Friday, September 28, 2012

Game Preview - VT vs. Cincinnati

Unlike many of you, I was not that fired up after the Bowling Green win last week. It wasn't a key game, didn't deserve 3 Key Plays in what became a blowout and the Hokies got off to yet another slow start this season on offense. The way the offense looked last season, with Coach Stinespring down on the sidelines and O'Cain in the booth, does any human being on the planet understand why Stiney moved back to the booth this year?

The offense has suddenly turned to mush. Last year's offense was no juggernaut but it seemed somewhat crisp at times, for the only time I can remember in Stiney's tenure. Now there is no way that this change back to sloppy play and slow starts can be just a coincidence. The Hokies go into FedEx Field on Saturday against a Cincinnati team that SMOKED the Pitt Panthers. The same Pitt Panthers that took the Hokies behind the ol' woodshed two weeks ago in a game that I gloriously did not and will not ever see. So Cincy is for real and a slow start could absolutely be the end of the Hokies in this one.

VT Offense vs. Cincy Defense
The Hokies will be without RB Tony Gregory as his knee flamed up after a solid performance last week. Michael Holmes seems to have hit a freshman wall, while JC Coleman continues to improve, so don't be surprised to see Coleman get a lot of playing time. And I'm still trying to figure out why Martin Scales isn't getting more carries. But while the Hokies do need to find some running game, the mission critical key to this entire game is going to be the play of Logan Thomas. LT has to rise up and make some plays. Yes, there have been drops and poor protection at times. But he's going to have to take over a game at some point this season and overcome all of that and Saturday seems like that kind of opportunity. Cincy is a senior-laden defense, they're not going to make stupid mistakes. It's going to take bigtime throws and making plays with his feet for Logan to get the Hokies going on offense. Not average plays, but BIG plays. He certainly has the physical talent, it's time to see how psychologically ready he is.

Cincy Offense vs. VT Defense
Cincy will spread the field and then hit you with the Florida running game. Unbalanced lines, motion, QB read plays, it's the full enchilada of spread offense. The Hokies have made a change in the starting lineup on D, with super-athletic Ronny VanDyke getting his first start over the embattled Jeron Gouviea-Winslow at whip. JGW will still probably play, but you need athletes all over the field on defense to slow the Bearcat offense down. Butch Jones is a helluva coach and Bud Foster has his work cut out for him. If the Hokies can get out to an early lead and make the Bearcats more one-dimensional, that would be a huge help in freeing up the defensive line to pass rush, but it'd also be a huge help if Kate Upton applied to be our house-cleaner. Doesn't mean it's going to happen.

Special Teams
The Hokies have been much improved on special teams this season but I think this will be a push between the two teams. Both the Hokies and Bearcats have attempted few FG's, and while Cincy has the edge in punting, the Hokies have the edge in punt returns. I expect field position to be a back and forth tradeoff most of the game.

As it often does, Saturday's game will likely be determined by time of possession and turnovers. Not that it will necessarily be a close game. These two teams are momentum teams, more than most, and if one gets going and scoring points, it could be a looooonnnnnggg day for the opponent. I really hope the Hokies win so I can watch this game, because if they don't, I have a feeling it's because they'll lose worse than they did to Pittsburgh. The crowd leans VT and that could help, so if you're in the DC area, turn out and BE LOUD!!!!


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