CFN: Virginia Tech Preview

Virginia Tech kicked star RB Branden Ore off the team, lost most of the defensive stars, and must replace almost all the top receivers. So this should be a down year, right? Not in the average ACC where Sean Glennon and the Hokies should be fine.

- 2008 CFN Virginia Tech Preview |
2008 Virginia Tech Offense
- 2008 Virginia Tech Defense | 2008 Virginia Tech Depth Chart
- 2007 CFN Virginia Tech Preview | 2006 CFN Virginia Tech Preview

Head coach: Frank Beamer
22nd year: 209-108-2
28th year: 167-85-4

Returning Lettermen:
Off. 19, Def. 21, ST 2
Lettermen Lost: 19
Ten Best VT Players
1. CB Victor "Macho" Harris, Sr.
2. DE Orion Martin, Sr.
3. LB Cam Martin, Jr.
4. FS Kam Chancellor, Jr.
5. QB Sean Glennon, Sr.
6. RG Sergio Render, Jr.
7. LT Ed Wang, Jr.
8. QB Tyrod Taylor, Soph.
9. DE Jason Worilds, Soph.
10. TE Sam Wheeler, Jr.

2008 Schedule
CFN Prediction: COMING
2008 Schedule: 0-0

Aug. 30 East Carolina (Charlotte)
Sept. 6 Furman
Sept. 13 Georgia Tech
Sept. 20 at North Carolina
Sept. 27 at Nebraska
Oct. 4 Western Kentucky
Oct. 11  OPEN DATE
Oct. 18 at Boston College
Oct. 25 at Florida State
Nov. 6 Maryland
Nov. 13 at Miami
Nov. 22 Duke
Nov. 29 Virginia

2007 Schedule
CFN Prediction: 10-2
2007 Schedule: 1

Sept. 1 East Carolina W 17-7
Sept. 8 at LSU L 48-7
Sept. 15
Ohio W 28-7
Sept. 22 William & Mary W 44-3
Sept. 29 North Carolina W 17-10
Oct. 6 at Clemson W 41-23
Oct. 13 at Duke W 43-14
Oct. 25 Boston College L 14-10
Nov. 1 at Georgia Tech W 27-3
Nov. 10
Florida State W 40-21
Nov. 17 Miami W 44-14
Nov. 24 at Virginia W 33-21
ACC Championship
Dec. 1 Boston College W 30-16
Orange Bowl
Jan. 3 Kansas L 24-21

The defending ACC champions will begin the upcoming season as the favorites to win at least the Coastal Division again, but that doesn’t mean there aren’t huge holes that need to be filled between now and the opener, and that doesn’t mean they should assume they’ll be in the ACC title game again.

Even so, they’ll be fine. 

The Hokies took a beating through graduation and dismissals, losing their top receivers, three-quarters of the starting defensive line, All-ACC linebackers Xavier Adibi and Vince Hall, leading rusher Brandon Ore, and steady PK Jud Dunlevy. As always, there’s talent waiting in the wings in Blacksburg, but it needed to develop in a hurry to for Tech to go from being good to championship-level.

Fortunately, this is a bit of a down/stepping-stone season for the conference. For example, in the Coastal Division, Miami is at least a year away from being ready to mount a challenge for the ACC title, Georgia Tech is rebuilding under new head man Paul Johnson, North Carolina is better, but still isn’t Virginia Tech yet, Virginia appears ready to take a step back, and Duke, while improved, is still Duke. In other words, the Hokies likely won’t have to be at their highest level to get back to the title game. And they won’t be, but that doesn’t necessarily matter.

Regardless of the hurdles it faces, Virginia Tech has gotten this ACC thing down to a science since coming on board, winning the league or playing in the title game in three of the last four years. There’s little doubt that the season ahead will bring major challenges to both sides of the ball, but again, in a division that has no scary threat, the Hokies should have a relatively clear path to Tampa in December against likely Clemson or Boston College.

Savvy recruiting plus outstanding coaching is a time-tested formula that doesn’t fail Virginia Tech very often, and it won’t this year, either.                       

What to watch for on offense
: Where are the playmakers? Now that leading rusher Branden Ore has been exiled and last year’s top four wide receivers have graduated, the Hokies are about to experience a power outage on offense after not exactly burning things up last year finishing 100th in the nation. While so much attention is being given to the quarterback battle between Sean Glennon and Tyrod Taylor, it won’t matter who wins if the supporting cast is impotent. In the backfield, redshirt freshman Darren Evans has stood out and a deep ensemble of tight ends will be instrumental to the success of the passing attack.   

What to watch for on defense
: The run defense will be more vulnerable than it's been in years. No, opponents won’t be able to gash and dash, but they’ll find a little more running room than normal. Tech was gutted by graduation at defensive tackle and the losses of linebackers Xavier Adibi and Vince Hall won’t be easily overcome. The onus falls on new tackles Cordarrow Thompson and John Graves, and middle linebacker Brett Warren to pick up the slack and exceed expectations.                

This team will be far better if
… the offensive line does its job. It was a tale of two halves for the group last season, getting abused in the early going before coming together down the stretch.  The Hokies are dangerously light at the skill positions, meaning it’s up to veterans RG Sergio Render and LT Ed Wang, to create an environment for the new starters in the backfield and at wide receivers to succeed. The line dominated at times in the Orange Bowl loss to Kansas, but when the coaches went away from the power running game, the offense struggled.    

The Schedule:
The road trips are going to be challenging. There aren't many breaks in interdivision play having to travel to face Boston College and Florida State, while a late Coastal Division showdown at Miami could end up making or breaking ACC title hopes. The non-conference schedule is interesting with a trip to Nebraska for the first machup with the Huskers since the 1996 Orange Bowl (a 41-21 Hokie loss) to off-set layups against Furman and Western Kentucky. The opener against East Carolina won't be a walk in the park.

Best Offensive Player: Senior QB Sean Glennon. No disrespect to the veteran, but this is a selection by default on an offense that’ll be hunting for new playmakers and better blocking up front. Glennon actually played well down the stretch last year, handling some early season adversity and doing his part to get the Hokies an ACC title. Considered a low-risk game manager throughout his career, he’s a heady competitor with enough zip on his passes to get some looks from NFL scouts.

Best Defensive Player: Senior CB Victor Harris. How much confidence do the Hokies have in Macho’s athleticism? Enough to move him to the more demanding boundary corner position, use him as a return man, and work him at wide receiver for part of the spring. While there are better lockdown corners in the country, few possess his combination of size, speed, and ball skills. He can punish opposing receivers and pick their pockets like a thief.   

Key player to a successful season: Junior PK Dustin Keys. While the defense will be typically stingy, the offense is going to struggle to put points on the board. Interpretation? The Hokies will be involved in plenty of close, low-scoring games this fall. The difference between winning and losing on many weekends could come down to the sporadic leg of Keys, who was the leader to replace Jud Dunlevy coming out of spring.

The season will be a success if ... Tech wins another ACC championship. Is that setting the bar too high in a season rife with turnover? Nah. The Hokies are still the class of the Coastal Division and the only program with a clear edge in talent, Clemson, isn’t on the schedule and tends to be schizophrenic when it’s expected to win. Even though Tech isn’t as potent as last year, the goal of a league title remains in the crosshairs. 

Key game: Nov. 13 at Miami. By this late stage of the season, the young ‘Canes might be all grown up and dreaming of knocking off the defending ACC champs on national TV. In a watered-down Coastal Division, it’s conceivable the winner of this game will hold serve in the race to the league title game.    

2007 Fun Stats: 
- First half scoring: Virginia Tech 234 – Opponents 122
- Sacks: Opponents 54 for 297 yards – Virginia Tech 47 for 308 yards
- Red zone scoring: Virginia Tech 42 of 46 (91%) – Opponents 28 of 39 (72%) Top Stories