For the final time, Frank Beamer will lead the Virginia Tech Hokies on the road against the rival Virginia Cavaliers in the 97th edition of the Commonwealth Cup. At 5-6, the Hokies know a win will guarantee them a bowl game spot that most likely will be a spot in the Belk Bowl while the Cavaliers most likely are playing their final regular season game for head coach Mike London.
Virginia Tech will look to extend their bowl streak to 23 seasons, and their winning streak over Virginia to 12 while the Cavaliers to end the second streak for certain, and the first if enough teams get to 6-6. With that said, here are our three Hokies to watch against Virginia.
RB Travon McMillian
The North Carolina Tar Heels were able to slow down redshirt freshman Travon McMillian last week as the Hokies' top running back only had 21 carries for 80 rushing yards and an average of 3.8 yards per carry. McMillian's 80 rushing yards were his lowest number of yards in a single game since Virginia Tech played Pittsburgh, the last time McMillian didn't receive at least 10 carries.
After the game, Scot Loeffler told media that McMillian was banged up near the end of the game leading to him not playing at all at the end of the game. However, McMillian is ready to go this week and will have plenty of motivation in not only looking to bounce back this week, but also have a big game against Virginia Tech's biggest rival to put the Hokies in a bowl game.
After being held to 3.2 yards per carry at Boston College, McMillian bounced back in the next game at Georgia Tech with 24 carries for 135 rushing yards, 2 rushing touchdowns, and an average of 5.6 yards per carry. Virginia's rush defense also is below-average as they give up 4.7 yards per carry, ranking them 96th in the nation.
This feels like the stage for McMillian to make a last statement that he should receive some sort of recognition from the ACC in what has been a breakout year for the former quarterback. No one should be surprised if McMillian has his best game of the season against Virginia Tech's biggest rival.
Whoever Covers UVA RB Taquan Mizzell
Taquan Mizzell is the top running back for Virginia as the junior has carried the ball at least 13 times in 8 of 11 games. Mizzell hasn't been great on the ground as he is averaging only 4.2 yards per carry, but that is not what has made the Virginia Beach native effective.
Mizzell has made plenty of plays in the passing game as Mizzell leads the Cavaliers with 68 receptions along with having 671 receiving yards, 9.9 yards per catch, and 4 receiving touchdowns. Mizzell has proven to be a much-bigger therat in the passing game than the running game for Virginia.
Bud Foster and the Virginia Tech defense will have to put together a game-plan that involves a cornerback, safety, or someone with a defensive back background to cover Mizzell especially with the strong possibility that UVA's #1 WR Canaan Severin won't play after being listed as questionable.
Chuck Clark seems like a likely candidate to cover Mizzell along with former defensive back and linebacker Anthony Shegog who has been used more in more as a man coverage linebacker instead of Ronny Vandyke. Even cornerback Terrell Edmunds could be a possibility with Brandon Facyson not on the injury list for this game.
Whoever covers Mizzell will have to have the speed to stay up with him along with making sure they make the necessary tackles. Mizzell is one of those change-of-pace runners that can flip a game upside down if he can break just one tackle.
Foster and the Hokies need to have a game plan ready to contain Mizzell and prevent him from doing any significant damage.
Once again, this one is simple. Win this one for Frank and let his run end in a bowl game after a 12th-straight victory over UVA.