Friday, September 4, 2009

Hokies Struggle Against SEC Teams
by Chris Coleman, August 28, 2009

With the season opener against Alabama only eight days away, it's about time for Virginia Tech to kick their recent habit of losing to SEC teams. The Hokies are 0-3 in their last three games against the SEC, with their last win coming against LSU in Lane Stadium in 2002.

VT vs. the SEC
Season Opp. Result
1994 Tennessee 45-23 L
1998 Alabama 38-7 W
2002 LSU 26-8 W
2004 Auburn 16-13 L
2006 Georgia 31-24 L
2007 LSU 48-7 L

With the notable exception of the LSU game in 2007 and the Gator Bowl in 1994, the Tech defense holds up well against SEC opponents. However, the offense generally doesn't fare so well.

VT's Stats vs. SEC Opponents
Opp. VT Yards Opp. Yards
Tennessee 1994 426 495
Alabama 1998 278 274
LSU 2002 231 214
Auburn 2004 375 299
Georgia 2006 189 200
LSU 2007 149 598
Averages 274.67 346.67

The Tech defense is allowing 346.67 yards per game through six games against SEC competition, which is a respectable number. That number is somewhat skewed by the 598 yards LSU rang up in 2007. In the previous four meetings with SEC teams, the Hokies allowed fewer than 300 yards per game in all four contests.

However, the offense hasn't kept up their end of the deal recently. Tech has failed to gain 200 yards of total offense in their last two games against the SEC. The Tech offense was completely outclassed in losses to Georgia and LSU. (To be fair, the defense was outclassed against LSU, as well.)

The first time the Hokies faced an SEC opponent in the Beamer Bowl Era was in the 1994 Gator Bowl against Tennessee. The Hokies faced Peyton Manning, James Stewart and a very talented team and walked away with a 45-23 loss. The Hokies had three total turnovers, and they fumbled the ball five times. The Vols had no turnovers, and they took advantage of every opportunity the Hokies gave them.

Tech got another chance against the SEC in the 1998 Music City Bowl when they faced Alabama. Neither offense did much in that game, but the Hokies walked out with a 38-7 victory thanks to two blocked punts, three interceptions and a fumble recovery. It was the perfect example of a "Beamerball" victory.

Tech followed that up with a 26-8 victory over LSU in Lane Stadium in 2002. The Hokies controlled that game from start to finish, holding the Tigers to 214 yards of total offense.

That was a very talented LSU team that went on to win the National Championship in 2003. A quick look at the box score reveals the following names for LSU: LaBrandon Toefield, Domanick Davis, Joseph Addai, Matt Mauck, Michael Clayton, Devery Henderson, Marcus Spears, Chad Lavalais, Marquise Hill, Bradie James and Randall Gay. All of those players went on to the NFL, and many have had major impacts.

The Hokies won the 2004 ACC Championship, and as a reward they got to play undefeated Auburn in the Sugar Bowl. The Hokies held the Auburn offense to 299 yards, a big accomplishment since it featured future first round picks Jason Campbell, Ronnie Brown and Cadillac Williams. Tech gained 375 yards of total offense, but they dropped a touchdown pass and missed a chip shot field goal.

The 2006 Chick-fil-A Bowl against Georgia is one of the low points for the Virginia Tech offense. The Hokies held a 21-3 halftime lead, but managed to lose the game 31-24, despite surrendering just 214 yards to the Bulldogs. Sean Glennon threw three interceptions and had a fumble behind an offensive line that couldn't block the Georgia defensive front.

The 2007 game at LSU saw another poor performance by the offense, but it was also an uncharacteristic terrible game by the defense. The Hokie D allowed almost 600 yards to the eventual National Champions. This game was more of a fluke than anything. The Tigers were obviously better than the Hokies, but not 41 points better.

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