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Prelude to a Season: #10

10.) Virginia Tech Hokies

Virginia TechWhat You Should Know
For Virginia Tech, it has been an amazing decade of success. After playing for a national title in 1999, Tech has continued its run of success and prosperity, even if the extra large hardware has eluded them. Five straight years of 10 wins or more, a conference that is ripe for the taking, and 16 returning starters all make for more continued success for Virginia Tech.

Entering his 23rd season, Frank Beamer sits at 177-89-2, and with a reputation of hard-nosed defensive teams that do just well enough on offense to win games, and plenty of them. This season, the Hokies are gunning for their 3rd consecutive ACC title and their 4th BCS Bowl game in 6 years. The Hokies joined the ACC in 2004, and have not finished below #19 in the final poll since moving. That’s an impressive feat, and one the Hokies are in a great position to add to this season.

Last year, the Hokie offense was a two-headed attack with senior Sean Glennon and sophomore Tyrod Taylor splitting time and largely proving somewhat ineffective. The lone stability was freshman Darren Evans, who ran roughshod over the ACC on his way to an exceptionally impressive first season, including a Bowl record 158 yards for the Hokies in an upset of Big East champ Cincinnati. This season, nearly everyone returns on the offensive side for the Hokies, with the exception of two offensive linemen (C Ryan Shuman and LG Nick Marshman). Replacing those two will be easy for the Hokies as they are a deep and talented roster of agile, athletic offensive linemen capable of playing whatever position is needed. At quarterback, Taylor gets the reins of the offense, and with it, the ability to lead the team for the entirety of drives and games. No longer splitting time with Glennon, though, Taylor must prove accurate and capable in the passing game, an aspect he has struggled with in his first two seasons. Evans returns with a season under his belt and very capable of setting himself up to be the leading rusher in school history his junior season of 2010 with a season like last year. The receiving corp for the Hokies is deep and talented, with no player a clear cut stand out, but all capable of excellent route running and pass catching.

Virginia Tech has long been known for their defense, and the 2009 version of the Hokies will be no different. They return 7 starters, but need to replace 2nd Team All American Macho Harris and 2nd Team All ACC DE Orion Martin. Also gone for the Hokies are two key inside linebackers in Purnell Sturdivant and Brett Warren, Virgina Tech’s top two tacklers from 2008. Despite the losses, this is still a defensive force to be reckoned with, as the Hokies start 9 seniors or juniors. Additionally, the Virginia Tech hallmark through the years has been a frenetic defense capable or replacing losses easily and never missing a beat. For this defense, they play in a conference where there are no overpowering offenses, and they should be even better than last year’s unit which gave up 16.7 points per game, as well as allowed over 100 yards rushing for the first time since 2004.

For the Hokies, their schedule is surprisingly challenging. Their 4 non-conference games are Marshall and Nebraska at home as well as a late season road contest against East Carolina along with a season opening battle against Alabama in Atlanta. For the Hokies, a loss to Bama drops them out of national title contention essentially in week 1, while a large win propels them as a very realistic darkhorse for the national title. In ACC play, Virginia Tech’s Atlantic Division opponents are Maryland, NC State, and Boston College, with only the Terps on the road. Their Coastal Division foes shake out unfavorably for the home schedule, with Duke, Georgia Tech, and Virginia all on the road and Miami and North Carolina at home in Lane Stadium. No game is totally unwinnable, and the Hokies have a good chance at something special because of their challenging schedule and resulting computer love given victories.

Who You Need Know & Their 08 Stats
RB Darren Evans: 287 att, 1265 yds, 11 TDs
QB Tyrod Taylor: 147 att, 738 yds, 7 TDs, 99-173, 1036 yds, 2 TDs, 7 INTs
DE Jason Worilds: 62 tkls, 8 sacks, 10.5 TFL

Game to Watch
The two most challenging games for Virginia Tech are their season opener against Alabama (9/5) and their late season showdown with Georgia Tech (10/17). Both those contests take the Hokies away from a tremendous home field, and both will prove the key matchups to achieving their goals of national excellence and ACC dominance.

They’ll Do Well If…
… Taylor figures out how to pass the ball accurately without turning it over. The defense has far more losses, but the system in place ensures a competitive unit with little to no learning curve. Offensively, Taylor now finds himself the man in charge of a team in need of leadership and offensive skill to make life easier for Darren Evans.

Season Outlook
For the Hokies, anything short of an ACC Championship and subsequent BCS appearance would have to be let down. Luckily for them, they have the schedule, the talent, and the coaching to do just that. In toss up games against Georgia Tech and Alabama, the Hokies will go 1-1, and will stumble at least once in the parity-laden ACC. Regardless of those losses, 10-2 puts the Hokies in control of the ACC Coastal and given victories against both Alabama and Georgia Tech, and outside contender for the national title.

2 Responses

  1. 1. The key to achieving the high goals this year is the OL: you didn’t mention it. If the OL is finally in place as expected, Taylor and is skilled receivers will be successful.

    2. The biggest omission is in RB’s. Darren Evans is a hoss, but there are 2 phenoms lined up to play also. Ryan Williams (rFr) & David Wilson true (freshman) are both game changer types. David Wilson is so good I don’t think they can keep him off the field this year. Some feel Wilson is the best talent since Kevin Jones!

    So your thoughts on Taylor running so much this year is simply wrong. VT has the backfield now to rival the ones of the past, and they don’t want Taylor to run unless necessary to prevent injury.

    3. I disagree with your statement that VT would be a “dark-horse” contender if it beats Alabama big. If VT wins that game big, I think “dark-horse” doesn’t apply anymore than it would to any other team ranked within the top 7.

    I was looking at #7 by coaches preseason poll which differers from your #10. Perhaps they know more about the RB situation at VT than you did.

  2. […] Tech Previews. Over the Pylon has VT number 10 in their pre-season countdown and for a blog with no invested interest in VT they do a nice job previewing the Hokies. And we […]

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