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Post Dawgs and Hokies

Friday December 29, 2006

It’s easy to overanalyze bowls when so much of them come down to motivation and momentum. In the case of Virginia Tech and Georgia, both finished the regular season pretty well. Both are also looking to get some momentum into next season with their young quarterbacks. These are two teams used to being on top of their conferences and playing in January, so we’ll see which comes out more ready to play. Here’s what I’m looking at in all three phases of the game:

Can Georgia hold its own against a good and opportunistic defense? Virginia Tech gives up the fewest yards per game in the nation, and it starts with a strong front line. Georgia’s offensive line comes and goes, and they’re dealing with another numbers crunch this week. They’ll need a very motivated performance from the offensive line in order to have any room in which to operate.

Can they avoid mistakes and turnovers? Georgia has been much better in their two recent wins when it comes to catching the ball and avoiding interceptions. Virginia Tech thrives on turnovers and momentum.

How will Bobo do with the spotlight on him? It’s a tough situation in which to make a debut as offensive coordinator, but Georgia fans will be scrutinizing the playcalling and offensive scheme used to counter VT’s strengths on defense.

Virginia Tech has a capable offense, but much like Georgia it hasn’t been particularly highlight-reel quality most of the season. Ore is as good of a tailback as Georgia has seen this year, and Glennon has cut down on mistakes at quarterback. Georgia gave up big rushing yardage to Tashard Choice in the season finale, but they held Auburn’s potent attack in check. VT’s offense is much more effective when aided by field position and momentum from defense and special teams, so it’s important for Georgia to make VT work for every yard they get. VT’s offense can be good, but Georgia can’t allow them to be spectacular.

Special teams:
This is expected to be an area of strength for Virginia Tech, but Georgia can have something to say about that. Brandon Coutu is back as the reliable placekicker, and we’ll see how he is able to perform in his first game back since October. The real question I have is the impact of Coutu’s return on punter Gordon Ely-Kelso. Ely-Kelso has had to handle placekicking duties down the stretch, and his punting has suffered, particularly in the Georgia Tech game. He has been an outstanding punter in the past, and Georgia will need him at the top of his game. Georgia’s return units have also made big plays this year, and one in this bowl game could dramatically change things.

I’ve already said it a dozen times in this post, but Virginia Tech thrives on momentum. When they get a head of steam from turnovers or big plays on special teams, they can be very hard to stop. Georgia went through a phase earlier in the year where punt protection was a big problem. They can’t afford to give the Hokies even an inch of opportunity in this area, or VT will take it.

Everyone is expecting this game to be close and low-scoring, but either team has the ability to blow the game open. Georgia showed their potential at Auburn, and VT has explosive potential from the defense and special teams. They have each also shown the ability to get blown out this year. The Peach…er, Chick-fil-A Bowl is usually one of the most competitive and interesting bowl games, and they have two similar teams lined up for this edition.

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