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Oklahoma State’s receiving corps and passing game
The season opener was months ago — ages, in football time — but the memory of the West Virginia game hasn’t escaped Virginia Tech coach Justin Fuente as his team readies itself for Thursday’s Camping World Bowl showdown with another Big 12 opponent, Oklahoma State.

The Hokies’ defense stood tall in the first half against the up tempo Mountaineers in September, but a sporadic offensive effort caught up to Virginia Tech in the second half, when the defense wore down against West Virginia’s rapid fire attack.

Tech escaped from FedEx Field with a 31 24 victory after a gassed defense made a late defensive stand, but it took all three phases — an offense that came around in the second half, a defense that stood tall on third down and in big spots, and special teams that dominated field position — to get the job done.

With a high flying Cowboys offense that resembles West Virginia’s on tap in the Camping World Bowl, Fuente thinks he’ll need another group effort from his No. 22 Hokies 9 3 . That will be particularly important for the shorthanded Hokies https://www.cowboysdaclub.com/chris-jone...y-c-5.html, who are missing their all time leading receiver, their leading rusher, their regular left tackle and a couple of injured defensive starters .

“I just think it’s going to take a complete effort to handle all that,” Fuente said.

The game offers a unique contrast in styles between the ACC and Big 12 squads. That pairing makes this year’s version of the Camping World Bowl among the more intriguing bowl matchups outside of the New Year’s Six games.

No. 19 Oklahoma State 9 3 , led by the nation’s leading passer Mason Rudolph and Biletnikoff Award winning receiver James Washington, enters the game averaging 46.3 points per game, third most in the country.

“Probably one of the more explosive, if not the most https://www.cowboysdaclub.com/ryan-switz...y-c-7.html explosive offense we’ll face all year,” Hokies defensive coordinator Bud Foster said.

That doesn’t mean the Hokies are shying away from the challenge.

Though Oklahoma State’s receiving corps and passing game is as potent as any Tech has faced, the Hokies have a veteran cornerback trio in Brandon Facyson, Greg Stroman and Adonis Alexander that won’t back away .

“I don’t know if we’re eager. I think that’s just what we do,” cornerbacks coach Brian Mitchell said. “If you’re in a Bud Foster defense, you’re going to play man coverage. And it’s going to be tight coverage. And I think one of our competitive advantages is we’ve got some bigger, physical corners that a lot of teams don’t have the advantage of having. … I like to think what we do in our conference, you see so many different offenses, that we’ll be well prepared.”

Oklahoma State coach Mike Gundy sees it, struck by the fact that the Hokies have allowed only 13.5 points per game for the entire season, fifth fewest in the country.

“This could very well be the best defense we’ve competed against,” Gundy said. “There’s different ways to make that opinion. Sometimes you do it on athleticism. Sometimes you do it on scheme.

“But when you look at what they’ve accomplished with the group that they have, in the end it comes down to do you keep them from scoring or not? And over a 12 game season, they’re only giving up 13.5 points. That’s not easy to do.”
There’s a flip side to this conversation that’s been largely ignored in the leadup to this game. How will Virginia Tech’s struggling offense fare against an Oklahoma State defense that hasn’t stopped anybody this year?

The Cowboys are giving up 30.1 points per game this year, 86th most nationally, having allowed 30 or more points to six of their nine Big 12 opponents, including 40 plus points four times.

The Hokies Joey Ivie Jersey, however, have sputtered offensively in the second half of the season as injuries chipped away at their lineup and the competition got tougher. Tech hasn’t scored more than 24 points since a 59 7 rout of North Carolina in mid October, one that featured three non offensive touchdowns.

That drop in production doesn’t all fall on redshirt freshman quarterback Josh Jackson, who has lost key supplemental pieces along the way, but he undoubtedly hit a rough patch late in the season.

He threw for 17 touchdowns and four interceptions through eight games but had just two touchdowns and four picks in the final four.

Still, for his debut season , Jackson threw for 2,743 yards, 19 touchdowns and eight interceptions. His confidence never wavered even when the Hokies had their ups and downs.

“The best thing he did was he was able to execute the system, get people lined up, do what he was supposed to https://www.cowboysdaclub.com/cooper-rus...y-c-6.html, make the plays when they were there and take care of the ball,” offensive coordinator Brad Cornelsen said.

“There’s a confidence level that comes with guys like that, that have a calm presence about them. There’s got to be some real self confidence in there, and that’s what he’s got. And he’s coachable and has the ability to process and slow things down ... He’s going to have to play well and give us a chance to keep the chains moving and put some points on the board.”

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