2010 Virginia Tech Football: Orange Bowl vs. Stanford Q&A with Rule of Tree

Scott Allen from SB Nation's Stanford community, Rule of Tree, is here to enlighten us on the Cardinal heading into Monday's Orange Bowl. Here are my answers to his questions.

GC: Do you think this is Jim Harbaugh's last game as Stanford's coach?

ROT: I do not, but I'm less and less convinced of that with each passing day. I'm half expecting to wake up tomorrow to hear that Michigan has offered to rename the Big House What's Your Deal Field at Harbaugh Stadium, or that San Francisco is prepared to offer Patrick Willis and a future first-round pick to the Carolina Panthers for the No. 1 selection in April's draft, in which case all bets are off. No, if Andrew Luck decides to return to Stanford for another season, I think Harbaugh will too, and vice versa. In a perfect world, they would announce their joint decision to return to the Farm during a press conference after the Orange Bowl. I won't be surprised by whatever happens.

GC: Would you be more worried if the Hokies' defense is able to stop the Stanford run game or get pressure on Andrew Luck?

ROT: I'd be more worried if the Hokies were able to stop the Stanford run game because so much of what the Cardinal does on offense is predicated on its ability to move the ball on the ground. As good as Luck is, Stanford runs more than it passes, and the offensive line prides itself on wearing down the opposition over the course of the game. Many of Luck's biggest pass plays come out of play-action after Stanford has forced a team to respect the run. The fact that Luck has only been sacked five times is a credit to his offensive line, but his deceptive mobility and uncanny feel in the pocket have allowed him to turn sacks into big gains several times this season.

GC: How important is it getting Chris Owusu back for the bowl game?

ROT: The return of Owusu would be huge for the Stanford offense. Doug Baldwin emerged as Luck's go-to receiver with Owusu and Ryan Whalen battling injuries throughout the year, and has enjoyed a stellar senior season, but he doesn't possess the same game-breaking speed that Owusu does. Owusu can stretch a defense, which is especially important against a secondary as good as Virginia Tech's. He could also provide a boost to Stanford's special teams.

GC: How have the Cardinal fared against mobile quarterbacks like Tyrod Taylor in the past?

ROT: Stanford faced three quarterbacks that I would classify as mobile this season and had varying success against each one. Wake Forest's Tanner Price rushed for nearly as many yards as he passed for against the Cardinal, which sounds impressive, until you consider that Price's respective totals were 65 and 76. Oregon quarterback Darron Thomas torched Stanford for more than 350 total yards, including 117 on the ground in the Cardinal's only loss. The defense did a much better job bottling up a less-than-100-percent Jake Locker later in the season, limiting the Washington quarterback to one yard on 8 carries in a 23-0 Stanford shutout. The Cardinal has faced some good quarterbacks this season, but no one as good as Taylor.

GC: Who's the one guy on defense you think has to step up and have a big game in order to win Monday?

ROT: Outside linebacker Chase Thomas, who led the Cardinal with 7.5 sacks and 11.5 tackles for loss during the regular season, needs to help contain Taylor in order for Stanford to win. Thomas, who didn't so much as receive an honorable mention on the All-Pac-10 team, is likely eager to show that while the offense garners much of the headlines, the Cardinal can play a little defense too.

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