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You can read the entire Virginia Tech preview in Athlon Sports' 2011 ACC magazine, available for purchase now at the Athlon Sports store.
COLLEGE FOOTBALL PRESEASON TOP 25
#7 Virginia Tech
ACC Coastal PREDICTION
HEAD COACH: Frank Beamer , 198–95–2 (24 years) | OFF. COORDINATOR: Bryan Stinespring | DEF. COORDINATOR: Bud Foster
Sophomore Logan Thomas takes over for Tyrod Taylor, Virginia Tech’s all-time leader in passing yards. Thomas might not be as shifty as Taylor, and he certainly won’t have Taylor’s understanding of the position in Year 1. But Thomas, who stands 6'6" and weighs 245 pounds, is five inches taller than Taylor and should have a better view of receivers cutting across the middle.
Tailbacks Ryan Williams and Darren Evans left early for the NFL. Now, it’s junior David Wilson’s turn to see if he can match their accomplishments. Evans ran for 1,265 yards in 2008, an ACC freshman record. Williams ran for 1,655 yards in 2009, a school record. Wilson is an athletic marvel who has proven himself capable of being a big-play threat. He carried 113 times for 619 yards and five touchdowns last season, and caught 15 passes for 234 yards and four touchdowns. He also had kickoff returns for touchdowns of 90 and 92 yards.
The Hokies don’t pass the ball very often — 38 percent of the time last season, when Taylor blossomed into a complete quarterback. But they have an experienced group of wide receivers. Senior Jarrett Boykin is the best and should hold school records for career catches and yards by season’s end.
The Hokies return four of five offensive line starters, including senior Blake DeChristopher, a fourth-year starter at right tackle. They should be deeper up front, which will benefit Thomas.
Virginia Tech should be favored over Florida State for the 2011 ACC crown.
It’s not too early to say that sophomore James Gayle might be Tech’s next great defensive end, following the likes of Chris Ellis, Darryl Tapp and Corey Moore. At tackle, sophomore Derrick Hopkins was dominant during spring practices. But coordinator Bud Foster wants more production from his outside linebacker spots in order for the Hokies to improve their run defense.
While junior Bruce Taylor should be one of the ACC’s best linebackers, Tech’s questions are at the Backer and Whip outside linebacker positions. At Backer, sophomore Tariq Edwards takes over for Lyndell Gibson, who decided to transfer after an inconsistent 2010 season. Edwards should be rangier and faster than Gibson. Last season, Foster essentially eliminated his Whip in favor of a nickel package, because Jeron Gouveia-Winslow wasn’t good enough in pass coverage. But the nickel had liabilities in blitzing and run defense, so Foster wants to get back to using the Whip more, as long as that player can thrive in pass coverage. To that end, Gouveia-Winslow and fellow junior Alonzo Tweedy both impressed during spring.
If junior cornerback Jayron Hosley plays as well as he did last season, you have to think he’ll turn pro. He was an All-American at the field corner spot, but with the departure of Rashad Carmichael, he likely will move to the boundary, which requires more man-to-man defense.
David Wilson, RB It’s his turn to be the every-down back, probably the most important role in Virginia Tech’s offense.
Bruce Taylor, ILB He led Tech last season with 91 tackles, including 15.5 for a loss, and also had six sacks.
Jayron Hosley, CB Might not grab nine INTs again, as opposing quarterbacks figure to throw away from him.
|Sept. 3rd||Appalachian State|
|Sept. 10th||at East Carolina|
|Sept. 17th||Arkansas State|
|Sept. 24th||at Marshall|
|Oct. 15th||at Wake Forest|
|Oct. 22nd||Boston College|
|Oct. 29th||at Duke|
|Nov. 10th||at Georgia Tech|
|Nov. 17th||North Carolina|
|Nov. 26th||at Virginia|
The past four seasons, the Hokies debuted a new kicker — and each time, it was a fifth-year senior. That probably won’t be the case this season, as sophomore Cody Journell leads the competition for the job.
Even with a new quarterback, Virginia Tech should be the class of the Coastal Division. The schedule sets up favorably, with four winnable non-conference games to open the season. The Hokies also host Miami and won’t play Florida State or NC State during the regular season. They’re a dark horse national title contender.