With 8 seconds left on the game clock in Doak Campbell Stadium Florida State kicker Dustin Hopkins lined up for a 43 yard field goal attempt that would give the Seminoles a victory over the Cavaliers of UVA. For only the 4th time all year Hopkins missed the kick wide right. The impact of this missed field goal could be felt not only in the Sunshine State but also in the great state of Virginia 625 miles away in Blacksburg. The impact can be characterized as both one of joy and one of fear. Joy because it means that the annual game between VT and UVA will have bigger implications than in recent years. Fear because of what can happen to the Hokies season with a loss to UVA, something that hasn’t happened in 2,550 days (That’s 7 years ! )
Last years game as seen in the photo above was played in Blacksburg and won by the Hokies 37 – 7. Even though the Hokies have dominated the rivalry a lot has changed since the last time these two met. In the off season UVA and coach Mike London dominated the state of Virginia in recruiting. Taking recruits like CB Demetrious Nicholson , RB Clifton Richardson and WR Dominique Terrell from the tidewater/ Virginia Beach region of the state that the Hokies have been controlling for years. Nicholson has been the most productive of the group with 50 tackles and 2 interceptions coming into Saturdays game. This early production is only a sign of whats to come of the Hoos 2011 recruiting class.
Nicholson is one of many players thriving in Mike London’s defensive scheme that is ranked 28th in the nation for points allowed per game(20.1). Led by junior LB Steve Greer, who has 94 tackles on the season, the Cavs have used speed and athletisim to mess with the opposing QB especially in the red zone. Another bright spot for UVA has been the play of QB Mike Rocco and RB Perry Jones who have each provided sparks when their team needs them most. Look for Jones to have a tough day going against a Hokies defense that has allowed and average of 3
.3 yards per carry this season. UVA will have a shot to upset their hated rivals and win more than just the Commonwealth Cup.
For the Hokies to avoid the upset and the embarrassment that the Cavs are planning to give them they must do 3 things perfectly.
- Don’t go for the big hit just make the tackle: The Hokies have struggled with wrapping up ball carriers this season and it has lead to big runs and plays. Fortunately this only happens a few times over the course of a game but it usually results in a score for the opposition.
- The O-LINE must buy some time for Logan Thomas: In Tech’s Thursday night win over UNC Logan Thomas was outside of the pocket more than he was inside of it, Sure he works well on edge and utilizes his feet but he would benefit greatly with a few extra seconds to make a clear decision on where to throw the ball. A sloppy game by the big boys up front would be fatal to Techs chances.
- Don’t be complacent: So many times when a team is ranked highly and predicted to win by many experts they become happy or content with what they have and don’t strive for more. It’s what knocked my own High School team out of the playoffs this year and its what can certainly destroy any hopes that the Hokies have of an ACC Championship and a BCS Bowl appearance.
The Hokies should win this game with the play of David Wilson and Logan Thomas in recent weeks. Sure UVA’ s defense has been pretty good and they have a lot of momentum building to the game but they have yet to see a QB of Thomas’ size, speed and athleticism. Tech will have to play perfect and score early silencing the Wahoowaa in Charlottesville and crushing any hopes that they have of an upset.
My prediction is that the Hokies will win over UVA for the 8th straight year but it will be very very close and could come down to the final minutes of the game. Techs special teams will give them the slight edge and the leg of Kicker Cody Jounell will show the country that the Hokies do belong (something that Oregon, Oklahoma State and Alabama failed to do).
In addition to predicting this game I also have some picks on the other rivalry games of week 13
Arkansas will beat LSU on their home field.
Auburn will beat Alabama in Auburn in what will be the best Iron Bowl to date.
Oklahoma State will beat Oklahoma in Bedlam
If my 1st two picks are right look for the Hokies to move into the top 3 with a realistic shot at a BCS Championship game berth. But for any of that to happen Tech must 1st take care of UVA and maintain control of the Commonwealth Cup.
Happy Thanksgiving to all and enjoy your football weekend !