2006 Keys to the Game and Matchups to Watch: VT vs. Cincinnati

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The 36-0 romp over Duke began to answer more questions about the Hokie
offense this year, as Tech opened up the vertical passing game and Sean Glennon
had his first 300 yard passing day. Bud Foster’s defense was as stingy as ever
and shut down the Blue Devils’ offense, recording the Hokies’ second shutout
of the season. Should we expect more of the same as the Cincinnati Bearcats come
to town this Saturday?

The last time Cincinnati visited Blacksburg, in 1995, the Bearcats walked
away with a 16-0 victory on a dreary, rainy day. Jim Druckenmiller had a
miserable day and Hokie fans were questioning his ability to be the starting
quarterback. As we now know, that team turned around their season and won the
next ten games, including a thrashing of the Texas Longhorns in the Sugar Bowl.

However, this is not the same Cincinnati team of 1995, nor is it the same
Virginia Tech team. The 1995 Bearcat team had a physical, aggressive defense
that was one of the nation’s best. This year’s version of the Cincy defense
is still tough and physical, but not nearly as talented as the 1995 version. The
Bearcats’ attacking scheme has presented problems for every opponent in the
first half of every game this season, but a lack of size and depth tends to wear
down Cincinnati and the defense fades in the second half.

Cincinnati played Pittsburgh to a scoreless tie late into the first half, and
led Ohio State for much of the first half 7-6. The Bearcats only trailed the
Buckeyes 13-7 at the half and 20-7 at the end of the third quarter before
fatigue set in. In both games, big plays in the second half broke the games

Offensively, Cincinnati has struggled with a young offensive line that has
been overmatched against Pittsburgh and Ohio State. The running game has been
non-existent and the quarterbacks have been running for their lives. Dustin
Grutza (#4, 6-2 212, r-So.) is a mobile quarterback who can make plays, but no
QB can be effective under constant pressure.

So, what are the keys to the Cincinnati game?

When Cincinnati Has the