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To deal with layoff, Hokies get physical

ATLANTA – To say nothing of the travel, distractions and often difficult opponent, perhaps the toughest aspect of playing in a bowl game is staying fresh during the month layoff after the regular season.

Virginia Tech tried to handle that problem by having its players pound on each other.

As the No. 12 Hokies (9-3) prepared to play Tennessee (7-5) in the Chick-fil-A Bowl on Thursday, they began tackling drills immediately and had the first-team offenses and defenses practice against each other.

“Hopefully that will work for us,” Hokies defensive coordinator Bud Foster said. “We want to really emphasize and make sure that we’ve kept our timing.”

Virginia Tech has altered its bowl preparations in past years.

The Hokies had lost four of five bowl games before last season, including the Orange Bowl to Kansas in the 2007 season after a lax practice schedule. But the Hokies’ changed to a more stringent regimen after that, and it paid off with a win over Cincinnati in the Orange Bowl in January.

In anticipation with its meeting with the Volunteers, Virginia Tech has been physical, physical, physical.

“We tackled every day,” Foster said. “We did all phases of the tackling. We actually brought mats out and tackled people to the ground.”

Typically, offenses have difficulty with timing in terms of throwing the ball or executing handoffs on run plays. On defense, the problems come with players’ explosion, soundness in tackling and getting off of blocks.

Virginia Tech offensive coordinator Bryan Stinespring said practices were up-tempo and mirrored game speed, adding that it was the type of competitive metabolism that “hastened getting your tempo back and the nature of playing fast and some collisions.”

Now the Hokies hope the physical approach will translate onto the field on Thursday night.

By Mark Viera  |  December 30, 2009; 12:15 PM ET
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Final Score:

Tennessee --- 45

Virginia Tech --- 13

Too bad, Hoklets.

Posted by: stephenwhelton | December 30, 2009 3:58 PM | Report abuse

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