Throughout the 2013 season, the Virginia Tech Hokies have enjoyed the services of one of the toughest defenses in all of college football. They have been hindered by an offense that has struggled to put points on the board. That puts added pressure on the defense to keep the scoring to a minimum in order to give VT any shot at winning games in 2013. When they face off with the UCLA Bruins in the Hyundai Sun Bowl on December 31, that means containing Bruins’ QB Brett Hundley at all costs.
Hundley has been a dynamic driving force for the UCLA offense all season long and continues to develop into one of the premier dual-threat quarterbacks in the country. On the season, he completed 67.8 percent of his passes for 2,845 yards with 22 touchdowns and nine interceptions while rushing for 587 yards and nine more touchdowns on the ground. He even caught a touchdown pass this season, adding to his already impressive college resume. As he goes, the UCLA offense goes which makes him the No. 1 priority for the Virginia Tech defense.
The Hokies’ defense is built to slow down players like Hundley, however. They are able to generate pressure with their defensive line and don’t rely on blitzes to get to the quarterback. That allows pressure to be generated without opening up big windows for Hundley to throw to to beat the blitz. By bringing just four, VT can drop more defenders into coverage on passing downs and close the throwing lanes down more quickly, giving Hundley smaller windows to throw to. Against the run, having a dominant defensive line will occupy blockers and allow the talented linebackers of Virginia Tech to flow to the football and make plays.
Luckily for Virginia Tech, the blueprint on exactly how to limit Hundley has been put on film. When UCLA went on the road to play the Stanford Cardinal, the Bruins struggled to get their offense on track and managed a season-low 10 points in the 24-10 loss. The Cardinal were able to get after Hundley with their defensive line, took away the quick easy routes underneath, and stayed in their rush lanes to minimize his room to run from the pocket. Hundley finished the day completing just 24 of 39 passes for 192 yards with one touchdown and two interceptions while rushing for just 27 yards.
That has to be the type of game that Virginia Tech plays against UCLA to give them a chance in the Sun Bowl. If UCLA can get things rolling on offense, the Hokies haven’t proven capable of scoring enough points to keep pace. The VT defense has to keep the Bruins off of the scoreboard and hope they can get just enough out of their offense to pull off a win. The only chance that the Hokies have in this one is to make the game a defensive showdown. Does Virginia Tech have enough to slow down the UCLA offensive attack?