5 Thoughts - 2009 Orange Bowl
Virginia Tech QB Tyrod Taylor
Virginia Tech QB Tyrod Taylor
Posted Jan 1, 2009

Virginia Tech beats Cincinnati 20-7 ... 5 Thoughts on the 2009 Orange Bowl

2009 FexEx Orange Bowl
Virginia Tech 20 ... Cincinnati 7

GAME RECAP: Virginia Tech's defense comes through 
- 2009 CFN Orange Bowl Preview 
2009 Orange Bowl Player Profiles, Histories, & More

1. Darren Evans ran the ball extremely well. Tyrod Taylor did a nice job of managing the offense. Barquell Rivers had an enormous goal line stop in the fourth quarter. However, the MVP of the Orange Bowl was the Virginia Tech coaching staff. Frank Beamer capped what was arguably the best coaching job of his career by snapping the ACC’s eight-game losing streak in BCS bowl games. This from a team that started slowly and was supposed to be in a quasi-rebuilding year. Bud Foster’s defense was air-tight, shutting out Cincinnati over the final 58 minutes and picking off four Tony Pike passes. And although the team scored just 20 points, offensive coordinator Bryan Stinespring did a nice job of mixing up his formations and keeping the Bearcat defense on its heels. - Richard Cirminiello

Midway through the fourth quarter, when Cincinnati got a first-and-goal at the Virginia Tech 3, Bearcat coach Brian Kelly--a rising star in the profession--blinked. Instead of giving Tony Pike, his mistake-prone quarterback, a breather, Kelly chose to throw on first and second down. Instead of allowing his offensive line to fire off the ball for a change, Kelly stayed in the air. When those first two plays failed and a third-down run got to the 1, it was hard for Cincy to expect to power the ball into the end zone on fourth-and-goal. Faced with a do-or-die proposition, Kelly wisely opted for a play fake, but the coach didn't give Pike a run-pass option. The tall and lanky signal caller had been running passively to the sticks all night long, so it was hardly surprising that on a planned run, Pike--who had suffered a few concussions during the regular season--was reluctant to lower his head and power into the end zone. Sure enough, a wall of Hokie defenders headed him off before he reached the goal line, and the Bearcats were finished. Cincy fans should be thrilled to have Kelly as their coach for at least another season, but for what it's worth, the boss Bearcat didn't handle a crucial goal-line situation with the wisdom it demanded. - Matthew Zemek

3. Is this the biggest win in the last 25 years for the ACC? Of course there have been a few national titles in the past, but the league was mostly known for being Florida State and a bunch of other teams. The conference desperately needed this. Considering the miserable record in the new era, going 1-9 in the BCS before this win, Virginia Tech needed to prove to the world that the ACC isn't the weakest of the BCS leagues and that it deserves the automatic slot. It needed to show that it could play on a big stage and come through big. The league took its share of hits this bowl season, most notably the Boston College loss to Vanderbilt, and it needed to come up with this win. Cincinnati is good, but it's not like facing USC or Texas; the Hokies came through. The defense played a brilliant game after the first drive, the offense showed it could get by with Darren Evans and just enough Tyrod Taylor to keep things moving, and the ACC has the monkey off its back. No, this wasn't a watershed moment for the league that'll bring in a slew of new national respect, but by winning, the perception didn't slip further.
- Pete Fiutak 

4. For all the talk on New Year's Day about how dominant the USC defense is, and rightly so, Virginia Tech should get involved in the discussion of the year's better defenses. It might not have the glitzy star power of the Trojans, and no, it's not as good as the group that helped destroy Penn State, but with little offensive pop outside of Darren Evans and Tyrod Taylor running the ball, even if they did it really, really well, this was a magical defensive performance. From goal line stands to coming up with key takeaways to shutting things down for the final 58 minutes of the game, the Hokies won the ACC title and the Orange Bowl by turning up the heat. Now, with plenty of returning experience, this could be the dominant defense of 2009. This game might turn out to be the jumping off point.
- Pete Fiutak 

5. How in the world did Cincinnati WR Mardy Gilyard get of the state of Florida without getting offers from the state’s major programs? He’s the most exciting thing in a Big East pass-catcher since Larry Fitzgerald was at Pittsburgh. A dynamite receiver and return man, he was the only constant in the Bearcat offense, an acrobat who makes people miss in the open field. Gilyard is an SEC talent playing in the Big East, a recipe for a ton of big plays over the next two seasons. He and returning starting QB Tony Pike are going to form one of the nation’s most prolific pitch-and-catch combos in 2009. - Richard Cirminiello