I wrote last week that I had stopped putting stock in Virginia Tech’s opponents’ previous games.
For example, Pittsburgh lost to FCS Youngstown State, but that didn’t stop the Panthers from taking a win from the Hokies two weeks later.
Bowling Green kept it close with Florida up until the fourth quarter, eventually falling by two touchdowns. The Hokies crushed the Falcons 37-0 last week.
What I’m getting at is that it doesn’t matter that Cincinnati demolished the same Pittsburgh team that dominated Tech. At least, that’s what history tells us.
History tells us that teams sometimes have good days, while others sometimes have off days. I’m not saying the Bearcats 34-10 win over the Panthers was a fluke by any means. I’m just saying that it doesn’t mean they’re automatically going to destroy Tech.
But that doesn’t mean I’m not afraid of it.
Cincinnati is easily the most athletic offense Tech has faced up to this point in the young season. But that’s not the only reason Hokie fans should be worried.
Here’s why I’m afraid of Cincinnati:
For starters, yes, that’s an actual name. Legaux, who stands at 6-foot-5, isn’t the most athletic quarterback you’ll see, but he ranks pretty high up there. He’s deceptively quick and makes smart, basic throws. Through two games he’s thrown four touchdowns, two to running back Ralph Abernathy on screen passes, which the Bearcats love to run. Legaux also broke a 77-yard run against Pitt on an option-read play. He doesn’t have the best arm, but he’s also not being asked to make difficult throws. If Tech wants to win on Saturday, they’ll have to slow down Legaux.
GEORGE WINN/RALPH ABERNATHY
The running back tandem has combined to run for 314 yards through two games. Neither is easy to bring down, something Tech should be familiar with, having faced Austin Peay’s Wes Kitts and Pittsburgh’s duo of Ray Graham and Rushel Shell. Additionally, they’re also both talented pass-catchers out of the backfield. Make no mistake about it, stopping these two will be no easy task. And If Cincinnati has a lead in the fourth quarter, you can bet that they’ll have success milking the clock with Winn and Abernathy in the backfield.
Explosiveness is something that every team, including Tech, strives to put on the field. Cincinnati is a quick team that can make you pay in a hurry if you’re not playing your assignment. Legaux, Winn, Abernathy and the wide receiver trio of Anthony McClung, Kenbrell Thompkins and Damon Julian all have big-play ability. Tech has yet to give up that many long gains on defense, but that doesn’t mean they’re invincible. The Bearcats will probably have some long pickups, but if the Hokies can keep them to a minimum, they’ll have a chance.
THE NATIONAL STAGE
You can avoid it if you want, but there’s no denying Tech’s inability to win big games. This is a 3:30 p.m., nationally televised game in an NFL stadium; history says the Hokies won’t fare too well. A few losses on the national stage to jog your memory: Clemson (twice) last season, The Sugar Bowl, Boise State, Stanford, Alabama, UNC on a Thursday night in ’09 and ECU in ’08 (that game was on ESPN and in an NFL stadium).
The Hokies are hoping to reverse that trend on Saturday, something I think they have a good chance to do. Here’s why I’m not afraid of the Bearcats:
THE RUNNING GAME
It made its first appearance of the season last week against Bowling Green, where the Hokies racked up 246 yards on the ground against the Falcons, as four different players ran for at least 45 yards during the blowout victory. Tony Gregory led the way with a career-high 68 yards, while freshman Michael Holmes and J.C. Coleman ran for 51 and 45 yards, respectively. Cincinnati’s been solid against the run so far, having only given up 123.5 yards per contest. Whether or not Tech can establish the run on Saturday will go a long way in determining the outcome of this game.