Virginia Tech and Sugar Bowl Preview 2012

This will be the first meeting between the Wolverines and the Hokies, and Michigan's second Sugar Bowl Trip. They lost to Auburn, 7-9, in 1984. Michigan is 15-2 against the ACC, 6 different opponents, with losses to North Carolina 15-17 in the 1979 Gator Bowl, and 1966 regular season loss to North Carolina, 7-21. Virginia Tech has only played one Big Ten opponent, Indiana, in 1993 and won. The Big Ten holds a 71-49-2 advantage over ACC opponents. Michigan is a 3 point favorite.

On Offense, everything starts for the Hokies with Quarterback Logan Thomas. He is 6'6" and 254 lbs., big and fast and completed 215 of 363 for 2799 yards, 19 TDs and 9 picks in 13 games, and ran 137 times for 410 yards and another 10 TDs after 15 sacks were deducted from his total. Thomas had a 46% 3rd down conversion and 75% red zone conversion rate, and held an 8 minute time of possession advantage over their opponents as a result of their ball control offense. Their running back, David Wilson, is ranked #7 nationally with 1627 net yards in 266 attempts. Wilson caught 21 passes for 126 yards and another TD. Wilson ran for 125 yards per game, and Logan averages 247 yards in total offense. The Hokies are ranked 31st in rushing offense averaging 189 yard per game, and 38th in total offense with 416 yards per game; however, they were only 55th in scoring offense as their red zone touchdown conversion rate is only 53%. Logan's favorite targets are wideouts, Jarrett Boykin and Danny Coale; they average 60 yards per game each and have 8 TDs in 13 games. Their backups are D.J. Coles and Marcus Davis, and they have another 8 TDs. Those four receivers have 172 receptions in 13 games. Senior Chris Drager is the Tight End. The offensive line is led by Senior Right Tackle Blake DeChristopher, Senior Right Guard Jaymes Brooks, Senior Left Guard Greg Nosal and Senior Left Tackle Andrew Lanier; Sophomore Andrew Miller is the center. DeChristopher and Willson made 1st Team All-ACC, Thomas and Brooks made 2nd team and Nosal was honorable mention.

On Defense, they are led by Sophomore Rover (Strong Safety) Antone Exum; he has 85 tackles, two forced fumbles, an interception, a sack and 10 pass break ups. Senior Free Safety Eddie Whitley has 78 tackles, Sophomore Cornerback Kyle Fuller has 64 tackles, 15 for loss including 5 sacks, an interception, a forced fumble, 5 quarterback hits and 5 pass break ups. Junior Cornerback Jayron Hosley has 59 tackles, 2 forced fumbles and 8 pass break ups. Their defensive backfield is ranked 13th in the nation in pass efficiency defense. Senior Chris Hill and Freshman Detrick Bonner may also see action. Up front, Sophomore Defensive End James Gayle has 18 quarterback hits, 11.5 tackles for loss including 7 sacks; J.R. Collins is the other defensive end, and he has 28 quarterback hits, 9 tackles for loss, 6 sacks. Freshman Luther Maddy and Sophomore Derrick Hopkins are the tackles. Tyrel Wilson, Zach McCray and Freshman Corey Marshall could also see action on the defensive line. Sophomores Jack Tyler and Tariq Edwards man the inside linebacker positions, and Junior Alonzo Tweedy is the outside linebacker. Senior Barquell Rivers may also see action. Junior Bruce Taylor missed the last 5 games of the year due to a sprained foot, and his availability for the Sugar Bowl is unclear. As a unit, they are ranked 11th nationally with 38 sacks. The Hokies are ranked #17 nationally in rushing defense, #12 in total defense and #8 in scoring defense. They are tough to run against, and create havoc in passing situations plus they cover well. This will be a challenging group for us to execute our offensive game plan on. Like the old George Perles Spartan defense, they use their defensive tackles to mess up offensive blocking schemes. Gayle, Hosley and Whitley all made 2nd Team All-ACC, Collins, Taylor and Exum made honorable mention.

Special Teams are led by placekicker, Cody Journell; he is 14 of 17 on field goals, but his long is only 42 yards; he has missed four 50 yarders, but attempted two 57 yarders so he has a leg to hit the long ones. Journell has hit 45 of 46 extra points. Journell was arrested and charged with breaking and entering so he won't play in the Sugar Bowl. Their backup kicker, Tyler Weiss, missed curfew and was sent home. Senior Justin Myer will handle all kicking duties; has averaged 66.8 yards in 73 attempts on kickoffs with 31 touchbacks; he has only kicked one out of bounds. Their net punting has been pretty bad this season, Freshman Michael Branthover and Junior Scott Demler have shared the duties with wide receiver Danny Coale; they have accounted for 60 punts and only an average of 36.8 yards per punt with 14 of those downed inside the 20. As a result, they are ranked 108th nationally in net punting, last in their conference. Wilson handles kickoff returns and Hosley the punt returns; the Hokies are ranked 99th in kickoff returns and 37th in punt return with Hosley averaging 12 yards in 17 returns. Frank Beamer's special teams have always been excellent, and one can expect a great punt rush in an attempt to block one of Hagerup's punts. Beamer won 11 letters in 3 sports at Virginia Tech 1966-68, and his team's penchant for non-offensive touchdowns has affectionately been termed as "Beamer Ball." 35 different special teams players have scored TDs during his 24 year tenure since 1987. Beamer holds the distinction as both the winningest current head football coach in NCAA Division I, and the longest tenured now that Paterno was fired.

Michigan's biggest test will be on defense in containing the Hokie ground game. Clemson was successful doing this twice, and their defense was solid limiting the Hokies to 3 and 10 points in their two games. If we are able to do this, the offense must come up like they did against Ohio State and Nebraska in our final two games with a 30+ effort. I don't think the Hokies will be able to stop a healthy Denard Robinson, and Michigan ground game that should be prepared to block the Virginia Tech defense. I think with four weeks to prepare for this one, and facing tough Big Ten defenses will help us prevail.

Michigan 34 Virginia Tech 24

Virginia Tech and Sugar Bowl Preview (Games Notes for Sugar Bowl, Virginia Tech Game Notes for Michigan and Sugar Bowl Guide)

Sugar Bowl Walk Through

Brady Hoke Press Conference on January 2

Inside Michigan Football: Sugar Bowl Preview

Picture Day

Practice in the Super Dome

Greg Mattison on December 31

Day 3 in New Orleans

Day 2 in New Orleans

Day 1 in New Orleans

Michigan Lands in New Orleans

Schembechler Hall South in New Orleans

Al Borges Adjusts to Michigan Offense

Sugar Bowl Preparation in New Orleans

Michigan Football Holiday Break with Aaron Wellman

Heinager, Brink and Beyer won't play in Sugar Bowl due to injuries

Junior Hemingway Interview on December 23

Brady Hoke Interview on December 22

Al Borges Interview on December 20

Greg Mattison Interview

Special Sugar Bowl Uniform