With the College Football season now less than 30 days away from getting started, GDB's resident expert Young Swole will begin unleashing his preseason top 25. Today we look at the Virginia Tech Hokies.
Despite one of the worst tragedies ever to strike a college campus, the Virginia Tech football team still won the ACC Conference and made it to a BCS bowl. A lot of talented either graduated or was kicked off the team this past offseason making VA Tech one of the most unknown entities in the entire Top 25. We all know how this program reloads though, which means that the Hokies will still be a forced to be reckoned with in the ACC.
Offense: With the Hokies offense, it all boils down to which quarterback will be behind center. Sean Glennon is the incumbent, but anyone who knows anything about football can tell pretty quickly that he is a pretty awful player. His decision making is terrible and he is inaccurate which if you didn't know is a bad combination. Somehow he is still the probable starter this season despite the challenge of sophomore Tyrod Taylor. Taylor is much more athletic and despite making some mistakes, at least he isn't a senior making them. I know most Hokie fans want Taylor to start and I agree with them, he is their best chance for offensive success this year. VA Tech lost a ton of skill players too including Branden Ore and all three starting receivers plus their top returning wide reciever. The loss of Ore will not be big because the Hokies always have strong running backs and the offensive line should be much better this year. Wide receiver is more problematic though, and with Brandon Dillard out for the season with injury, its going to be up to some really young guys to get open and make players. Make no mistake, this is going to be a smash-mouth offense content to play a ball-control style and lean heavily on the defense.
Defense: Bud Foster has to be considered one of the top Defensive Coordinator's in all of CFB, which is why I have no doubt that the Hokies defense will be just as dominant as year's past despite losing some really good players. The two biggest holes to fill will be defensive end Chris Ellis, who was their most effective pass rusher, and linebacker Vince Hall, who was their most consistent defender last year. The secondary should be in fine shape with All-Conference players Macho Harris and Kam Chancellor returning, and I have no doubts that the new linebackers will step right in Hall and Xavier Adibi's shoes. If the Hokies can get solid line play and pressure opposing quarterbacks, then there should be little to no fall off in defensive play.
Coaching: Frank Beamer and Bud Foster are two of the most respected coaches in college football and its for coaching teams just like how this 2008 edition is going to be. On paper it looks like as if most of the talent and star-power has left, but Beamer and Foster always develop new players to fill the roles left by the departing talent. Combine that with Virginia Tech's superior special team play and the lack of an intimidating conference, and there doesn't seem to be a reason why the young Hokie talent cannot be coached up and contend for another ACC Title.
Predicted Schedule and Outcomes:
East Carolina - W
Furman - W
Georgia Tech - W
@ North Carolina - L
@ Nebraska - W
Western Kentucky - W
@ Boston College - L
@ Florida State - L
Maryland - W
@ Miami - W
Duke - W
Virginia - W
The Hokies are going to be in a lot of close games this year, which favors teams with good defense and special teams which they both have. In other words, the same formula for success that has made Virginia Tech an ACC Power should be effective this year too. It doesn't hurt that the Hokies avoid the 2 other best teams in the ACC (Clemson and Wake Forest), and go up against many teams that will be just as young as they are. There are going to be some slip-ups this year, especially if Glennon is the starter. But I think this team is going to get a lot better as the season goes on and should end the season with a 9-3 record and on a high note because the back end of the schedule is about as easy as it can get. From there, its a probable showdown in the ACC Championship with Wake or Clemson, which would have to be considered a successful season in Blacksburg.