- Andrea Adelson, ESPN Staff Writer
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Leave it to Rutgers coach Kyle Flood to deliver one of the biggest keys for the Russell Athletic Bowl against Virginia Tech later this month.
Beamer ball vs. Rutgers ball, perhaps?
"We’re well aware of the reputation going into this game that Virginia Tech has of being a really fine special-teams outfit and that will certainly be one of the great matchups in the game," Flood said. "It’s going to be two teams that really rely heavily on special teams to affect the outcome of the game."
Indeed. Rutgers has won the last several years the way Frank Beamer has won -- with a strong emphasis on special teams and an opportunistic defense. Beamer ball has helped the Hokies get to 20 straight bowl games. Rutgers ball, if you will, helped the Scarlet Knights win a share of their first Big East title this year.
But the special-teams portion of Beamer ball has not been quite as productive in recent years. The Hokies had zero blocked kicks this season, and one punt/one kickoff return for scores all year.
Rutgers, meanwhile, has been one of the best when it comes to blocks, so it is safe to say that the Scarlet Knights have overtaken Virginia Tech in a category the Hokies used to own on an annual basis. Look at the numbers: Rutgers is tied for the national lead with UCLA in blocked kicks this year, with eight.
Since 2009, Rutgers leads the nation in blocked kicks with 31. In the same time span, Virginia Tech has two blocked kicks. The last time the Hokies even had a block was against Appalachian State in the season opener last year, when Kyle Fuller blocked a punt in the end zone.
Rutgers has been more productive defensively, too. The Scarlet Knights have two interceptions returned for touchdowns this year; Virginia Tech has not had one since 2010. You could say Flood has out-Beamer'd Beamer this year. Now we get the ultimate test -- whether Flood can do it again in Orlando later this month.
5dAndrea Adelson and Matt Fortuna