Tulane lost the AAC Championship game on Dec. 2, 26-14, to SMU. In that loss, the Mustangs, who are coming to the ACC next season along with Stanford and California, exploited a weakness against the Green Wave that is a strength of Virginia Tech.
By now we all know that the Hokies and Green Wave are going to play on Dec. 27 in the Military Bowl and prepping for Tulane, you have to think that defensive coordinator Chris Marve and head coach Brent Pry are expected to try and do to them what SMU did.
SMU's defense exposed a potential weakness of Tulane
In the AAC title game, SMU recorded seven sacks against the Green Wave and it just so happens that it is a strength of the Hokies, especially once ACC play began in late September, has been getting pressure on the opponent's quarterbacks and had success in bringing them down.
This season, Virginia Tech recorded 38 sacks and 9.5 of those were by Antwaun Powell-Ryland. The Hokies defensive line dominated Pittsburgh, Wake Forest, Syracuse, Boston College and Virginia. When they were not getting a sack, the defensive line was able to create pressure that forced interceptions and key turnovers.
In back-to-back wins over Wake Forest and Syracuse, Virginia Tech combined for 15 sacks and knocked out Orange quarterback Garrett Schrader for a couple of weeks.
Virginia Tech's offense played well and looked different this season when conference play started, however, it was their defense that was a big reason fr them getting five conference wins and becoming bowl-eligible. It was their defensive line that became dominating in their wins with Powell-Ryland leading the way.
Virginia Tech has a golden opportunity to knock off their first-ranked opponent this season with Tulane being currently ranked No. 23. Their defense has been good in the second half of the season and they have an opportunity to make life tough for the Green Wave offensive line and quarterback in Annapolis in 13 days.