BY DANIEL MOGOLLON
COLLEGE FOOTBALL INSIDERS
2006 RECORD: 10-3; ACC: 6-2
Lost Chick-fil-A Bowl vs. Georgia 31-24
LOCATION: Blacksburg, Virginia
STADIUM: Lane (66,233)
HEAD COACH: Frank Beamer
OVERALL: 198-105-4 (26 seasons)
AT VIRGINIA TECH: 156-82-2 (20 seasons)
There is little doubt the Hokies will be the sentimental favorite this season and if they ever get any momentum going you will hear the moniker “America’s Team” bandied about. For the second time in three years Tech finished strong in 2006, taking the final six games of the regular season before a disappointing loss to the Georgia Bulldogs in the bowl game as turnovers killed their chances. They return eight starters on both sides of the ball and with Frank Beamer working his magic on special teams…Tech could be among the top contenders this season.
WHEN THE HOKIES HAVE THE BALL
OFFENSIVE COORDINAROR: Bryan Stinespring (6th Season)
OFFENSIVE STARTERS RETURNING: 8
KEY LOSSES: David Clowney, Brandon Frye, Jesse Allen
Tech likes to play a smash mouth brand of football if possible and they will pound away with Branden Ore, who despite suffering through nicks and bruises as a sophomore was productive enough to earn First Team All-ACC honors. He can have an even bigger season if the Hokies improve their offensive line play, which was mediocre last season. They did not excel at either run or pass blocking in 2006, however the staff is optimistic that they will turn it around this season. Another area that needs improvement is quarterback, where junior Sean Glennon returns. He is neither spectacular, nor consistent, as he needs to work on his accuracy, as well as his decision-making. You might not know it, but receiver might actually be their deepest position with Eddie Royal, Josh Hyman and Justin Harper a troika of blazers, as well as Josh Morgan, a reliable option. If the O-Line and Glennon can make it happen, the weapons are there to make some big plays, providing Ore some relief by keeping the defense honest.
PRO PROSPECTS: 1) Eddie Royal (SR), 2) Duane Brown (SR), 3) Justin Harper (SR), 4) Branden Ore (JR), 5) Josh Morgan (SR), 6) Sergio Render (SO), 7) Ed Wang (SO), 8) Josh Hyman (SR)
WHEN THE OTHER TEAM HAS THE BALL
DEFENSIVE COORDINAROR: Bud Foster (13th Season)
DEFENSIVE STARTERS RETURNING: 8
KEY LOSSES: Aaron Rouse, Noland Burchette, Brenden Hill
Coordinator Bud Foster is becoming one of the deans of defense in college football, now in his 13th year running the D in Blacksburg. They try to bring pressure from every direction with the speedy Chris Ellis their top returning sacker coming off the edge, a DE/OLB type. Redshirt freshman Jason Worilds (formerly known as Jason Adjepong) is set to take over the other end position and could provide a boost. Carlton Powell stands tall at the nose, allowing backers Xavier Adibi and Vince Hall to do what they do best. Hall is as solid as they come, while you will get some more sizzle from the speedy Adibi. Not many teams can match what they bring at the corner position with juniors Brandon Flowers and Macho Harris a pair of shutdown corners and senior Roland Minor a nice option coming off the bench. Their experience at corner will allow either Dorian Porch or Kam Chancellor, both sophomores, to ease into the Rover position, vacated by Aaron Rouse. If the Hokies win the ACC title, it will be behind the play of their defense.
PRO PROSPECTS: 1) Macho Harris (JR), 2) Chris Ellis (SR), 3) Xavier Adibi (SR), 4) Brandon Flowers (JR), 5) Carlton Powell (SR), 6) Vince Hall (SR), 7) DJ Parker (SR), 8) Barry Booker (SR), 9) Jason Worilds (FR), 10) Roland Minor (SR)
If we are talking a potential run at a National Championship then their early showdown with LSU could catapult them into the race. An upset in Baton Rouge would speak volumes in the college football world. In ACC play, they must visit Clemson who will have revenge on the mind, play at Georgia Tech, a squad who has their own aspirations of making the ACC Championship game, as well as a trip to rival Virginia, who would be more than happy to play the spoiler role. Those are three tough road tests. The home slate is not much easier, with Boston College and traditional powerhouses Florida St. and Miami making their way to Blacksburg. It is very possible Tech could be the favorite in all of their conference games, however in an improved ACC it is doubtful they will go without a blemish.
The key to the Hokies having a special season will be the play of their offensive line. Last season, as a team they averaged only 113 yards on the ground, the worst during Beamer’s tenure, while averaging just 3.2 yards per carry. Ore averaged 4.7 yards per carry in 2006 and could top five if the line does a better job of opening holes. Passing blocking was also an issue, as opposing defenses dropped Glennon 29 times last year. He is not the most mobile quarterback around, so protection is vital. The more time he has…the better chance they have of taking advantage of their speed on the outside. It all begins at the line of scrimmage, if you lose that battle, there is little the skill players can do.
CFI FINAL ANALYSIS
The average fan will likely back the Hokies for much of the season, they could be the sports darlings of 2007, however do not expect any of the opponents to roll over for them. Like most of the teams in the 6-15 range, the Hokies have the potential to be a National Title contender if everything breaks right. They are the team to beat in the Coastal Division and are the favorites to win the conference crown, however with a suspect quarterback and an offensive line that needs to prove itself, I would not expect anything more.
Check back tomorrow to see who is #11 in CFI’s Top 25 Countdown