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Hokies Look to Recapture Blue Collar Approach

By Anthony Richards
SouthernPigskin.com
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Virginia Tech will have to rely heavily on its blue collar attitude if it wants to climb its way from average to the ACC’s elite once again.

The 2013 season cannot come fast enough for Logan Thomas and the Virginia Tech Hokies, who finished last season 7-6 overall and 4-4 in the ACC.

The season was marked by a rough middle stretch in which the Hokies lost six of eight games before ending the season with a three-game winning streak.

Virginia Tech’s losses were by an average of 13 points per game, but many of their wins were close, including three that required overtime.  This shows how the Hokies have the ability to find what it takes to win games late, but the lack of offensive production made it hard to stay with opponents. 

Much of the scrutiny tends to fall on the quarterback after a season that does not have successful results.  However, starting quarterback Logan Thomas was as much a reason for the Hokies' success as he was for the failure.

Thomas helped orchestrate six game-tying or game-winning drives in the final two minutes of regulation or overtime to salvage a late-season turnaround and winning record.

Despite the late-game heroics, Thomas made his share of poor decisions.  He completed only 51 percent of his passes while throwing for 18 touchdowns and 16 interceptions.

The Hokies' offense looks to improve upon its 25 points per game output from a year ago, and in order to do so, Thomas must recapture his 2011 precision passing.  During that season, he became the first Hokies quarterback since Michael Vick in 1999 to throw for more touchdowns than incompletions during a game against Miami.  Thomas would later go on to lead Virginia Tech to an 11-win season and a trip to the Sugar Bowl.

For the second straight season, Thomas must deal with the loss of his top three receivers.  The difference this season from last is the return of senior DJ Coles who redshirted last fall.  Coles is the lone senior in the receiving corps, and at 6-4 and 238 pounds, he provides Thomas with a reliable target in the passing game.

Many other Virginia Tech receivers stand over six feet and have the physical style capable of hauling in the tough passes in traffic, such as talented freshman Joel Caleb.  Sophomore Demitri Knowles is the speedster of the group and provides new offensive coordinator Scot Loeffler with a vertical threat down the field.  Caleb and Knowles are each projected as starters and will look to have an immediate impact on the offensive game plan.  

Thomas was the Hokies leading rusher in 2012, a statistic that the coaching staff hopes not to replicate.  The addition of freshman Trey Edmunds with sophomore JC Coleman, who ran for 492 yards and two touchdowns in six starts, gives the Virginia Tech backfield a combination of speed and power to attack opposing defenses.  

Edmunds provides the physical running between the tackles at 6-1 and 215 pounds, while Coleman provides a change of pace and quickness around the edge at 5-8 and 177 pounds.

Until last season, it had been 20 years since a Frank Beamer-led Virginia Tech team lost six games.  The seven wins also broke a streak of eight consecutive 10-win seasons, a school record and the longest of Beamer’s tenure.  Since the construction of the ACC Championship Game in 2005, no team has made the game its home more than Virginia Tech’s five appearances and three victories.

The Hokies have a veteran signal caller helping to direct potential playmakers on offense, and a defense that once again epitomizes the Virginia Tech “lunch pail” tradition of hard work and dedication.

Virginia Tech will have to rely heavily on its blue collar attitude if it wants to climb its way from average to the ACC’s elite once again.

Anthony Richards - Anthony was born and raised in Jacksonville, Fla. and currently attends the University of North Florida. He is a sports journalist, with a particular passion for college football in the south and the atmosphere that surrounds it. He enjoys the classic southern combination of Bar-B-Q and a large glass of sweet tea. You can reach Anthony at antnyrich@comcast.net.