Orange Bowl Preview–Virginia Tech vs. Stanford
On Dec. 30, Stanford was able to end UConn’s impressive 90-game winning streak in women’s basketball. Monday night, their football team will look to end Virginia Tech’s 11-game winning streak.
In order to close the season out on a high note, Virginia Tech will have to overcome a few obstacles.
Star running back Ryan Williams is doing a great job handling the non-stop questions about his possible future in the NFL, but he’s struggling with his hamstring that kept him sidelined for a good part of the season. He tweaked it while practicing in Blacksburg and will be a game time decision.
The second piece to the vaunted triple threat at running attack will be standing on the sidelines for the entire first quarter. David Wilson will not see any action in the first quarter because he missed his 1 a.m. curfew on New Year’s Eve. Wilson wasn’t the only one out a little too late, backup safety—and often used in nickel formation—Antone Exum was also punished and will only be a spectator during the first quarter.
If Williams is a go Monday night, then Wilson’s absence shouldn’t hurt the Hokies too much. Darren Evans and Williams typically get the majority of the snaps in the first quarter during the three-man rotation. If Williams is too hurt to play, Hokie nation doesn’t need to panic. Evans proved himself last time Virginia Tech was in the Orange Bowl, being named the MVP of the game.
Another big question mark heading into the game is Virginia Tech’s linebacker situation. Starter Lyndell Gibson is out for the game with an injury suffered against FSU in the ACC Championship Game. Back-up linebackers Jake Tyler and Tariq Edwards are expected to see a lot of time and the team’s leading tackler Bruce Taylor is likely to play in two different positions during the game. Barquell Rivers, last year’s second leading tackler, has not seen any action this year after injuring his quadriceps during the offseason. He could see his first action of the season. If he’s healthy enough he could be a big boost in Virginia Tech’s questionable run defense.
Everyone has probably heard of Stanford’s quarterback Andrew Luck, he’s expected to be the number one overall draft pick in this April’s NFL draft. Virginia Tech’s game plan, as crazy as it sounds, is to make Luck throw the ball. Stanford comes into the game with the nation’s 14th ranked rushing attack. If Bud Foster can contain 1,000 yard rusher Stepfan Taylor and effective back-ups Anthony Wilkerson and Tyler Gaffney then his aggressive defensive backs can feast on a one dimensional offense. It’s a risky game plan, but could be crazy enough to work—Foster’s defense ranks second in the FBS in interceptions with 22.
This is Tyrod Taylor’s last game as a Hokie and he is sure to end his impressive career on a high note. He has carried this team on his back when they struggled to find an identity their first handful of games. There would be no better ending than him lifting Virginia Tech to its second ever win against a top-five opponent. He’ll need to be on his A-game to do this because Stanford’s offense is sure to give Virginia Tech’s defense fits all game.
Virginia Tech is battle tested in coming from behind, high scoring games and making big plays to close games out. They’ll need to show they learned a lot from every game in order to win this game. It’s expected to be a thriller as both sides are playing great football heading into Monday night’s game.
Virginia Tech needs to keep its resiliency if they fall behind early, if the Hokies learned one thing all year it’s that they can overcome an early hole no matter how potent the other team is. With the come from behind against Boise State to giving up points on the first possession of every game this year, the Hokies have crawled back into each and every game and have the potential to do so as long. As long as Taylor is executing the plays, then Virginia Tech has a chance to win the game.