Tennessee Volunteers Football

Tennessee Vols, Do You Know Your Chick-Fil-A Bowl Enemy?

BLACKSBURG, VA - OCTOBER 29:  Running back Ryan Williams #34 of the Virginia Tech University Hokies carries the ball in the first quarter of the game against the North Carolina Tar Heels at Lane Stadium on October 29, 2009 in Blacksburg, Virginia.  (Photo by Scott Halleran/Getty Images)
Scott Halleran/Getty Images
Joel BarkerSenior Writer IDecember 15, 2009

It's only been a little over two weeks since we last saw the Big Orange clad Volunteers take the field and already I'm having withdrawal.

Truth is, all the negativity, which I knowingly fed into with two stories about Lane Kiffin, is getting to me.

I'm simply sick and tired of writing and commenting about things I have no control over.

Am I concerned? You betcha. Am I going to worry about it and write a new article every three days to voice that concern? Not a chance.

I'm here to talk about football. Big Orange football in particular. It's what I do best.

So for the next few minutes let's put aside recruiting penalties and potential wrong-doing and just talk about the Chick-Fil-A bowl.

On New Year's Eve night Tennessee will travel to Atlanta to represent the SEC in the Chick-Fil-A bowl. No. 12 Virginia Tech and a hard fought match-up will await the Vols in Atlanta.

Virginia Tech, by some estimates, had the inside track on playing for an ACC title. There were some who dared to predict even bigger and better things before the Hokies lost their second and third games of the season.

Virginia Tech played in the Georgia Dome to begin the '09 season against Alabama. The Hokies played well against the Tide, but Alabama proved to be too much for Tech to handle late in the game.

Beamer's Boys would go on to win five in a row, climbing back to No. 4 in the nation before returning to Atlanta to face Georgia Tech. The Yellow Jackets won 28-23 in a game that was not as close as the final score indicated.

Just 12 days later the Hokies expected to get back on the winning side against North Carolina. Instead, UNC kicker Casey Barth sent Tech out with their second loss in a row and third on the season.

From there, however, the Hokies had no trouble winning out.

The Hokies' season began with fear at the thought of losing leading rusher Darren Evans for the year with a torn ACL. That fear was quickly replaced with freshman RB Ryan Williams' 1538 rushing yards and 19 touchdowns.

Williams set the tone with 150 yards against then—No. 9 Miami in a 31-7 route of the Hurricanes. The freshman would go on to record 150-plus yards four more times in '09.

Ryan Williams equals Public Enemy No. 1 for the Vols.

If those numbers aren't enough to scare you then adding QB Tyrod Taylor's numbers will.

Taylor is a classic Virginia Tech quarterback. Ability to throw mixed with blazing speed to run. The junior threw for 2102 yards and had five games in which he rushed for 50-plus yards.

His primary target is WR Jarrett Boykin, who caught 36 passes for 715 yards.

Even with all the production on offense, the Hokies have struggled to score against decent defenses in '09. They seem to be hitting on all cylinders lately, but playing the likes of Maryland, Virginia, and NC State will only help that matter.

On defense, the Hokies aren't as stellar as in years past, but against the pass they are a force to be reckoned with.

LB Cody Grimm, DE's Jason Worilds and Nekos Brown will make life hard for Tennessee's offensive line in pass protection. And as we've all seen in the past, pressure and Jonathan Crompton do not mix well.

However, the Hokies' run defense has been suspect all season long. Alabama ran for 268 yards on the strength of Heisman winner Mark Ingram's 150. Georgia Tech put up 309 yards against them.

I realize that the Yellow Jackets have a much different ground attack than most. I also realize that Alabama's rushing attack had the Heisman winner. But the bottom line is those who can run usually do against this defense.

If you haven't been watching, Montario Hardesty and the Vols can run.

Tennessee has been faced with this situation for much of the season.

The opponent will expect a heavily run-based offense only to find that Lane Kiffin's offensive wizardry will outsmart them and throw all day.

I expect a gameplan similar to that in Atlanta. Keep Tech on their toes at every possible moment and then hit them with a long playaction pass from Crompton or a 25 yard run by Hardesty.

If you've watched the Vols at any point this season you know for a fact that it will not come easy. Nothing has come easy for this team, with the exception of Western Kentucky and Georgia (How cool is it to lump the 'Dawgs in with the Hilltoppers).

No.12 Virginia Tech is definitely a formidible opponent.

That fact alone is reason enough to take the focus off the nonsense surrounding Tennessee.

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