Instant Analysis - Chick-fil-A Bowl
Virginia Tech 37 ... Tennessee 14
Yes, Virginia Tech winning ten games six seasons in a row is impressive
no matter how many ways you want to slice it. If it was so easy to do,
then why is it that only Texas shares such a run? However, and I picked
Tennessee and was obviously dead wrong, it's not time to start doing
back-flips over beating this Volunteer team.
I liked Tennessee because I thought the coaching staff was going to come
up with a plan for the Tech running game, the defense was going to play
up to the level that made it 18th in the nation in yards allowed, and I
thought the offensive line was going to hold its own against the
Virginia Tech defensive line, Instead, Tech was more creative, far more
physical, far sharper, and far more into the game when the momentum was
its way. Now it's time to for the Hokies to take another step up and
really and truly be back in the national title debate.
There aren't any SEC teams on next year's slate, Darren Evans is back to
join Ryan Williams to give the Hokies the nation's best 1-2 rushing
punch, and the schedule helps the cause with Central Michigan, James
Madison, East Carolina, and Boise State (played outside of Washington at
FedEx Field in a Tech home game). And after a stomping of an SEC team,
even one as devoid of deep talent as Tennessee, the hype should be
through the roof. Tech, it's time to deal with the expectations and live
up to them. The four road games are at Miami, North Carolina, Boston
College, and NC State, and Georgia Tech ahs to come to Blacksburg. One
loss will be acceptable, but anything less than an ACC title will be a
disappointment. After after the way the Hokies played against the Vols,
hopefully for those who want a decent Chick-fil-A Bowl, it'll be a BCS
season for Frank Beamer's club. Anything less, if the team can play at
this high a level, will be a major disappointment.
RB Ryan Williams was terrific in Virginia Tech's poignant 37-14 rout of Tennessee in the Chick-fil-A Bowl, but he was not the MVP of this game. No, that's an award that should be split into fifths and equally shared by five different Hokies.
Just a redshirt freshman, Williams has an amazing future in Blacksburg. That's beyond debate. On this night, however, he owes a debt of gratitude to his offensive line, which manhandled the big, bad Tennessee defense from start to finish. Inconsistency has been the calling card of this unit for years, but with a pivotal, prove-it game against an SEC opponent, it flexed its muscles and created all kinds of daylight for Williams to navigate. In fact, when the rookie sensation tweaked his ankle in the second half, backup Josh Oglesby had similar running room. Ditto David Wilson and QB Tyrod Taylor, who also chipped in on the 229-yard ground assault. Plus, Taylor was sacked just once, a stark contrast to Vol Jonathan Crompton, who ran for his life all evening, getting dumped behind the line six times.
Virginia Tech owned the line of scrimmage for 60 minutes, which explains why it also owns a nifty five-game winning streak heading into the offseason and an impressive sixth 10-win season in-a-row. So go ahead and hand the individual hardware to Williams if you must. It's certainly not a bad choice. Just be sure to save a nice word or two for Blake DeChristopher, Beau Warren, Jaymes Brooks, Sergio Render, and Ed Wang. Without their dominating play in the trenches against that tough Monte Kiffin D, tonight's red-letter victory might not have been possible.
1) Ryan Williams was a stud, Bud Foster outcoached Monte Kiffin, and Tennessee dropped a very big pass precisely when Virginia Tech's secondary imitated Idaho in the Humanitarian Bowl, but the most newsworthy development in the Peach Bowl (just can't give the corporate endorsement; they blew up the "John Hancock Bowl," after all, and returned to an original state of Sun-filled football nature…) is that Tyrod Taylor ended 2009 with a bang.
The junior is one of those players who has seemingly spent seven or eight years in college, but he'll be back for 2010, and after playing his most complete game of the season, he'll have a fresh supply of confidence in the future. Taylor ran decisively, threw crisply, and led boldly on Thursday night, and if this is the quarterback who will appear in Blacksburg next September, it's likely that the Hokies will retake the ACC from Georgia Tech.
2) Twelve straight seasons with at least eight wins. Six straight seasons with at least 10 wins (second to Texas, since USC went only 9-4 this year). Virginia Tech is still a king of high-quality consistency on the college football landscape. Yeah, the lack of an ACC title stung this year, but even if the Hokies hadn't suffered their one really bad loss – at home to North Carolina – they still wouldn't have gone to Tampa on Dec. 5 with a chance to defend their league title. Georgia Tech was simply better than BeamerBall in 2009, but guess who welcomes the Yellow Jackets back to Lane Stadium next fall? This is the clear ACC favorite in 2010, and if 10-3 is a down year, well, that speaks to the standards Frank Beamer and Bud Foster have established over the past few decades.