Sugar Bowl: Virginia Tech vs. Michigan

January 2, 2012
Sugar Bowl

Who: Virginia Tech vs. Michigan

When: 8:30 p.m. Where: Louisiana Superdome, New Orleans.

TV: ESPN. Radio: WJFK (106.7 FM), WSPZ (570 AM).

Records: Hokies 11-2;
Wolverines 10-2.

Get David Wilson the ball:  After last month’s 38-10 loss to Clemson in the ACC championship game, conference player of the year David Wilson openly complained about Virginia Tech’s play calling when he registered season lows in both carries (11) and yards (32). That shouldn’t be the case this time around, even though the strength of Michigan’s defense is its front seven. Wilson is just 29 yards shy of breaking Ryan Williams’s school record for rushing yards, and the Hokies’ coaches recognize they’ll need a big game from their junior tailback to score a victory over the Wolverines. For fans, though, it’s a double-edged sword. Wilson is pondering whether to declare for the NFL draft, and a big performance will only help his draft stock.

Make Denard Robinson throw: Slowing down Michigan quarterback Denard Robinson has dominated the Hokies’ bowl preparations after their worst defensive performance of the year against Clemson. Defensive coordinator Bud Foster said the solution will center around Virginia Tech’s ability to stop the run and turn Robinson into a passer. He’s completing just 56 percent of his passes this year and has 14 interceptions this year. That, though, is easier said than done for a player Coach Frank Beamer has compared to Michael Vick. If Robinson gets loose, it would mean another long night for Virginia Tech’s defense.

Hokies’ kicking conundrum: It has not been a good two weeks for the Hokies’ kicking game. First, starting placekicker Cody Journell was suspended indefinitely after being arrested on felony breaking-and-entering charges. Then his back-up, senior Tyler Weiss, was sent home on a bus after missing curfew during the team’s first night in New Orleans. That leaves the field-goal kicking duties to senior Justin Myer, the Hokies kickoff specialist this year. Beamer has sounded anything but confident in Myer, who has the strongest leg on the team but struggles with accuracy. Whether it will be an issue Tuesday remains to be seen, but don’t be surprised if Beamer is forced to go for it on fourth down more than he’s accustomed to.

— Mark Giannotto

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