Sugar Bowl

Film Study: Michigan Preview

Thanks to kind Internet souls like mgodisney I was able to efficiently watch five Michigan games yesterday (Ohio State, Nebraska, Iowa, Michigan State and Notre Dame). The Wolverines improved each week during the season. That's coach speak, but it's true. In their final two games against Nebraska and Ohio State, Michigan was a complete team with a lot of confidence capable of moving the ball and playing good enough defense.

I know we're playing Michigan, but let's talk about Iowa real quick, more specifically Iowa-Michigan. Watch this, or as much as you can tolerate, or for as long as it takes you to realize there's a high probability '08 Stinepring is calling the plays for the Hawkeyes.

Hokie Tracks are antsy for the Sugar Bowl

It's the defense stupid. That's the main reason for Michigan's turnaround in 2011. You can see the trend quickly in chart form courtesy of /r/cfb. If you'd prefer long-ish form Andy Bitter has you covered.

Oft-criticized defensive coordinator Greg Robinson had never run the 3-3-5 scheme former coach Rich Rodriguez preferred and was forced to work with many of the assistants Rodriguez brought with him in 2009-10. The Wolverines' defense, which had always been stout under ex-coach Lloyd Carr, dropped from 24th nationally in Carr's final season to 82nd, 67th and 110th in Rodriguez's three years.

Enter Mattison, who used to coach at Michigan, Notre Dame and, most recently, the NFL's Baltimore Ravens from 2008-10.

A proponent of the 4-3 defense, Mattison's scheme better suited Michigan's personnel, with defensive lineman Mike Martin (54 tackles, 5.5 TFLs, 3 sacks) and Ryan Van Bergen (41 tackles, 12 TFls, 5 sacks) starring up front.

Sugar Bowl Game Notes

I combed through the game notes from HokieSports.com so you wouldn't have to. (But if you do, leave any interesting observations in the comments.)

Tech won 11 games in 1999, 2000, 2005, 2007 and 2010. A win in the Sugar Bowl would be the program's first 12 win season ever. The seniors would be 43-12 over the last four years, a new record for wins by a senior class.

Bruce Arians, the offensive coordinator for the Pittsburgh Steelers, holds the school record for rushing touchdowns in a season by a quarterback with 11. Logan Thomas sits at 10. In case you're wondering, Michael Vick sped into the endzone 17 times in his career. Nine scores in '99 eight in 2000.

I wonder if Chase Williams is just staying at his parents house?

David Wilson (1,627) needs 29 yards to break Ryan Williams' Tech single-season rushing yard record (1,655). With a stellar game, Logan Thomas has a chance to set Tech's single-season total offense record. Tyrod Taylor put up 3,402 yards in 2010, Logan has 3,215 yards this season.

Tech is 1-0 against B1G Ten.

Blake DeChristopher (125) and Greg Nosal (111) have over 100 knockdown blocks in 2011. That's an average of more than 9 and 8 per game respectively. Miller, Brooks and Lanier have 57, 56 and 36 knockdowns a piece.

I wrote this because I was drunk at Christmas.

I don't didn't intend to publish this. I'm I was writing for my own benefit. Sometimes you're alone with your thoughts because you stepped away from the table on Christmas Eve. It's healthy to get them out, I guess. Right now I'm writing along with the Eagles. Hotel California is one of those albums you should dedicate 40 minutes to listen to before you die. It's contiguous, not many albums today are. Don't get me wrong, there are timeless tracks that stand the test of time alone: Life in the Fast Lane, Try and Love Again and the title track, but together they're something else, in this case a classic.

I won't let go of the 2003 Miami game. If you've been hanging out here for a while you know I've written about it before. It's the most "Virginia Tech game" I've ever been to. It was a classic. Lane was bonkers, we ran the ball, we played defense, we forced turnovers, we stormed the field, we beat Miami. We should have won the national championship that year. We had the rep, we had the schedule, we had the team. If we played every game as hard, as tough, if we wanted every game that year as much as we wanted to beat Miami, fans and team alike, we would have been undefeated.

These are the most words that I will write about a kicker. Ever.

Cody Journell was hiding in some shrubbery outside of Dorenzo Hudson and Sean Allen's home after dark on Wednesday night. One of Journell's associates was standing outside of the door holding a pizza box1 that was concealing what looked like an Airsoft handgun (which, if you don't know, are realistic looking. Another cohort was chilling2 in the bushes. This was the opening scene to a perfectly asinine college caper destined to go wrong.

Mr. Mackey wasn't bullshitting, drugs are bad. People do a lot of dumb shit over drugs...

Q&A with MGoBlog

Below, Brian from MGoBlog gives MAN ANSWERS to my questions. Our answers to his questions are here (French took 1-8, I took 9-12).

1. Denard, Denard, Denard... I think most Hokies know about the freak-of-an-athlete you guys having running around the field at quarterback. How would you go about designing a game plan to contain him, and who's the second guy on offense VT's going to have to worry about stopping?

I would come after him and play a lot of robber zone stuff to take away intermediate routes when you do. Denard has been mistake-prone when pressured but when left to set his feet and throw he's been pretty accurate lately. You do put yourself at risk of Denard busting past your blitzers and giving up a big play, but that's somewhat offset by the chance he chucks an ugly interception.

The second guy to worry about is Fitzgerald Toussaint, Michigan's primary running back. He's a smallish, darting runner with the ability to juke in a phone booth and very good (but not great) top end speed. He cracked 1000 yards on the season with a late surge.

#ALLMAROONEVERYTHING

Hopefully in New Orleans these will be more than just pixels on a computer screen. Created with Clark Ruhland's uniform builder.

I've been struggling to write this post for the last couple of days. I've been going back-and-forth in my head, trying to put my finger on why we want to see the Hokies decked out head-to-toe in all-maroon. It's undeniable they're sharp as hell. Stare at them for just a couple of seconds and they snarl and bite at you. They clock a 4-4 forty, they got heart. They're as "Virginia Tech" as the Hokie Stone that watches students get stung by the wind as they walk across the drillfield in the winter. They're simple, not overstated, perfect for a team that carries a lunchpail to work.

There's no mention of pants. Of course not, that Tweet ran out of characters, and it's not worth noting we'll wear the same old white pants. That was me being logical. However, my initial conclusion was presuming and irrational: @VT_Football neglected the pants because they want the all-maroon uniforms to be a surprise. That's what I want to believe.

Big Game in the Big Easy: The Bowl Hokies Have Craved

About two weeks ago I was taking a somber walk out of Bank of America stadium, lamenting over how the ACC championship loss was a sad way to end the season. The depression of was short-lived, replaced the next night by the elation of VT getting a bid to the Sugar Bowl.

Big game featuring two big name playcallers in the Big Easy. What more is there to ask for?

Best Bowl Game Scenario

Of course I'd rather have seen the Hokies get revenge against Clemson and earn another ACC title, but VT ended up with the best bowl scenario. A win would have sent VT to Miami for the 4th time in 5 seasons to play against a WVU team that hasn't been impressive. There is the rivalry with WVU, but Orange Bowl fatigue combined with a Wednesday night kickoff against a low ranked opponent would produce a ho-hum response from fans and the national media. Beating the Big East champion doesn't provide any real upside to national reputation either.

Bowl Tickets and Common Sense. And Lots of Rambling.

We all knew it was coming.

Ticket sales for the 2012 Sugar Bowl vs. Michigan "opened" for Hokies Friday, and as of the weekend have fallen short of the unfair expectations donned by those media members so ready to pronounce us unworthy. The intent of this article is not to point out, yet again, why all of this Hokie-hate is unfounded, but rather to show every one a little bit of Bowl Economics, and why a Hokie-allotment sellout really shouldn't be an expectation, and perhaps not even a goal.

DISCLAIMER: Blog posts may not have been written or edited by The Key Play.com staff.

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