Virginia Tech vs. Cincinnati: Complete Game Preview
In a rematch of the 2008 Orange Bowl, the Virginia Tech Hokies will meet the Cincinnati Bearcats this Saturday at FedEx Field in Landover, Md.
The Bearcats enter this matchup at 2-0 and have not played since their 23-7 defeat of Delaware State on September 15.
The Hokies bounced back from their humbling loss two weeks ago at Pittsburgh to throttle Bowling Green in Week 4, 37-0.
The Bearcats actually opened the season with a 34-10 defeat of Pittsburgh.
Can the Hokies build off last week’s momentum after they rushed for 246 yards?
Here are five things to look out for in this weekend’s game.
Can the Hokies Run the Ball?
The Hokies have had a tough season running the football.
Some of that can be attributed to poor offensive line play while some of it is due to the Hokies playing two freshmen running backs.
Last week, the Hokies rotated junior Tony Gregory and senior Martin Scales into the running-back mix. Gregory led the team with 68 yards on 11 carries.
Michael Holmes only had four carries but finished with 51 yards and a touchdown.
How and when Virginia Tech gives exciting freshman J.C. Coleman the ball will be something to keep an eye on. He has looked good so far when he has had the opportunity. He appears to be the best pass-catching back out of this group; look for the Hokies to take advantage of his explosiveness moving forward.
Cincinnati is ranked 39th nationally in run defense, so the Bearcats can be run on.
Stopping Munchie Legaux
Legaux is one of the more exciting quarterbacks in the country.
At 6’5” and 200 pounds, he has tremendous size, although he is bit thin. Legaux has completed just under 62 percent of his passes in two games and is second on the team with 142 rushing yards.
Legaux is one of several quarterbacks who are dual threats that the Hokies will face this season. Stopping him will give the defense confidence when it faces the likes of Tajh Boyd and E.J. Manuel later in the season.
It won’t be easy.
Hokies Run Defense vs. Cincinnati’s Rushing Attack
The Bearcats are averaging 259 yards rushing per game, which is 12th in the nation.
The Hokies run defense is ranked 90 nationally. That number is embarrassing for defensive coordinator Bud Foster, who has always taken pride in stopping the run above all else.
Cincinnati has a dynamic rushing attack due in large part to Legaux. The Bearcats' leading rusher is senior George Winn, who has a total of 242 rushing yards and two touchdowns through two games.
Sophomore Ralph Abernathy is perhaps Cincinnati's most dangerous weapon. At 5’7” and 161 pounds, Abernathy is a return man who also leads the team in receptions, receiving yards and receiving touchdowns.
Abernathy also happens to be third on the team is rushing yards. The Hokies will have their hands full with him on Saturday.
Virginia Tech Offensive Line
This will be probably be a recurring issue every week, as this unit is clearly a problem for the Hokies.
Left guard David Wang will probably miss this weekend’s game again, and last week Matt Arkema started in his place. Michael Via started at right guard but split reps there with Brent Benedict again. Via also took snaps at left guard.
Caleb Farris split time at center for the third time this season with junior Andrew Miller. Virginia Tech head coach Frank Beamer has said that Miller hasn’t been benched, nor is he injured, but this situation bears monitoring.
I’d say Beamer is just looking to see how Farris responds to live game action, as Miller should be entrenched as the starting center.
The Hokies need to settle on the three interior positions soon.
Tackles Nick Becton and Vinston Painter have been solid thus far. In the win over Bowling Green, both Becton and Painter showed their athleticism as the Hokies began to run outside more.
The Hokies will give up yards to the Bearcats, as Cincinnati’s spread offense is tough to defend.
Keeping a defender assigned to Legaux will be big for the Hokies. They have to keep Legaux in the pocket, where he is less comfortable.
Cincinnati’s defense has only given up 17 points in two games, but one game was against one of the worst teams in the FCS.
The Hokies need to establish the run early; however, they should take several shots down the field, too, as Cincinnati’s pass defense is questionable. The Hokies wide receivers will present tough matchups for Cincinnati, and Logan Thomas needs to exploit that.
The Hokies will win this game 24-17 and finally come away from an NFL stadium with a win.
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