As is always the case with the Hokies, it was the defense that carried the team last season. The Hokies had the second best defense in the league, ranked seventh nationally. They held opponents to just under seventeen points per game and ranked tenth in the country in turnover margin. The run defense held opponents to just 3.25 yards per carry.
That stout defense carried an offense that was awful at times. The Hokies were the second worse in the league and 103rd nationally in total offense. The passing offense was brutal, finishing 111th in the country. The only bright spot was the play of Tyrod Taylor. When healthy, he was a dynamic combination of running and scrambling that could change a game in one play.
Why They Could Be Better: Most of the Hokies defense is back from last season. They have some decisions to make at one linebacker spot and at safety. This is more about who gets the bulk of the snaps as the options all have experience from last season. It is quite possible that this is the best defense in the conference, maybe the country.
Tyrod Taylor will finally get to run the offense without having to share time with the "passing option" at quarterback. That means the Hokie offense will be all in with the helter-skelter option style that makes Taylor a weapon. Taylor is never going to win games with his arm, but his running ability is second to none in the ACC.
Taylor will also have the benefit of a veteran line this year. The Hokies have everyone back from last year and that will pay dividends in the running game. For the offense to have success, they have to run the ball between the tackles. That's what frees up their option game. A veteran O-line will allow them to have some balance.
Why They Could Be Worse: The biggest concern this year is at tailback. Number one back Darren Evans is gone with an injury. That means the job falls to sophomore Josh Oglesby or freshman Ryan Williams. Neither possess the game breaking ability of Evans. If the Hokies want to get a full season out of Taylor, they will need both of their young tailbacks to play above their experience.
Taylor is not much of a passer and he is not getting much help this year at receiver. This is a young and inexperienced group. The only place you don't see an underclassmen in the two deep is at tight end. Greg Boone is a fifth year senior, who is a returning starter. Otherwise, the receiving corp is new and untested.
The biggest concern is Taylor's health. He missed time last year with injuries and he will be taking a lot of hits this season. He is not the biggest guy in the world and has had ankle problems. One hit and the Hokies will have to rely on Ju-Ju Clayton, which would be very bad juju.
What To Expect: Going into Blacksburg is never easy. The time has not been set for this game, but don't be surprised if it is set for the evening. That way the ESPN crew can talk about their love of Metallica for an hour leading up to the game.
There's no way Spaziani will want to try and throw against the Hokie defense. That means they will play it ultra-conservative and run the ball, hoping they can shorten the game and get a few mistakes in their favor. Asking a young QB to throw against that defense in front of that crowd is not a good idea.
On defense, guys like Taylor are always trouble for BC. Like last year, they will try to keep contain and give up the short stuff in the passing game. The hope is Taylor will lose patience and throw a pick or take a beating trying to run from the pocket. Odds are he has a career day.
Prediction: Virginia Tech is the real deal this year and there is no way they overlook the Eagles, even if it is a down year for BC. They would like nothing more than a little payback for prior home losses. VT 38 BC 7