Alabama-Virginia Tech: The Second Quarter Will Tell the Tale

Larry BurtonSenior Writer IAugust 31, 2009

Everybody picks winners and losers. It's just in our nature as sports fans. What's harder is picking the reasons they'll win or lose.

Let me boldly proclaim that the team leading at halftime will win the game, and I will explain why.

By nature, these are both conservative coaches who believe you win with defense and great special teams. Neither has a history of being recklessly risky in the first quarter.

The first quarter is going to be like a heavyweight brawl. They are going to feel each other out, probe for weaknesses, and decide how to use their newfound strengths. 

Both will see how the other is against the run. Both will test the right and left sides of the opposing lines, and both will see how the defensive backs react to the running game.

Both press boxes will be watching which receiver seems a step faster than his defender.

Both coaches are wary, and neither may take any gambles early on in this game. Both want to get their team's "feet under them" before trying anything too risky.

In the second quarter, they will try to exploit what they think they've learned. The one whose plan works gets the other on his heels, and momentum takes over from there.

Last year Alabama's M.O. was to squash and break a team early and let the defense finish them off while the offense ran out the clock. Many, including this author, feel that Nick Saban may do this yet again.

Alabama has a history of killing opponents in the first two quarters. Will they do it once again?

Frank Beamer has a quarterback who he needs to build confidence before letting him test deep or otherwise risky throws.

Look for Tyrod Taylor to throw to backs in front of the safeties and make short throws to the tight ends and slot backs until he establishes not only some faith, but also some rhythm.

Once he has a little confidence, look for Taylor to stretch the field with a couple of long throws to try to help out the running game, which could have the toughest mission of the day for the Hokies.

This article is not to name one team or the other as the winner, but simply to say that the team that is ahead at halftime has solved the other's riddles and will continue to do so and win the game.

Then again, it may be the most exciting fourth quarter comeback in football history. Isn't that why we love to watch them?


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