As I was walking to the car last Thursday night, I reflected on the
accomplishments of the 2008 Virginia Tech football team and tried to think of
some way to capture them in my article. But so much has been said and written on
the subject already…there is very little I can add. The fact that this team
(of all the past Tech teams) won a BCS Bowl game and captured the Orange Bowl
trophy is still hard to believe several days later. But they did it. In beating
Cincinnati, the Hokies broke through several barriers – Dolphin Stadium isn’t
cursed after all – and salvaged some pride for the beleaguered ACC. And now with
the Orange Bowl trophy in hand, this young group of Hokies has set themselves up
for a quite a season in 2009.
Let’s see how they did it.
As we saw with LSU’s demolition of the Georgia Tech option, bowl games
provide coaches the extra time needed to pinpoint a game plan and to prepare the
players to execute that game plan with precision. And for the Hokies,
preparation was one of the big stories heading into this year’s Orange Bowl.
Clearly the changes to the bowl preparation routine paid off, particularly on
offense. The execution was crisper, faster and more efficient. Unlike the last
two bowl games against Georgia and Kansas, there were no signs of rust in this
game against Cincinnati.
It started with the game plan. When they started watching film on Cincinnati,
several key points jumped off the screen right away. The Bearcats were very
experienced on the defensive side of the ball, starting 10 seniors and one
junior. They were an aggressive, attacking style of defense that looked to
create negative yardage plays and force turnovers. And they were willing to
match-up their two corners in man coverage against every wide receiver they
Tech’s offense had struggled most of the year with inconsistency up front...
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