Virginia Football Game Analysis: Surging Hokies Pull Away in the 4th

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The hype machine was out in full force for this one. The state of Virginia
had never hosted a football game of this magnitude. Both teams were hot with
each coming off woodshed beatings of the once-proud Miami Hurricanes. Both teams
were resilient — the Hoos finding a way to win five games by two points or
less, and the Hokies rebounding to play their best football after a
gut-wrenching home loss to Boston College. And both teams knew they had to win
this one to achieve their preseason goal of playing in the ACC Championship
Game.

Both teams came into the game with certain advantages. UVa had the
much-needed bye week, was playing at home, and featured what many considered to
be the best player on the field in DE Chris Long. The Hokies had more speed and
more playmakers on both sides of the ball, as well as the experience of having
played in more big games.

In the end, the difference in speed set the tone, and the Hokies used a
dominating 4th quarter to close out a 33-21 victory, their eighth victory in the
last nine games against the Hoos.

How did they do it? Let’s break it down.

Offensive Game Plans

Everyone knew the Hokies had the speed advantage on the outside, but they
also had certain match-up advantages inside that they wanted to exploit. In
particular, a key to the offensive game plan was for center Ryan Shuman to win
the individual battle against UVa’s nose tackle duo of Allen Billyk and Nate
Collins. One of the keys to a successful 3-4 run defense is for that nose tackle
to plug the middle, control both “A” gaps and force double teams by
the offensive line to move him off the ball. When that happens, the DE’s can
make plays and the LB’s are free to run to the ball.

The
Hokies needed Shuman to

...