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ACC Season Preview: Virginia Tech

By Carlos Pineda
SouthernPigskin.com
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Virginia Tech is looking to bounce back from an extremely rare disappointing campaign.

Coach: Frank Beamer (216-104-2, entering 26th season; 258-127-4 overall)

2012 season: 7-6 (4-4, fourth in ACC Coastal Division)

Looking back: The Hokies won their first two games of the 2012 season, but then lost six of the next eight and were on the verge of their first losing season in 20 years. But fighting for bowl eligibility, Virginia Tech won its last two games of the regular season to become bowl eligible. While the defense was spectacular, the offense floundered for much of the year and led to the hiring of three new offensive coaches.

Offensive starters returning: 6

Defensive starters returning: 9

RELATED: Virginia Tech will count on the defense to be exceptional this fall

Top returnees: James Gayle, DE; Logan Thomas, QB; Jack Tyler, LB

Key losses: Nick Becton, LT; Bruce Taylor, LB; Marcus Davis, WR

Strengths: Defensively, Virginia Tech is stacked with experience, returning eight of its top nine players. Defensive end James Gayle had five sacks and 27 quarterback hurries last season. Linebacker Jack Tyler finished tied for third in the league with 119 tackles.

Despite having a less-than-stellar junior season, quarterback Logan Thomas returns to lead the Hokies offense. Thomas passed for 2,976 yards and 18 touchdowns, but threw 16 interceptions. 

Weaknesses: The Hokies will be without three of their most productive receivers from last season, including Marcus Davis, who had 51 catches for 953 yards and five touchdowns. With four running backs getting playing time a year ago, not one was able to break away from the pack, evidenced by the fact that Thomas led the team with 524 yards.

RELATED: Hokies look to recapture blue collar approach

Outlook/prediction: The mold of Virginia Tech has always been to play football with a blue collar mentality and toughness. Although the team hit rare form last season, Frank Beamer's squad will be in contention for the Coastal Division crown. After a tough game against Alabama to start the season, the Hokies' first three games in September provide them the opportunity to work out the kinks.

2013 Schedule

Aug. 31 vs. Alabama (Georgia Dome) 5:30 p.m. ESPN

Sept. 7 vs. West Carolina 1:30 p.m.

Sept. 14 at East Carolina 12:00 p.m. Fox Sports 1

Sept. 21 vs. Marshall

Sept. 26 at Georgia Tech 7:30 p.m. ESPN

Oct. 5 vs. North Carolina

Oct. 12 vs. Pittsburgh

Oct. 26 vs. Duke

Nov. 2 at Boston College

Nov. 9 at Miami

Nov. 16 vs. Maryland

Nov. 30 at Virginia

*bold denotes home games

Previous ACC Season Previews

Boston College

Clemson

Duke

Florida State

Georgia Tech 

Maryland

Miami

North Carolina

NC State

Pittsburgh

Syracuse

Virginia

Carlos Pineda - Carlos Pineda is a featured writer for Southern Pigskin. He covered the UCF Knights football team for Florida Today in 2010. Carlos' work has been published in the South Florida Sun Sentinel, Miami Herald, Orlando Sentinel and Orlando Business Journal. He attended the University of Central Florida. Follow Carlos on Twitter @CarlosFPineda.