Thursday, August 07, 2008

Prelude to a Season... #15

#15.) Virginia Tech

What You Need to Know: Virginia Tech for years longed to be in the ACC. Four years ago, the Hokies got their wish and haven't looked back since. Going to three ACC title games, winning two of them, compiling at least ten wins each of the four seasons, and finishing those seasons ranked no lower than 16th means bad news to the rest of the league. When coupled with a severe shortage of marquee teams to boost up computer rankings and league power, the Hokies always seem to be a good team, but not a great team.

This year's edition of the football squad looks to be more of the same for Beamer and company... a really good football team. But there are issues which make me hesitant to dub VT a really great team or consider them a contender for the national championship. What concerns most people, the 2-QB system that they operate with Sean Glennon and Tyrod Taylor doesn't bother me. They managed it last year and the offense has had a full spring to work out the kinks. My main concern is replacing RB Branden Ore, who has been dismissed. Backup Kenny Lewis Jr. underwent surgery in the spring on his shoulder, and will miss all of fall practice and perhaps the first two games. In the bruising ACC, having a consistent running game is a must, and the Hokies are unproven and thin in the backfield as well as wide receiver, graduating all their starters.

Defensively, only 4 starters return, but Frank Beamer is known for a vaunted stingy defense that relies on making the big plays. The defense itself will reload rather than rebuild. Finally, the schedule is not a tough one for VT, and the ACC opponents do not include Clemson. Efficient ball-moving offense, stingy defense, and a soft schedule all are good things for Virginia Tech as 2008's season dawns.

Who You Need to Know and Their 07 Stats:
QB Sean Glennon: 1,796 yds, 12 TD
QB Tyrod Taylor: 927 pass yds, 5 pass TD, 429 rush yds, 6 rush TD
LB Cam Martin: 78 tkls, 4.5 sacks

Game To Watch: Three games could cause problems... @ Florida State (10/25), Maryland (11/6), and @ Miami (11/13).

They'll Do Well If...: If the Hokies simply win the games they'll be favored in, they'll do extremely well. The offense must continue to improve under the current system and the defense must replace some hefty shoes.

Season Outlook: Most schools returning only 10 starters, with a 2 QB system, using a third-string RB to start the season would be hard pressed to win, but this Hokie team capitalizes on what it does well: creating chaos defensively and winning the games they should. Fortunately for VT, there are quite a few of those on the schedule this year. Barring a significant upset, the Hokies will start 6-0 before hitting the tough part of their schedule. There's no reason to believe the Hokies won't be shoe-ins for another ACC Coastal crown, but winning the overall ACC will be a tall order, as that road goes through a loaded Clemson team. Allowing for hiccup somewhere along the way, it's not unreasonable to expect a two-loss season and a Chic-Fil-A Bowl bid, with an outside shot at one of the at-large BCS games.

1 comment:

CWI Media & Marketing said...

A good article, though I have a couple of points of contention.

1) Nebraska will be another game that will cause problems for the Hokies. Not because Nebraska is a great team, but because it's AT Nebraska. I know they gave up 70+ points at home last season, but there's a new coach in town and I don't see that happening again.

2) Last year Tech didn't win the games it was supposed to win. The had BC down 10-0 in the 4th quarter and gave up two late TDs to let BC steal a win in Blacksburg. The Hokies are notorious for losing games they "should" win, i.e. Temple, Miami of Ohio, the historic collapse against the Hoos in '98, the list goes on.