Orange Bowl Analysis: Mistakes, Missed Opportunities Doom Hokies

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The long delay after the regular season provides a lot of time for people to
dissect every little detail about bowl games — matchups, game plans,
experience, who’s hot, who’s more motivated, and who has more to prove. But
sometimes games come down to mistakes, missed opportunities and simple decisions
that backfire. And so it was for the Hokies last Thursday night in the Orange
Bowl. With the 24-21 loss to Kansas, the Hokies are now 1-4 in their last five
bowl games and 1-4 overall in BCS/Bowl Alliance bowls.

The Tech team that was so good down the stretch was not the same team that
showed up in Miami. Precise and efficient during the five game winning streak to
close out the regular season, the Hokies were out of synch for most of the game
against Kansas, particularly on offense and special teams — an area that
continues to bite the Hokies in bowl games. Despite having the better athletes
on both sides of the ball, the Hokies could not overcome a series of mistakes
that ultimately cost them the game.

It was a very frustrating loss for anyone associated with the Orange and
Maroon. And it left a lot of people asking questions about coaching decisions
and play calling, especially on the offensive side of the ball. We’ll get into
all of that, but the analysis of this one is pretty simple — change the outcome
of 4-5 plays and the Hokies likely win the game.

Let’s break it down …

Game Plans

On the first series of the game, the Kansas defense established how they
intended to play — they were going to be aggressive with their blitz packages
(especially when Tyrod Taylor was in the game) while setting up in their base
Cover-2 in the secondary. They did not show anything new with respect to
stopping the run — it was clear early on that they had confidence in their
front seven to get the job done against the Tech ground game.

Offensively, the Tech game plan was to continue doing what it had done down
the stretch — play both QB’s, work the outside and vertical passing game,