The defense held the opponent without a second-half point for the fifth consecutive game. So it's only fitting that the defense be well represented in the Three Stars for the Hokies' Peach Bowl win over Tennessee.
First Star: DE Nekos Brown
Tough call between Brown and Jason Worilds, but I had to go with Brown, who had two sacks and a forced fumble and was in Jonathan Crompton's face most of the night. The Hokies had six sacks Thursday night, the same number Tennessee gave up in its eight SEC conference games. BCO said it should be Worilds at this spot because he was double-teamed to open up things for the other guys on the line. That may be true, but if Brown was going against a senior left tackle most of the game and was still able to put pressure on Crompton consistently.
Second Star: QB Tyrod Taylor
Jarrett Boykin was clutch and Ryan Williams did work, but Taylor was spectacularly efficient. Tennessee expected good things to happen on offense when Taylor was forced to pass and he proved them wrong. He didn't throw a touchdown pass, but still helped engineer the Tech offense to 20 second-half points even though it was without Williams for most of it.
Third Star: DT John Graves
Before the Hokies could get pressure on Crompton, they first had to stop Montario Hardesty. Holding Hardesty to 39 yards on 18 carries (2.2 ypc), Tech was able to force the Vols into obvious passing downs and letting the defensive ends pin their ears back and go after the quarterback. Leading the way in stopping the run was Graves, who was able to get penetration and disrupt the Vol run game. He finished with three tackles and two for loss, including a sack, and a forced fumble and fumble recovery with five minutes left that finished off the Vols.