TIGER RAG PREVIEW: Virginia Tech Hokies

Today is the 15th and final installment of a 15-part series in which Tiger Rag previews LSU's opponents and other members of the SEC. Today, we spotlight the Virginia Tech Hokies.

Virginia Tech's football program has established itself as one the most successful teams in the country, and will need to find replacements at nine starting positions if they hope to continue to thrive in the tough Atlantic Coast Conference this fall.


Entering his 21st season as the Hokie head coach, Frank Beamer has three consecutive 10-win seasons and 14 straight bowl appearances, two streaks he plans on keeping alive in 2007.


Standing in Virginia Tech's way this year is a schedule that includes match-ups with traditional ACC powers Florida State, Georgia Tech and Clemson, though the Hokies biggest challenge could come early in the season in their week two meeting with LSU in Tiger Stadium.


A year ago, the Hokies were one of just two teams to put up better defensive numbers than the Tigers, claiming the top ranked defense in the country by allowing just 14 total touchdowns and 219.5 yards per game.


Offensively, they managed 295.2 yards and 25.8 points per game, leading to a regular season record of 10-2 and a birth in the Chick-Fil-A Bowl, where they fell to the University of Georgia 31-24.


Junior Sean Glennon will be back in 2007 to lead the Hokies at quarterback after throwing for 2,191 yards and 11 touchdowns with as many interceptions during his sophomore campaign.


On the other side of the passing game, Virginia Tech will bring back senior receivers Eddie Royal and Josh Morgan this fall, two of the team's most productive wide outs a year ago.


During their sophomore season, Royal led the Hokies with 497 receiving yards on 31 catches for three touchdowns, while Morgan hauled in 33 receptions for 448 yards and a team best four scores.


Looking to make a bigger impact at receiver this year will be senior Josh Harper, who got three starts last season and accumulated 324 yards and one touchdown on 21 catches.


A pair of experienced tight ends return to the Virginia Tech offense this season in sophomores Sam Wheeler and Greg Boone, who combined for 18 catches, 267 yards and three touchdowns a year ago.


On the ground, junior Branden Ore provides experience to the tailback position this fall after leading the team in 2006 with 241 carries for 1,137 yards and 16 touchdowns to earn first team all-ACC accolades. He led the conference in all purpose yards with an average of 112.6 yards per game.


In front of Ore at fullback will be senior Carlton Weatherford, who will be stepping up to replace the departed Jesse Allen. As a junior, Weatherford saw time in all 13 ballgames, and received three carries for 11 yards.


Up front, Virginia Tech welcomes back just two starters from a year ago, though neither one of them will be in the same position they played in 2006.


Senior Duane Brown will make the jump to left tackle this season after serving as the right side starting tackle for two years, while junior Ryan Shuman will move from left guard to center this fall.


Virginia Tech's open spots at the guards will be filled by junior Nick Marshman and sophomore Sergio Render, while the opening at right tackle has three players vying for time.


The Hokie defensive line will be blessed with more experience than their offensive counterparts this fall, as the line will see the return of three regulars from a year ago.

Sophomore end Nekos Brown will be the lone newbie in the front four in 2007, but he did see action in all 13 games during his junior season.


Brown will be joining a line composed of senior end Chris Ellis, and senior tackles Carlton Powell and Barry Booker.


Last season, Ellis led the team with four and a half sacks, while Powell managed 38 tackles with two and a half sacks and Booker added 52 tackles with one and a half sacks.


Tech will also need to find just one new starter at linebacker, as the team's top two tacklers from last season will both return to the defense in the fall.


In the middle, senior Vince Hall, one of the best linebackers to come through Virginia Tech, comes back as the leader of the defense after leading the Hokies with 128 tackles last season.


Next to Hall will once again be senior Xavier Adibi, who finished second in total tackles last season with 82 while also recording three sacks and three interceptions.


Looking to claim the job at outside linebacker will be junior Corey Gordon, who recorded seven tackles while seeing time in every game last year.


In the secondary, two of last season's starters will need to be replaced this fall as the Hokies try and continue their success in pass defense; allowing just 128.2 receiving yards per game in 2006.


Junior cornerback Brandon Flowers returns as a breath of fresh air to the defense. As a sophomore, Flowers led the conference with 21 passes defended to earn third team all-American honors.


Opposite him at the other corner will be junior Victor Harris, the 2006 team interception leader with four picks.


Senior D.J. Parker will likely fill the free safety spot, recording 41 tackles and two interceptions last season; while sophomore Dorian Porch looks to get the nod at rover. He tallied nine tackles a year ago.


Virginia Tech suffered the biggest losses on the special teams; losing its starting kicker, punter and deep snapper from a year ago.


Stepping in to take on kicking responsibilities will likely be senior Jud Dunlevy at place kicker and sophomore Brent Bowden at punter. Neither player saw any action last season.


The bright spot on the Hokie special teams will be in the return game, as Eddie Royal will be back as the team's chief returnee on both punts and kickoffs. In 2006, Royal managed a 22.7 yard average on kickoff returns and a 13.2 yard average on punts with one touchdown.






All-Time Series: 0-1

First/Last Meeting: 2002, Virginia Tech 26, LSU 8


Location: Blacksburg, Va.

Stadium: Lane Stadium (66,233)

Conference: Atlantic Coast

Head Coach: Frank Beamer, 156-82-2 at VT, 20 years; 198-105-4 overall, 26 years





2006 Record: 10-3, 6-2 ACC (2nd Coastal)

Final '05 Ranking: 19th AP, 18th Coaches, 15 BCS

Returning Starters: 16; 8 offense, 8 defense

Last Bowl Appearance: 2006 Chick-Fil-A Bowl – Georgia 31, Virginia 24

Last Conference Championship: 2004





Total Offense: 295.2 ypg (99)

Rushing Offense: 113.4 ypg (90)

Passing Offense: 181.8 ypg (82)

Scoring Offense: 25.9 ppg (49)

Total Defense: 219.5 ypg (1)

Rushing Defense: 91.2 ypg (11)

Pass Defense: 128.2 ypg (1)

Scoring Defense: 11.0 ppg (1)





Rushing: Branden Ore – 241-1137, 17 TD, 87.5 ypg

Passing: Sean Glennon – 302-170, 2191, 11 TD, 11 Int., 168.5 ypg

Receiving: Eddie Royal – 31-497, 3 TD, 38.2 ypg

Tackles: Vince Hall – 128

Interceptions: Victor Harris – 4

Sacks: Chris Ellis – 4.5

Tackles for loss: Vince Hall – 11





Date                    Opponent                                 '06 Result

S-1                  EAST CAROLINA                    ---

S-8                  at LSU                                 ---

S-15                OHIO U.                               ---

S-22                WILLIAMS & MARY                 ---

S-29                NORTH CAROLINA                  W, 35-10

O-6                  at Clemson                          W, 24-7

O-13                at Duke                               W, 36-0

O-25                BOSTON COLLEGE                  L, 3-22

N-1                  at Georgia Tech                    L, 27-38

N-10                FLORIDA STATE                     ---

N-17                MIAMI (FL)                           ---

N-24                at Virginia                            W, 17-0                      



Offense at a glance:


Branden Ore leads a Virginia Tech offense that needs to vastly improve from a year ago.


The Hokies offensive unit ranked 99th in the country (295.2 ypg) a year ago as Virginia Tech averaged 113 yards on the ground and 181 through the air, both totals nearing the bottom of both the ACC and NCAA charts.


Ore was a bright spot though offensively as he ran for 1,137 yards and 17 touchdowns, which ranked second and first respectively in the ACC. Ore had four, 100-plus yard rushing performances and put back-to-back 200-plus rushing performances against Southern Miss (207) and Clemson (203).


Sean Glennon returns for his junior season after a respectable sophomore year, in which he completed 170-of-302 passes for 2,191 yards, which ranked fourth in the ACC. He threw 11 touchdowns on the season, but matched that mark with 11 picks.


The Hokies No. 1 receiver is gone in David Clownley. But two others return in Josh Morgan and Eddie Royal. Royal had 31 catches for 497 yards and three touchdowns last season and Morgan totaled 43 catches for 448 yards and four more scores. Also, toss in tight end Sam Wheeler to the mix.


Three of five starters across the offensive front return to the 2007 squad, including senior Duane Brown.



Defense at a glance:


While the offense was far from brilliant for Frank Beamer's squad, the Hokies got it done on the defensive side of the ball.


Virginia Tech boasted the nation's No. 1 defensive unit allowing just 219.5 yards per game a year ago. The Hokies stoppers were rat6ed No. 1 in the nation in total yards, passing defense (128.2 ypg) and scoring defense (11.0 ppg).


And here is the frightening thing… Virginia Tech returns eight starters from that side of the ball.


The Hokies hang their hat on defense and it all starts with linebackers Xavier Adibi and Vince Hall. The combination of Hall and Adibi combined for 210 tackles a year ago with Hall leading the conference with 128 total stops.


Three starters across the defensive front return including tackles Carlton Powell and Barry Booker as well as standout defensive end Chris Ellis.


Three starters are back in the secondary, including a pair of outstanding corners Victor Harris and Brandon Flowers. Flowers led the ACC a year ago in passes defended.


- Matt Deville

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