2007 RECORD: 11-3; ACC: 7-1
Lost Orange Bowl vs. Kansas 24-21
LOCATION: Blacksburg, Virginia
STADIUM: Lane Stadium (66,233)
HEAD COACH: Frank Beamer
OVERALL: 209-108-4 (27 seasons)
AT TECH: 167-85-2 (21 seasons)
The Hokies are coming off a second ACC Title in four years since joining the conference—winning 42 games during that span. They have averaged 10 wins over the last nine years…so why does the 15th ranked team in the Coaches Poll barely crack our rankings? Tech had 11 players invited to the NFL Scouting Combine in March (only USC had more with 12) and eight of those players were drafted. That is a lot of talent to lose.
WHEN THE HOKIES HAVE THE BALL
OFFENSIVE COORDINATOR: Bryan Stinespring (7th Season/16th at Tech)
OFFENSIVE STARTERS RETURNING: 6
KEY LOSSES: Duane Brown, Eddie Royal, Josh Morgan, Justin Harper, Branden Ore (TRAN), Josh Hyman, Brandon Dillard (INJ)
Do they have two quarterbacks or no quarterback? That is the question. If Sean Glennon looked mediocre last year, how can he be expected to improve now that his top four pass catchers have used up their eligibility? He had three receivers good enough to get drafted, yet none of the trio reached even 50 receptions or 700 receiving yards. Super soph Tyrod Taylor is the heir apparent, but is he ready for fulltime duty? In addition to the losses at receiver, the Hokies must replace Branden Ore who was “asked to the leave the team” after leading them in rushing the past two seasons. On the line, they return four starters including tackle Ed Wang and guard Sergio Render. They should be better than the group that allowed 53 sacks last season, although left tackle Duane Brown, who was a first round selection by the Houston Texans, must be replaced.
TOP PROSPECTS: 1) OT Ed Wang (JR), 2) OT Sergio Render (JR)
WHEN THE OTHER TEAM HAS THE BALL
DEFENSIVE COORDINATOR: Bud Foster (14th Season/22nd at Tech)
DEFENSIVE STARTERS RETURNING: 4
KEY LOSSES: Brandon Flowers, Xavier Adibi, Vince Hall. Chris Ellis, Carlton Powell, DJ Parker, Barry Booker
Despite the loss of second round pick Brandon Flowers, the Tech secondary should be just fine. In Victor “Macho” Harris and Kam Chancellor they have arguably the top corner and safety in the ACC. Harris, who put his name into the NFL Draft before deciding to return, is a playmaker who makes opposing quarterbacks look elsewhere when seeking an open receiver. Chancellor is a 6-3, 225-pound speedster and big things are expected from him as he moves from Rover to free safety. There could be problems with the front seven where only the Martin boys return—Orion at defensive end and Cam at outside linebacker. Do they have enough talent to make up for all the losses?
TOP PROSPECTS: 1) CB Macho Harris (SR), 2) FS Kam Chancellor (JR)
The Hokies start out with three straight at home and close with three of their last four in Blacksburg, but in between must play four of five away from home. Tech travels to Miami, Tallahassee and Chapel Hill, and while the ‘Noles and ‘Canes are marquee names, put a circle around their trip to Carolina—the Heels are the sleeper in the Coastal Division. Out of conference they make a trip to Lincoln, which is never easy. Overall, the schedule should help keep the Hokies ranked—none of their opponents are in the preseason Coaches Poll and they will avoid ACC favorite Clemson…unless they meet in the conference championship game.
The Offensive Line: Tech must reestablish their running game and supply better protection for their quarterback—those 53 sacks were the third most in the nation. Wang makes the move to left tackle and the former tight end has the athleticism to protect the blind side, and Render gives them some powerful run blocking at right guard. Red-shirt freshman RT Blake DeChristopher could be a good one. The line needs to stay healthy and play better as a unit.
CFI FINAL ANALYSIS
Based on what they have coming back, the Hokies are a borderline ranked team. They have earned some benefit of the doubt, however, with their success under Coach Beamer and the stellar defense Bud Foster puts on the field, year-after-year. Tech will compete for the ACC Title and is the team to beat in the Coastal Division. This has as much to do with the sorry state of the ACC as anything else. The schedule is set up nicely and no one would be surprised if by the end of the season, Tech is among the top teams in the nation.
Wednesday, August 6, 2008
2007 RECORD: 11-3; ACC: 7-1