Tuesday, January 3, 2012
Sugar Bowl: Three keys for Michigan
By Adam Rittenberg
Here's a look at three keys for No. 13 Michigan against No. 11 Virginia Tech in the Allstate Sugar Bowl tonight in New Orleans.
1. Get "Shoelace" going early: Michigan quarterback Denard Robinson ended the season playing his best football, putting together the best two-game stretch in his career against Nebraska and Ohio State. He has had more than five weeks off, so it will be interesting to see if he can settle into a rhythm early in the game. If he does, he'll quickly gain confidence and put some doubt in Virginia Tech's young defense, which was shredded by Clemson in its most recent performance. The Hokies want to make Robinson one-dimensional, and Robinson will have to make good decisions in the passing game against a defense that likes to pressure.
2. Smother David Wilson: Michigan didn't play Wisconsin this season, so Virginia Tech's Wilson is most likely the best running back the Wolverines have faced all season. Coach Brady Hoke has raved about the Hokies star all week, and it's clear Michigan will cater its defense toward stopping No. 4. Wilson comes off of his worst performance this season, as he rushed for only 32 yards in the ACC title game and afterward questioned the play-calling. If Michigan can smother him early, frustration could set in for Wilson. Strong tackling is a huge theme for Michigan against both Wilson and mammoth Hokies quarterback Logan Thomas.
3. Don't believe the (lack of) Hokie hype: The Sugar Bowl's selection of Virginia Tech drew nationwide criticism, and few think the Hokies actually belong in this game after their collapse against Clemson. Michigan can't buy into the Hokie hate and take Frank Beamer's team lightly. Virginia Tech has been on the BCS stage in three of the past four seasons, while Michigan hasn't played in a big bowl since after the 2006 campaign. The Wolverines aren't good enough to take anyone lightly, and while Hoke isn't the type of coach to let complacency set in, Michigan needs to respect Virginia Tech and come with the necessary focus.