Independence Bowl preview: Hokies defense vs. Tulsa offense


Independence Bowl preview: Hokies defense vs. Tulsa offense

The Independence Bowl is just nine days away!

We looked at the matchup between Virginia Tech's offense and Tulsa's defense yesterday. Today, let's look at the Hokies' defense vs. Tulsa's offense.

Virginia Tech defense national rankings: 46th in scoring defense (24.2 points allowed per game), 77th in rushing defense (180 yards allowed per game), 9th in passing defense (173.8 yards allowed per game), 34th in total defense (353.8 yards allowed per game)

Tulsa offense national rankings: 25th in scoring offense (35.9 points per game), 63rd in rushing offense (172.92 yards per game), 11th in passing offense (329.8 yards per game), 14th in total offense (502.8 yards per game)

To say that Tulsa's defense was bad this year would be generous. It was downright terrible. How did the Golden Hurricane manage to reach a bowl game? They made it thanks to a stellar season offensively.

Junior quarterback Dane Evans has been a star for Tulsa this season and leads the AAC in passing. He has an impressive 63 percent completion percentage this season with 22 touchdown passes. Tulsa's pass attack is its strength and they will try to spread out the Hokies secondary and get the ball to wide receiver Keyarris Garrett. Garrett is the second-leading receiver in the nation with 1,451 receiving yards and is someone who steps up against better competition. Garrett hauled in 14 catches against both Oklahoma and Memphis.

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Virginia Tech's normally stingy defense is not playing up to the level we have come to expect, but they still boast a top 10 passing defense. While the pass attack is the strength of Tulsa's offense, they do have a deep backfield with D’Angelo Brewer, Zack Langer and Ramadi Warren.

The good news for Virginia Tech is that Evans is not a mobile quarterback. The bad news is that the Golden Hurricane still has plenty of options with which to take advantage of the Hokies' porous rush defense. If Tulsa is struggling to pass, they will turn to that backfield as much as they have to.

Tulsa has averaged over 35 points per game and scored at least 38 points in five of their last six, but the offense will be missing its architect.

Thanks to a prolific season, Texas set its sites on Tulsa offensive coordinator Sterlin Gilbert and did everything they could to bring him to Austin. Texas University president Greg Fenves actually flew out for an in-home visit with Gilbert to convince him to take the Texas coordinator job and it worked. As a result, Gilbert and Tulsa offensive line coach Matt Mattox will not coach in the Independence Bowl.

Can the offense survive one game without its architect? Perhaps, but considering how much Tulsa has leaned on its offense this season, it's a huge blow.

Tulsa wants to get into a shootout with Virginia Tech. Despite their talent at the skilled positions, the Hokies have not shown this season that they have the ability to match Tulsa score for score. If Bud Foster can find even moderate success against the Golden Hurricane, however, it's hard to see how Tulsa's defense will be able to contain Virginia Tech enough to overcome that.

This game will be decided by what Tulsa's offense is able to do against Foster's defense.

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Future NBA prospect Omer Yurtseven transfers to Georgetown from NC State


Future NBA prospect Omer Yurtseven transfers to Georgetown from NC State

The pieces are starting to come together for Patrick Ewing.

On Monday the Georgetown Hoyas picked up perhaps the biggest (literally and figuratively) target of the transfer market, Omer Yurtseven.

From North Carolina State, the transfer from Istanbul Turkey will have two years remaining of eligibility. Due to NCAA transfer rules, he is not allowed to play for the 2018-19 season.


Standing at 7-0, the center helped power the Wolfpack to an NCAA tournament bid this past season. Averaging 13.5 points, 6.7 rebounds, and 1.8 blocks a contest, Yurstseven earned All-ACC Third Team honors in the 2017-18 season. He also touted a 58.3 shooting percentage and was not afraid to pull it up from deep either (22 made three-pointers).

NC State lost in the first round of the NCAA Tournament to No. 8 Seton Hall, but he was limited due to foul trouble with only two points and two rebounds in 14 minutes of play.

Initially, he is the option to fill the void that Jessie Govan will leave, whether that is during this offseason or next. Already the team has lost power forward Marcus Derrickson

Yurtseven will just be another frontcourt talent for Ewing with the Hoyas.

It was widely reported that he was considering playing options, both in the United States and abroad before this announcement. Easily he has the talent to go in first round of the NBA Draft whichever year he declares.

On the same day, the Hoyas also announced the signing of four-star guard James Akinjo.

After historic season, Virginia's Tony Bennett named AP Coach of the Year


After historic season, Virginia's Tony Bennett named AP Coach of the Year

SAN ANTONIO -- Virginia coach Tony Bennett isn't going to waver from his foundation, whether it's the philosophy that built the Cavaliers into a contender or the big-picture perspective that helps him handle the sting of a historically improbable loss.

Both ends of that approach are fully on display now as he is named The Associated Press men's college basketball coach of the year.

Bennett won the honor Thursday after his Cavaliers set a program single-season record for wins, dominated the Atlantic Coast Conference and reached No. 1 in the AP Top 25 for the first time since the Ralph Sampson era. Yet that wildly successful season ended abruptly in the most unexpected way: with the Cavaliers falling to UMBC to become the first No. 1 seed to lose to a 16-seed in NCAA Tournament history.

"They experienced things a lot of guys don't," Bennett said in an interview with the AP. "That kind of success? Oh my gosh. And then that kind of loss? ... But again, their body of work deserves to be celebrated.

"And then so much of what society looks at -- it begs the question -- is it just about how you do in March? Or is it about the whole thing? It's a fair debate (on) what matters. But I told them: I wouldn't trade this team for anything. Even the experiences, as hard as they are, this is part of the process."

Bennett was the runaway winner for the award, which is being presented at the Final Four. He earned 50 of 65 votes from AP Top 25 writers with ballots submitted before the start of the NCAA Tournament.

Tennessee's Rick Barnes was second with five votes after leading the Volunteers to 26 wins and an NCAA bid despite being picked to finish 13th in the 14-team Southeastern Conference. First-year Ohio State coach Chris Holtmann was third with four votes.

This marks the second time Bennett has won the award, the other coming in 2007 when he was at Washington State.

In Bennett's ninth season, the Cavaliers (31-3) went from being picked to finish sixth in the ACC to winning the regular-season race by four games -- the first to win the ACC by that wide a margin since 2000. It then won the ACC Tournament to complete a 20-1 run against league opponents.


Virginia also reached No. 1 in the AP Top 25 for the first time since December 1982 and stayed there the final five weeks of the regular season, the last two unanimously.

And yet, the 48-year-old coach knows much of the focus will be on how things ended: that 74-54 loss to the Retrievers while playing without ACC sixth man of the year De'Andre Hunter.

Dealing with a roster of players in pained disbelief, Bennett said he has told them that they have "an unbelievable captive audience" waiting to see how they would handle it.

"I said how you respond to this will matter to your mom and dads, to your brothers, your sisters, your friends," Bennett said. "If they see that you're not fake about it, that yeah, of course you're going to be discouraged and down after a loss like that, but that you're OK. You can live with it.

"I said: you don't know the power that that's going to have in their life and in your life."

Bennett said he appreciated other coaches offering support, which included Syracuse Hall of Famer Jim Boeheim noting: "If I could hire a coach in this country and I could get Tony Bennett, there would be nobody in second place."

He said he's still reviewing what worked and what didn't, but "certainly you don't overreact" by changing everything that had brought the Cavaliers to this point.

This is, after all, a program that has been a 1-seed three times in the past five seasons with three ACC regular-season titles.

And Bennett won't be deterred from chasing more, even if it means stumbling a few more times on the way to reaching his goals.

"You better have something beyond the opinion of man or just how you feel, because this stuff is fleeting," Bennett said.

"So that's where obviously my faith is everything to me. You hear people talk about their faith in the lord and the relationship with the people that they care about, their family and their trusted friends. Those things stand the test of time. And that's what you have to draw from. And then you move on."