In my previous opponent preview of Virginia Tech, we talked extensively about the Hokies stud quarterback Logan Thomas. Before the season, draft pundits had Thomas slated as a future first round pick, with his combination of size (6-6, 250) and athleticism the biggest draw to his game. The start of this season has been no different. Thomas has led the way to the Hokies first three wins, averaging over 200 plus yards passing and nearly two touchdowns per game. In a close win against Georgia Tech to open the season, Thomas had a fantastic game, completing 21 of 38 passes for 230 yards and two touchdowns. More importantly, he had zero interceptions. Thomas has continued this high quality of play throughout the next three games, even playing well in a disappointing loss to Pitt in week 3. There is no question that Logan Thomas is the go to guy for this Virginia Tech offense.
The downside to this Hokies offense this season has been the running game. Usually a factory known for churning out stud running back after stud running back, this 2012 version has seen better days. The leading rusher for the Virginia Tech offense is Michael Holmes, who has 151 yards and three touchdowns through four games. Not exactly eye pooping numbers. The most unsettling part is the lack of success this running game has been the lack of a go to back, something the Hokies have been used to for the better part of the last decade. As a team, they've had success running the ball, but they're waiting for that one guy to step up and take the lead. Until that happens, the rushing attack will continue to be a question mark going forward.
Usually the heart of a good Virginia Tech team, the defense has been a bit of an anomaly this season. While the scoring defense has been decent (17.3 points per game), it's the rushing defense that has been the most troubling. On the season, Hokie's opponents are averaging over 180 yards per game, almost 40 more yards than the Virginia Tech offense averages rushing on offense. The passing defense has been great, only giving up a little over 140 passing yards per game. This is more than likely due to the great cornerback tandem of Kyle Fuller and Antone Exum, who lead the team in interceptions at two a piece.
The defensive line has been a talented unit from a statistical standpoint. Tyrel Wilson leads the team with 3.5 tackles for loss and two interceptions. This unit really gets after the ball, with 16 players accounting for tackles for loss on defense, proving the depth that this unit has at its disposal. This may not be a classic Virginia Tech defense, but the talent is still there to produce.
How UC can win
The good news for Bearcat fans, Cincinnati's offense plays matches up perfectly with the Virginia Tech defense. The Hokies have had trouble stopping the run all season. What has been UC's offensive strength? Running the ball, averaging over 250 yards per season. If Cincinnati can get George Winn and Ralph Abernathy IV going early, taking pressure off of Munchie, we can expect to see the offense move the ball with ease all game. However, if Virginia Tech is able to stifle UC's rushing attack and put the ball in Legaux's hands, it could be trouble with the talent the Hokies possess in their secondary.
From a defensive standpoint, pressure is key for the Bearcats. If you give Logan Thomas time in the pocket, he can pick you apart and make some big pays downfield. Pressure forces him to make quick decisions, allowing the defense to be active. Normally I would say stopping the run is key, but this Hokie offense hasn't been able to get much going on the ground, forcing Thomas to make plays. I would put UC into some zone coverage early on and assess Virginia Tech's offensive game plan. More than likely, they will try to establish the run early, if they fail, expect to see Thomas slinging the ball around the field for most of the game. With UC's experience in the secondary, I expect them to handle it well.
Virginia Tech- 17