Virginia Tech Season Preview
By Chris Bunn
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Bud Foster's Virginia Tech defenses have finished the season ranked in the top 10 nationally in scoring defense eight consecutive seasons.
Benjamin Franklin once said that the only sure things in life are death, taxes, and Virginia Tech winning ten games. Always the wiseman, Franklin’s prophetic insights hold true yet again this season as Beamerball looks to be at its best yet again.
With nine returning starters on defense, led by Antone Exum and J.R. Collins, this year’s Hokie defense could be the stingiest in history.
Exum, who started all 14 games in the defensive backfield last season, certainly believes they can be with application.
"We have the talent on our side of the ball to be the best defense that's ever been through here, but that's just if we put our mind to it and practice like we need to every day and stay disciplined and stay humbled," said Exum.
Bud Foster’s men have finished in the top 10 in scoring defense in each of the last EIGHT years. Think about that. The last time a VT squad finished outside the top 10, Saddam Hussein had just been captured.
Now, as good as the defense may be, the offense is its foil. With only three returning starters, Logan Thomas’s crew will be full of question marks in the beginning stages of the season. Will Michael Holmes be able to give them even half of what David Wilson did in the backfield? Can Marcus Davis be the go-to receiver? How does the line recover from losing 151 career starts?
The obvious cliche is that the offense will need to score enough for the defense, but in Virginia Tech's case it actually might be the other way around; the defense may need to score for the offense.
With all that said, Thomas projects to be the top QB in the conference in terms of talent. His size, skill, and potential should allow plenty of room for growth from this Hokie offense, so by the end of the season we’re staring at yet another VT squad in the ACC title game.
The crazy thing is, we might know the Coastal division winner by September 4th. The winner of the matchup between Georgia Tech and Virginia Tech has represented the Coastal Division in the ACC title game every year of its existence. With North Carolina ineligible for the game, that result seems likely again this season.
A win over the Yellow Jackets sets up VT to win the division quite nicely. However, drawing the top two teams from the Atlantic (@ Clemson, vs Florida State) while also having to travel to UNC means that 5-3, even with the win over Georgia Tech, is entirely plausible.
After all, VT scored three touchdowns last season against Clemson from special teams and defense (interception return, punt return, and kickoff return) and is only 2-13 historically against the Seminoles.
What this all sets up is can’t lose games on the road at Pittsburgh in Week 3, a neutral field game against another Big East contender in Cincinnati, a home game against Duke who has played the Hokies surprisingly tough and looks to be better, on the road in Miami for a Thursday night showcase, and finally the rivalry game against darkhorse ACC contender UVA.
It is totally plausible to think that the Hokies will emerge from those five contests unscathed. Individually, they are all inferior teams to the Hokies. As long as the Tech defense stays healthy, they remain the favorite to win the division.
10-2, 6-2 (losses to Clemson and Florida State)
Coastal Division Winner
Logan Thomas as Offensive Player of the Year