7 ypc, 2 TDs
WR Grayson Mazzone (5-8, 195, r-Sr.): 12 catches, 173 yards, 14.4 ypc, 0 TD

That’s obviously a lot of targets at wide receiver, and like Brett Hundley, many of them are young.  I’m sure UCLA fans are very excited about the future of this offense, particularly when we look at the youth at the other positions as well.

RB Paul Perkins (5-10, 195, r-Fr.): 126 carries, 570 yards, 4.5 ypc, 5 TD, 23 catches, 283 yards
RB Jordon James (5-9, 194, r-Jr.): 96 carries, 525 yards, 5.5 ypc, 5 TD
RB Myles Jack (6-1, 225, Fr.): 37 carries, 269 yards, 7.2 ypc, 7 TD
RB Malcolm Jones (6-0, 224, Sr.): 51 carries, 247 yards, 4.8 ypc, 3 TD

The Bruins find a way to get four different running backs involved, including freshman phenom Myles Jack.  Jack also starts at outside linebacker for UCLA, and he was named Pac-12 Offensive and Defensive Rookie of the Year. He’s a very dynamic athlete…overall, the best athlete on the field on Tuesday.

To get an idea of Jack’s versatility, click here.  He is obviously capable of making an impact on offense, defense and special teams, and the Hokies will have to account for him at all times.

Obviously the Bruins have a lot of talent – yet a lot of youth – at the skill positions.  It’s the same story up front.  Here’s a look at the UCLA offensive line, which is Virginia Tech’s key to victory.

LT Xavier Su’a-Filo (6-3, 305, Jr.)
LG Scott Quessenberry (6-3, 288, Fr.)
C Jake Brendel (6-4, 285, r-So.)
RG Alex Redmond (6-5, 305, Fr.)
RT Caleb Benenoch (6-5, 320, Fr.)

It’s very, very rare that you see a major college football team starting three true freshmen on the offensive line.  It’s even rarer that a team that starts three true freshmen on the offensive line manages to win nine games and run a balanced offense!  These UCLA freshmen are good.

That said, they still play like freshmen at times.  The Bruins are #112 in the country in tackles for loss allowed, and #105 in sacks allowed.  They’ll be facing a Tech defense that is #13 nationally in tackles for loss and #5 in sacks.  The Hokies play in the backfield a lot, and that’s the weakness of the UCLA offense.  That’s a good matchup for Tech that I feel like nobody is talking about.  If VT wins the game, that will be the reason most likely.

Offensive coordinator Noel Mazzone (previous stints as OC at NC State, Ole Miss, Arizona State, Auburn and Oregon State) has done a very good job with this offense this season, despite the youth.  It will looks similar to Virginia Tech’s offense in terms of plays and formations, and they will run their share of read option.

Because of UCLA’s youth, and the talent level of the Virginia Tech defense, I do think Bud Foster’s unit will play well tomorrow.  That’s the least of my concerns.  My biggest concern is, well, you know…

The UCLA Defense

Statistically, UCLA’s defense hasn’t been as good as their offense…

Rushing: #74
Passing: #46
Total: #55
Scoring: #37
Pass efficiency defense: #59
Third down defense: #40

The Bruins have had trouble stopping the run, and that would normally be a good sign except for the fact that the Hokies are without their best running back and they’ve struggled to run the ball for most of the season.

UCLA plays a 3-4 defense that can obviously also show 4-3 looks, and they’ll bring to El Paso the best pass rusher the Hokies have faced this season.  Outside linebacker Anthony Barr (6-4, 248, Sr.) had 20 tackles for loss and 10 sacks on the season, and he also forced five fumbles.  This guy is a major playmaker, and he’ll be facing true freshman left tackle Jonathan McLaughlin.  Expect Tech to double him with other true freshmen such as tight end Kalvin Cline and fullback Sam Rogers.  That’s a major mismatch in UCLA’s favor, and there isn’t a heck of a lot Scot Loeffler can do about it except throw a wave of true freshmen at the guy who is expected to be top 10 pick in the 2014 NFL Draft.  Logan Thomas should perhaps consider growing eyes in the back of his head overnight.

Here’s how the front seven looks…

LDE Ellis McCarthy (6-4, 330, So.): 8 starts, 4 TFL, 2 sacks
NT Seali’I Epenesa (6-1, 310, Sr.): 7 starts, 1 sack
RDE Cassius Marsh (6-4, 260, Sr.): 11 starts, 10.5 TFL, 6 sacks
LOLB Myles Jack (6-1, 225, Fr.): 11 starts, 70 tackles, 5 TFL, 11 passes defended
ILB Jordan Zumwalt (6-4, 235, Sr.): 12 starts, 83 tackles, 5.5 TFL
ILB Eric Kendricks (6-0, 228, r-Jr.): 11 starts, 106 tackles, 4 TFL, 2 sacks
ROLB Anthony Barr (6-4, 248, Sr.): 12 starts, 20 TFL, 10 sacks

A big issue is that UCLA will load the left side of Tech’s offensive line up with their All-American linebacker Anthony Barr and their best defensive lineman Cassius Marsh.  Those guys combined for 30.5 TFL and 16 sacks on the season.  They are going to be a very tough task for Jonathan McLaughlin, Caleb Farris, and at times Kalvin Cline and Sam Rogers, or whoever else draws the unfortunate assignment.  Quick hitting plays will be Tech’s best bet in this game I believe, because I don’t think Logan Thomas will have a lot of time to throw because of the type of pass rush he’ll be facing from his blindside.

I do believe the Hokies could have some success running against this front if they had Trey Edmunds, but unfortunately he’s out with a broken leg.  Sophomore J.C. Coleman will get the start, but it sounds as of true freshman Jerome Wright (6-2, 221) will get a lot of work.  The Tech coaches really want to see what he can do.  He had no carries and just three catches as Sam Rogers’ backup at fullback this season.  He played all of 14 offensive plays and 59 special teams plays in 12 games.  Considering the Tech coaches are talking a lot about playing him in the Sun Bowl, it makes me wonder what they really think about Chris Mangus and Joel Caleb at tailback (but I’ll save that article for another day).

UCLA’s secondary looks like this:

CB Fabian Moreau (6-0, 193, So.): 11 starts, 4 passes defended
CB Ishmael Adams (5-8, 190, So.): 12 starts, 4 interceptions
S Anthony Jefferson (6-1, 185, r-Jr.): 12 starts, 82 tackles, 2 interceptions
S Randall Goforth (5-10, 190, So.): 12 starts, 3 interceptions

With three true sophomores in the secondary, I do believe the Hokies can have some success in the passing game if they can keep the pass rush of Anthony Barr and Cassius Marsh off Logan Thomas.  However, that’s one big if.

On the whole, I believe this UCLA defense is very attack-able, but I don’t think Tech has the horses to attack it.  I think the Bruins will come right after the Tech offense with a bunch of blitzes and try to get the Hokies in long yardage situations.  In the end, I see a Tech offense that will struggle to move the ball, sustain drives, and score.

Special Teams

Shudder.  All I need to do is type two sentences to show you why special teams make me shudder in this game…

UCLA is #5 in the country in kickoff returns, and Virginia Tech is #71 in kickoff return defense.  UCLA is #43 in the country in punt returns, and Tech is #110 in the country in punt return defense.  Ouch!  However, their punt return number is deceiving.  Shaq Evans has 16 of UCLA’s 23 returns, and he averages just 7.2 yards per return.  That being said, the big worry isn’t Evans or anyone else the Bruins can throw on the field.  The big worry is Virginia Tech’s punt coverage personnel.

Kaim Fairbairn (5-11, 185, So.) is a solid placekicker who went 14-of-20 with a long of 48 yards this season.  He’s not a world beater, but Frank Beamer will use Michael Branthover as his placekicker in this game.  Branthover will be Tech’s fourth starting kicker this season (say it with me, all at once…Thanks, Journell!), and he has never attempted a field goal in a college game.

Because of UCLA’s major advantage in the return game, plus the fact that Tech is very much unproven at kicker, you have to give the Bruins the advantage on special teams.  If the Hokies manage to break even on special teams, I’ll consider that a victory.

Final Thoughts

I don’t like how this game sets up.  It reminds of the Gator Bowl against Tennessee at the end of the 1994 season.  UCLA is a rising program with a good, young quarterback that could begin next season ranked in the top 10 and challenge for the Pac-12 title.  I believe this Sun Bowl matchup is being viewed by them as a springboard to bigger and better things next season.  They know Jim Mora, Jr. has them moving in the right direction.  They are a program on the rise under a veteran, energetic NFL coach.

Meanwhile, the Hokies are a program with an aging head coach, and his future retirement is something that is being discussed more and more by Tech fans.  The program has leveled off to a certain extent, the talent level on offense is down, and it appears it’s going to take 2-3 years to rebuild it.  Tech fans are NOT excited about this bowl game either…I know that because it’s the day before the game, and I haven’t gotten one single email asking why our preview hasn’t been posted yet!

I just think that all the momentum is in UCLA’s favor right now.  I do like the matchup of the Tech front seven against the young Bruin offensive line, and if the Hokies win, I think we’ll be able to point to that matchup as a big reason.  If Tech can get the UCLA offense in long yardage situation, they’ll have a chance.

However, I just don’t see Tech scoring much, particularly without their best running back.  When I look at UCLA, I see a team with more overall athletes and more overall playmakers on offense, not to mention a team that is way better on special teams.  Even if the Tech defense plays a great football game, it would be really hard to pick Tech to win this game.

Prediction: UCLA 27, Virginia Tech 10

Will Stewart’s Take: I don’t like the way this one is shaping up at all. UCLA is a young team on the rise … really on the rise, not UVA-on-the-rise … with a lot to prove and looking to make a name for themselves. They have a lot of upward momentum, whereas the Hokies are a team that is 15-10 in the last two seasons, struggling greatly on offense, and in rebuilding mode.

VT has gone up against highly rated PAC 12 QBs in bowl games before. Cal and Aaron Rodgers shredded VT for 52 points in 2003, and Andrew Luck and Stanford hung 40 on the Hokies in 2010. That’s an average of 46 points. Both QBs used bowl victories over Virginia Tech as springboards to great final college seasons; Rodgers’ Cal squad went 10-2 in 2004, and Luck’s Stanford team went 11-2 in 2011. The Hokies caught both guys and their teams on the way up and paid for it, and they’re catching Hundley and the Bruins on the way up.

The Hokies will counter with an offense that typically performs below its season average in bowl games — and that’s scary, considering how much the Hokie offense has struggled this season. Tech needed overtime to score 13 on Rutgers last season; failing to break 20, with Trey Edmunds out, is a distinct possibility.

Virginia Tech is down its best rusher (Trey Edmunds), will get just limited contributions if any from their best defensive player (Kyle Fuller), is starting a new placekicker, and is badly outmatched in the return game.

If Virginia Tech wins this game, it will be because the defensive coaching staff and players prepare and execute a great game plan, and because Scot Loeffler is much better at preparing an offensive game plan than his predecessor. But if VT doesn’t show any improvement or life on offense, and if the defense doesn’t pull a Herculean effort out of the hat, this game won’t be close.

Will’s Prediction: UCLA 30, Virginia Tech 13

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67 Responses You are logged in as Test

  1. Chris and Will – You guys do an excellent job covering Hokie football. Keep up the great work. Some readers apparently only want to read articles if you talk about how great the Hokies are and predict a 42 – 7 win. I appreciate your honest opinions and assessments. Please don’t chance anything for the minority who only want to read cheer leading articles.

    1. Haha, thanks, but I’m seriously thinking about taking the score predictions out of articles next season. If you pick Tech to win, nobody cares. But when you actually have the gall to pick them to lose, people get pissed and even some threaten to not renew. I’m not sure it’s worth it. In the end, predictions aren’t worth the paper they are printed on anyway, and they aren’t even an important part of a “preview” article to be quite honest.

      1. Taking the score predictions out of the articles is a excellent idea.
        As for the bowl game, I am mostly interested in seeing how the new coaching staff prepares for a bowl game they are supposed to lose. Do the coaches put in some new “wrinkles” just for this game or do they simply count on Bud’s defense to keep the score low and hope that UCLA makes a few critical mistakes that might lead to points for the good guys.
        I am hoping to see the team go all-in to being less predictable. Throw in a few reverses, go for it on 4 down, and especially be very aggressive in the red zone.

  2. You guys are way too negative. You make it sound like we go into this battle unarmed. Glad you picked the Bruins. Seldom do we win the big games if we are favored. Did anybody pick us to win GA Tech or Miami going in? This article was completely silent on our plusses, its like this team and the coaches have been written off. I take exception, and if this is typical of the fans, then shame on our fans. The last article you were picking the new coach. last I heard the coach position is not open. I sincerely hope the team and the coaches are not reading this crap, they have better things to do. Go Hokies

    1. 1330019Hokie … what you are complaining about is exactly why i dropped my paid membership. I recall a recent article that said CFB is the only college coach with 200+ wins. And, he’s done it the right way. Look at his teams graduation rate and he does not seem to use recruiting practices that gets other universities in deep trouble.

    2. The article was spot on. These guys tell it like it is and there is a reason the article is short on ‘plusses’. This team lost to Maryland, that had more or less half a team, then struggled with a UVA team that should have been 1-11.

    3. I think I remember noting that our big strength was our front seven on defense, and that it matches up well with UCLA’s biggest weakness, their OL. So I was not “completely silent” on VT’s plusses. And the reason I went over other coaches in that Q&A is because I was asked to by a TSL subscriber.

    4. Well, we lost by 30, so maybe you should admit that Will and CC might just know what they’re talking about. Are you the type to admit to your mistakes, or do you prefer to just sit back and criticize? I’d tell you my guess, but I wouldn’t want to make a prediction you disagree with, no matter how accurate it ends up being.

      -Alpha ’99

  3. I think our D will do well as long as they contain Hundley from running everywhere. That’s been our biggest weakness on D this year is any type of mobile quarterback. If we spy him we might be able to keep the score low. The offense on the other hand…I’m not sure if they will be able to score that much. With Edmunds out I just don’t see it unless LT and the WR’s are just on fire and getting a lot of YAC’s. If that happens, D gets some turnovers and possibly scores I can see us winning. Otherwise I think UCLA takes this one. Plus we won the bowl game last year so we are due to lose. I don’t know when the last time we won two bowl games in a row was.

  4. Good Write up on the game , I agree with you and Will on the outcome today. One last question , When is the Spring Game ? That’s the one I looking for and the Roster card for it. 2014 can’t get here quick enough …

  5. Boy am I glad you guys didn’t pick Tech to win. Now at least I know we have a chance! Just jokin. Seriously though Hokies, it’s been a long time since the pre-game mood for a bowl has been this pessimistic… If in fact it ever HAS been this low. This is unfamiliar territory for us and I’m not sure what to make of it. The only bright spot seems to be that change IS coming next year and a lot of new faces will begin to emerge. Plus it seems that our new coaches are having a positive impact on recruiting. I wouldn’t use this game as a barometer for their future success except for maybe seeing how Loeffler’s early game plan goes and how mentally prepared the guys look. Because we do NOT want to see this one start off like last years bowl!

  6. Duke, Maryland and BC, that’s what I tell Myself when I have a notion to be Optimistic about this game. Just real bad games all, and now We don’t even have a Running Back that would scare a High School AAA team in this state.

  7. I predict UCLA 27-10. Bud’s Defense keeps us in the game, and Branthover makes 1 of 3 Field Goals maybe-He was a Disaster at Punter-and apparently all We got at Placekicker-thanks to Journell. Our stinko Offense will suck all the air out of the Announcers, whatever rich Hokies that show up, as We will have 3 to possibly 7 Points in the middle of the 3rd Quarter, and then make a brief charge. Logan Thomas will try to do everything his last Game as a Hokie-Bless him. He’ll be Heroic in a bad Game. The Lethargic effort by Tech early on will once again perplex us all. Yes, UCLA aint that good, but the Tech team that lost to Duke, Maryland, and BC will shame us once again. It will be a very boring Game, other than freak plays by UCLA. Beamer will praise his team’s effort, and probably kick off a Player shortly before Game Time-it always happens.

  8. I’m not a glass half full type of person. I always try to be as positive as I can. Just not getting a very positive feeling about this game. Hope I am wrong.

  9. Living in Omaha, I have seen UCLA a bit this year being about 1/2 way there from VA. My terse assessment is Hundley is all world, but their O-Line stinks at protecting him. He takes care of the ball and reminds me of our QBs over the years running for their lives and doing the same. IF we can get him to turn it over and/or sack vs. let him scramble, we do win this one. They have not seen a defense like ours. Pac-12 really doesn’t have much in the way of a defensive emphasis. However, if we blitz and he takes care of ball and scrambles for yards, long day ahead. I am at least a little optimistic for the former. I’ll call the Hokies for the win here 21-17.


  10. Great article as usual, but I simply don’t buy the UCLA hype. Its very Miami-esque.

    Their best win was over USC (currently ranked #25) and they lost every other big game on their schedule (Stanford, Oregon, Arizona St). The Stanford and Oregon games weren’t even close. I think their offensive numbers are inflated because they play in the chronically soft PAC-10.

    My prediction: The Hokie defense will be more than up for the challenge and this will be a low scoring affair. The Hokie offense will struggle at times, but will score just enough to keep them in the game. Logan Thomas has a great game in his finale and VT wins 20-17.

  11. I disagree on several parts, and am not one that is usually half full when it comes to optimism about this team. Our offense has shown moments of improvement and flashes of breakout wrs and Kline at TE on the verge. I don’t understand why we are so worried about Edmunds out… we stink running the ball…period.

    Edmunds out would mean to me, and I am not the O-coordinator, that I woukd use screens to the rb and wheel routes out of the backfield as the running game portions on early downs. Our little mighty mouse back there could be a great Sproles type player if we start using him that way, and how much woukd it help our below avg o-line and our bad WRs and Qb inconsistency.

    UCLA has not seen this defense. We will be really good and shut them down and create turnovers. I see this day going to the Hokies. And every Hokie I know is super excited to be playing someone from a different conference, in a different place, with us as underdogs

    My non-optimistic personality has the Hokies pulling the upset.

    VT 27. UCLA 17. LT finishes on a high note. This team has been inconsistent, but also has not had a complete game outside of the Miami game. We were underdogs, on the road, vs a ranked team. The new Hokies stink at home, show up on the road. We are winning this one. Go Hokies!!

    1. Because Edmunds at least gives us a CHANCE to run the football… He wasn’t great, but he was BY FAR the best we had (and he was improving).

  12. Chris, thanks for the analysis. I try to stop by the site at least once a day to get excellent coverage of all things VT and its the only place I can do that. Analysis, insight and explanations are great.

    1. No roster card this week, sorry. Christmas falling in the middle of the week and Will being out of town nixed the roster card.

  13. Havent seen the Jim Mora group play but twice this year. He was the worst NFL coach in the league 4 years ago and ended up coaching a high school team in Washington or the equal.His ass was run out of Atlanta on a rail and he ruined MV1 while the Falcons coach. He has great young talent and VT has GREAT coaches-UCLA does not.In the end, we will find out which trumps the other. Bud F may surprise if he can hit Hundley on every play, who is like Pussy Boy McCarron-he doesnt like to get hit. I think we surprise them with our ability to play defense ,which is NOT played in the Pac 12 but lose in a nail biter…..however, LT will have a big day throwing and running

  14. Good Job Chris. A sizable part of our fan base seems to be losing it. Sorry for the carping and complaining.
    We need some good karma…. The kind of karma a big upset victory would provide. As a matter of fact, let’s start a new trend in El Paso of winning big games.
    We’ve made some offensive changes. The upcoming recruiting class is one of our best ever. Let the fair weather fans be damned.

  15. Keep up the good work Chris, although your game previews are usually a little more in depth. I will continue to renew. I really like this incoming class of recruits which should give us all reason to be optimistic.

    1. Thanks. And yeah, they are, but the big thing is I know nothing about UCLA’s personnel. The main guys are obviously easy to cover, but I can’t go in depth on them like I can UNC, UVA, FSU, etc. because I just don’t know the personnel of those west coast teams. So instead of saying something that might not be true, I just say nothing at all 🙂

  16. A very objective and balanced article. I am renewing with pleasure. Great work all year long. Number 1 source for VT athletics.

  17. Nice analysis Chris. I sure don’t know what put a burr under the saddles of a couple of posters. They must be Wahoo plants, out to sow discord and disinformation. I think TSL does a fine job of providing in-depth objective coverage, although some subscribers don’t like anything but cheerleading. Go to HokieSports for that.

    Bud has had a month to prepare for UCLA. He’ll have the defense ready. I’m hoping we rise to the occasion tomorrow on both sides of the ball, get a couple of breaks, and pull off a nice upset 🙂

    By the way, I was getting ready to send an e-mail asking about the preview when I refreshed my browser and there it was!

    Happy New Year to all !!

  18. Chris and Will,
    I will say that about 90% of the time or more I really appreciate the effort put into the articles and material on the site. This is one of the other 10% or so. IMHO, I feel that the coverage of this bowl game was mostly putting links from the newspapers. Maybe the reality is different, but that is the “feel” I get from reading the information. This is the first time I have really felt that since you weren’t really all that interested in the game, you allowed that to influence how you covered it. I am a little disappointed quite frankly. I would have seen this as a chance to generate some “buzz” for all the readers that couldn’t go in person, but maybe that wasn’t possible. I think we can safely say that the only game that generated less interest was the “Diamond Bowl” in San Francisco, and at least that one was in a city that had some “pizazz” .
    I guess this is the point that we stop calling ourselves a fan base “that travels well”. “They” say all things change, I really hope that the quality of what you guys do isn’t one of them. The coverage of the Sun Bowl feels like Techsidleline had 4 turnover/3 sack game. I am confident you will perform better “next game”……………..

    1. I have to agree with Pilot on this one. I have also been disappointed in your lack of coverage on this bowl game. I looked every day for the preview, but didn’t e-mail you in an effort not to add to your workload. And then you use that example as no one cares?????? That’s really poor. Not to mention not even including the roster card. I know you’ll rebound from this, but I am really disappoonted in your efforts on this. It won’t cause me to not renew, but I would ask you to ask yourself if we got your best effort?

      1. I spent a lot the last couple of weeks working on a huge offensive line series that will start up after the New Year, rather than previewing a team that I’ve never watched play. Ultimately everyone will get more out of the OL stuff than a bowl preview (I hope). Previewing Pac-12 teams is not a strength of mine. I bet I watched two Pac-12 games all year. All I can do for the most part is look at the stats and tell you what I think will happen, which is what most of this preview is. So instead, I chose to focus on something I’m good at.

        1. Once UCLA was announced as our bowl opponent you could’ve loaded up and replayed their last few games to get a feel for their team’s strengths and weaknesses. (replays expire after 30 days so that’s not possible to do now).

          Looking forward to reading the articles about the OL, but would’ve liked to read more about UCLA this past month.

  19. Chris, hasn’t Caleb been hurt most of the last half of the season? Which leaves Wright as the only real option for a bigger back. I like Mangus a lot, in fact he impresses me more than Coleman in the limited opportunities he’s had. But he’s definitely not a bigger back.

  20. Thanks for an honest assessment, Chris. Sounds reasonable to me. For those bailing on … good luck keeping up with Tech sports without the tremendous info conveyed by this website. Would be much less interesting without these fantastic behind the scenes analyses.

  21. Despite UCLA’s youthful offensive front and our good defensive front, I still worry about a QB who can run – definitely caused problems for us this year.

  22. One note that might give VT some a bit more hope on offense: per the LA Times, UCLA’s leading tackler (ILB Eric Kendricks) is injured (right ankle surgery) and will miss the Sun Bowl.

  23. Chris,
    Here’s hoping you are wrong this time. Looking at the UCLA heights and weights, they seem a little small, not the big physical teams we struggle with (Stanford, Alabama, etc).

    I’m betting our D-line eats that baby oline for lunch. And, we haven’t had a real run game in 2 years so nothing new there. Personally, I’m hoping Thomas comes through with a Miami like performance for his final sendoff.

  24. Chris – I think your article is dead on. With few weapons on offense I think we get stomped by the Bruins. I’ll renew!

  25. If we sent you an email every time something was bad or lacking, the server would crash. Won’t be renewing.

    1. Whatever, dude. You’re welcome to your opinion, of course. But no one does a better job of covering VT football than TSL. That’s a fact.

    2. wtf? Really? Chris an Will do excellent job. One of these days I need to get off my butt an switch from monthly to yearly. But it gives them little extra $$$.

  26. I think you all need a Waaa-mbulance! Waaa, Waaa, Waaa!

    We could be sitting at home like the Boo Hoo Hoos. Get over yourselves, put your game face on, and enjoy some Football / Bowl Game Goodness.

  27. All I know is that my old boss used to say, “when they got you by the short hairs, that’s the time to p*** all over them.” Defense blows things up, including turnovers, ST’s break even, we get a decent mis-direction running game going with max protect pass plays, and let’s see what happens.

    Or maybe not.

  28. Chris, I really appreciate your downer article. Then again we have an aging writer with no new ideas or interests. Your analysis would be best done on the relevant facts. What’s Frank’s age got to do with it? Won’t be renewing.

    1. Lol good ridance. If you expect a bj just because you’re a homer then you’re at the wrong site. Try ESPN or rivals.

    2. OK, I’ll say it. The image that Frank Beamer projects is not the dynamic image that other up and coming programs project. No better person in football than CFB, but image counts with recruits.

    3. Haha. So what are your relevant facts that paints such a rosy picture for this game? Or do you just want a homer analysis that blows smoke up your butt? I would love to see the “facts” you think should be in the article. Perhaps is how productive our offense has been this year…or maybe the fact that our kicker has never missed a kick in college…..or that our Hokies always show up and do well in bowl games.
      Can we win? Heck yes! And I will be cheering for my Hokies to pull off the upset. Will we win? I’ve been a season ticket holder for 20+ years, been to 10+ bowl games, and stayed till the end of every single game I’ve attended…and I’ve seen enough over the last few years to know I shouldn’t get my hopes up (although I always do).
      Go Hokies!

  29. I’m on the road to El Paso. FYI, West Texas might not be in the middle of nowhere, but you can sure see the middle of nowhere from here! Anyway, I hope your prediction is off but I fear our offense and special teams just aren’t up to the task at hand. I’ll be there rooting them on none the less. Go Hokies and Happy New Year to Hokies everywhere.

    1. Once when I was in San Antonio I drove out I-10 to the west part of town. I saw a sign that said El Paso 565 miles (or something like that). That’s all I needed to know. Yes, middle of nowhere indeed.

      Everything in Texas is big. Reminds me of the joke about the two ranchers arguing about how big their ranches were. First one says, “I can get in my pick-up truck and drive all day and not get to the other side of my ranch.” Second guy says, “Yep. I used to have a pick-up truck just like that.”

      1. Second guy doesn’t have a pickup truck like that anymore. So, now he can get in his pick-up and drive all day and he DOES get to the other side of his ranch? Or he just doesn’t have a pickup truck anymore? Either way, I don’t get it.

          1. Maybe if the first guy said, “I have to drive all day to get to the other side of my ranch,” the joke would make sense to me. ANYWAY, agreed: GO HOKIES.

  30. Barr is better than Aaron Donald from Pitt. He must be good because we had no answer for Donald. He played in our backfield all day.

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