Tuesday, July 31, 2007
Virginia Tech Preview
2006 Results: 10-3 overall, 6-2 ACC (2nd Coastal Division); lost to Georgia 31-24 in the Chick-fil-A Bowl
Offense: The 2007 Hokie offense will live or die with 2nd-year starting QB Sean Glennon. His underwhelming 2006 campaign (56% completion rate, 11 TD, 11 INT) was punctuated by a Van de Velde-ian collapse in the second half of the Chick-fil-A Bowl (3 picks, 1 lost fumble). Second-string QB Ike Whitaker is clearly more talented, but alcohol-related problems have kept him squarely in the backup role thus far. On a more positive note, junior RB Branden Ore is quietly becoming one of the Hokies' best-ever running backs, and will easily nail down the all-time school rushing record if he stays for his senior season (to date, he's 1,983 yards shy of the top spot). The WR corps is in excellent hands, with Eddie Royal and Josh Morgan back for another go. The offensive line, which was a patchwork unit last year, appears to be in better shape in 2007, with all five projected starters having significant game experience. Ore, Morgan, Royal are all proven gamers and the OL should be back up to Tech standards; but, until Glennon proves that he's capable of truly taking charge, opposing defenses with stack the box and leave the game in his thus-far shaky hands.
Defense: The nation's #1 defense in 2006 returns 8 starters, most notably the killer linebacking duo of Xavier Adibi and Vince Hall (a combined 210 tackles last year). The veteran defensive line (three seniors out of the four starters) should be as ferocious as ever and the secondary is anchored by shutdown corners Brandon Flowers and Macho Harris. Expect at least two shutouts this year, and possibly four when you look at the schedule. You'd think I'd have a lot more to say in a capsule regarding the best defense in the country over the last two years, but you'd be wrong; I know they're good, you know they're good, so it's best I stop yapping and just let these guys prove it.
Special teams: Gone are long-time punter Nic Schmitt and kicker Brandon Pace, replaced by Brent Bowden and Jud Dunlevy, respectively. The return game is still in the talented hands and feet of Eddie Royal, and I trust that the punt-blocking unit will be it's usual horror show on opponents.
Coaching: Last year's coaching staff returns intact, headed up of course by Frank Beamer, returning for his 21st season as head honcho at his alma mater. Oft-criticized OC Brian Stinespring is back, but quite frankly the most important job on the coaching staff this year belongs to QB coach Mike O'Cain (who by my count is coaching at his 4th different ACC program in the last 8 years), since the offense is basically stuck in first gear if the proverbial light doesn't switch on for Glennon. On the defensive side, '06 Broyles Award winner Bud Foster is back to plot the brutal evisceration and annihilation of opposing offensive attacks. He's become the best defensive coordinator in the league, and that's saying something when Mickey Andrews and Jon Tenuta also take up residence in the ACC.
For What It's Worth: Frank Beamer ranks third in wins among active head coaches with 198; that's just 168 and 165 victories behind numbers 1 and 2 (a guy named Bowden and some dude named Paterno)....Beamer has a record of .500 or better against all current ACC schools except Florida State; he's 0-7 against the Seminoles....despite it's rousing success over the last decade, Virginia Tech has never had a Top 10 recruiting class....the Hokies now have the longest streak in the ACC of consecutive games scored (148); they were last shutout by Cincinnati, 16-0 in 1995
Schedule Analysis: Aside from that pesky little trip to Baton Rouge in week two, the first five games provide ample opportunity for Glennon to get things set between the ears, and for the defense to just toy unmercifully with opposing offensive units. The ACC slate is unforgiving, as Florida State replaces Wake Forest and trips to Clemson (against the revenge-minded Tigers), Atlanta (that other Tech routed the Hokies in Blacksburg last year), and Charlottesville (the Hoos have to win one of those Commonwealth Cups, eventually) loom. FSU and Miami visit Blacksburg in back-to-back weeks in early November. At the very least, the already formidable home-field advantage at Lane Stadium should be greatly intensified this fall by the unity of the Virginia Tech family in the aftermath of the tragedy last April.
Projected Wins- East Carolina, Ohio, William & Mary, North Carolina, @Duke, Boston College, Florida State, Miami, @Virginia
Projected Losses- @LSU
Toss-Ups- @Clemson, @Georgia Tech
For More Opinionated, Yet Delightful, Hokie Insight: Tech SuperFans, Blacksburg Beacon
Blast-From-The-Past, Feel-Good YouTube:
The Strip and The Score