Preseason hype in '07 and '09 was quickly extinguished following early season drubbings against LSU (48-7) and Alabama (34-24), respectively. That national buildup returns in '10 as Athlon and Lindy's both tabbed the Hokies as preseason top-10 teams in their publications, but another early-season matchup with a top-5 program – this time it's Boise State on Labor Day – will likely decide if Virginia Tech is deserving of the accolades.
Offensive coordinator Bryan Stinespring returns eight starters from a unit that ranked 50th nationally in total offense (392.1 ypg) and 24th in scoring offense (31.9 ppg). Running back Ryan Williams (1,655 yards, 21 TD) set an ACC record with 22 total touchdowns as a freshman and helped the Hokies average 208.2 rushing yards per game (14th nationally). Stinespring returns his top-five rushers from '09, while also welcoming second-team All-ACC sophomore Darren Evans (1,265 yards in ‘08) back from an ACL injury that sidelined him last fall.
The offensive line loses a pair of second-team All-ACC performers in Sergio Render and Ed Wang, but returns three starters and 54 career starts. Senior quarterback Tyrod Taylor (136-of-243 passing, 2,311 yards, 13 TD, 5 INT, 370 rushing yards, 5 TD) is back for his fourth year as a starter, along with his top three wide receiver targets in junior Jarrett Boykin (40 catches, 835 yards, 5 TD), junior Danny Coale (30 catches, 614 yards, 2 TD) and junior Dyrell Roberts (22 catches, 390 yards, 3 TD).
Bud Foster is the only four-time finalist for the Broyles Award, winning the honor as the top assistant in college football in '06. Foster enters his 15th season as the Hokies' defensive coordinator with only four returning starters, led by senior defensive tackle John Graves (15 tkl, 2 TFL) and junior linebacker Barquell Rivers (96 tkl, 6.5 TFL). Cornerback Rashad Carmichael (55 tkl, 6 INT) and rover Davon Morgan (47 tkl) return to anchor the secondary. This unit, as usual under Foster's direction, ranked 12th in total defense (295.5 ypg) and ninth in scoring defense (15.6 ppg) in '09. While a dropoff is likely, there is still enough talent in Blacksburg for the Hokies to field a strong defensive unit.
Quotable: "There's several -- I wouldn't say a lot -- but there's several that start out and have the capabilities to do that. I've been in it long enough to know things have to fall in place, pieces have to fit and injuries have to go the right way. There's a fine line there [between] being able to do it and not able to do it. But if you're in the running, you're in the ballpark. And I won't back down from it." — Beamer on his team potentially contending for a national championship
Matchup to Watch: North Carolina has outgained Virginia Tech the past four meetings, but the Tar Heels' ground game stepped up in '09 at Lane Stadium and churned out 181 yards on 42 carries, good for a 4.3 yards-per-carry average and a dominating 36:14-23:46 time of possession difference. Shaun Draughn totaled 77 yards on 12 carries, while battering ram Ryan Houston rushed 18 times for 66 yards without any negative-yardage plays. The Hokies allowed 128.4 rushing yards per outing (40th nationally) last fall, but must replace three starters along the defensive line. UNC counters with three returning starters up front, as well as Draughn and Houston in the backfield. If the Tar Heels can manage a repeat performance on the ground, a second-straight victory over the Hokies is a distinct possibility.
Remember Me? North Carolina fans fondly remember Ike Oglesby, a running back for the Tar Heels in the early 1970s who currently ranks 13th on UNC's all-time rushing list with 1,773 yards. So when the elder Oglesby's son, Josh, started to earn attention from college scouts leading up to his senior season at Garner High School in '06-07, it seemed reasonable that the legacy would end up in Chapel Hill. But after John Bunting's staff dragged its feet in offering Oglesby, the 5-foot-11, 216-pound running back pounced on an offer from Virginia Tech in July. Butch Davis's arrival at North Carolina caught Oglesby's attention, but it was too late in the process for a change of plans. The red-shirt junior (335 rushing yards, 2 TD) made the shift from tailback to fullback in the spring, although running backs coach Billy Hite refers to the position as the Hokies' new B-back, similar to that of UNC's H-back role.
2010 Schedule Sept. 6 Boise State (Mon.) Sept. 11 James Madison Sept. 18 East Carolina Sept. 25 @ Boston College Oct. 2 @ N.C. State Oct. 9 Central Michigan Oct. 16 Wake Forest Oct. 23 Duke Oct. 30 OPEN DATE Nov. 4 Georgia Tech (Thurs.) Nov. 13 @ North Carolina Nov. 20 @ Miami Nov. 27 Virginia