The Christmas holiday has passed, and both Virginia Tech and Virginia are officially in game-prep mode for their respective bowl games. The Hokies (9-3) will face Oklahoma State in the Camping World Bowl in Orlando, Florida, while the Cavaliers face a far different team in a far different climate when they meet Navy in the Military Bowl.
Bronco Mendenhall’s squad will not only be facing the Midshipmens’ triple-option attack, they’ll be doing it in frigid temperatures. The high at kickoff is expected to only reach the high 20’s. “We know what the weather’s going to be like, we know what the conditions will be like, we know what (Navy’s) offense is going to do, we know what the defense is going to do,” said safety Quin Blanding, who’s a graduate of Bayside High School in Virginia Beach.
“We just got to go out there and play our game.”
Justin Fuente could be the first coach since Ralph Friedgen (2001, 2002) to win 10 games in his first two seasons. Bud Foster’s defense will have its hands full defending the top passing attack in the nation. Oklahoma State quarterback Mason Rudolph has put up more passing yards (4,553) than Heisman Trophy winner Baker Mayfield, though Mayfield has thrown 41 touchdown passes to Rudolph’s 35.
Leading the charge at linebacker for the Hokies will be Virginia Beach’s Andrew Motuapuaka (Salem High School), who will wear the coveted no. 25 jersey, worn by former head coach Frank Beamer, awarded to the top player on special teams or defense.
“Last year I thought I was going to get it at least one time,” said Motuapuaka. “But I guess having it two times this year makes up for last year. So, it’s cool.”
Fuente had nothing but praise for the senior. “I can’t say enough good things about Andrew, quite honestly,” he said. “His work ethic, toughness and dedication to this program is unmatched. I can’t think of anybody more fitting to get a chance to wear it.”
The Hoos will kickoff at 1:00 pm, while the Hokies will follow soon after, kicking off their game at 5:15.