Head coach: Frank Beamer (224-108-2 ), head coach at Virginia Tech since 1987.
Beamer has been the head coach at Virginia Tech since UCLA head coach Jim Mora was a 26 year old quality control assistant for the San Diego Chargers. Beamer, over the last 18 years, has won seven conference titles between the old Big East and the ACC. Virginia Tech generally plays a fairly difficult non-conference schedule, which has left Beamer with just one shot at the national championship, in 1999, when Virginia Tech lost to Florida State, 49-26. The last three years have been the worst three year stretch for Beamer since 2001 to 2003, but that really isn't saying much—even over the last three years, Virginia Tech has won 26 games.
What the heck is a Hokie?: It's a meaningless noise created for a contest by an old school cheerleader in the 1800's. It'd be as if that ringing noise created by Geoff Strand's cowbell became the school mascot. For some unknown reason, in the intervening years, Virginia Tech has started to use a turkey as the mascot, referring to the mascot as a Hokie Turkey. We don't get it, but, when you really think about it, no one really knows what a Bruin is either.
Best offensive player: Quarterback Logan Thomas. It's really a default answer, because the Hokie offense was not good this season. The senior quarterback has been hit and miss this season ,but when he's on, he has been explosive. He has good legs, but hasn't run as much or as effectively this season as he has in years past. Still, he does represent another quarterback with running ability that UCLA will have to contain.
Best defensive player: Defensive tackle Derrick Hopkins. Hopkins has been a huge (6'0, 312) part of Virginia Tech's very strong run defense. Hopkins might have an argument for being the overall MVP of the team, since the defense is really why the team won any games at all. Hopkins sets the tone, and should prove to be a difficult matchup for UCLA's interior linemen, with a little Will Sutton in him.
Breakdown of season/team: Virginia Tech was led by its defense this year, which allowed an average of just 4.3 yards per play, which is a very good number (generally speaking, anything under 5 is pretty good). The offense, though, has been weak all year. The team has scored just 23.4 points per game, which isn't usually a valuable metric unless it is really high or really low. That's REALLY low, especially in modern football. The Hokies finished 8-4 this season, though, which is a credit to their defense and how awful the ACC is. It's an easy thing to say that if Virginia Tech played in the SEC or the Pac-12, the Hokies might not be bowl eligible this year.
Best win: 42-24 over an overrated Miami team on the road.
Worst loss: Either the 27-24 loss to Maryland at home or the 34-27 loss to Boston College on the road.
Phrase you'll seen thrown around that is really meaningless considering every coach (besides maybe Rick Neuheisel) would like to score touchdowns in all phases of the game: Beamer Ball. Because Virginia Tech scores a fair amount of touchdowns on special teams and defense thanks to an emphasis on speed and playmaking ability at punt returner (duh), kick returner (duh), and in the defensive backfield (duh), Beamer has been credited with something called "Beamer ball". Of course, every coach (again, except Rick Neuheisel) emphasizes the importance of scoring on special teams and defense, and would like to score as much as possible in those phases of the game.
Unnecessary connection between the two teams that will surely be the lead note in the notebooks of a few media members in the week before the game: Michael Vick played for Beamer at Virginia Tech and then played for Jim Mora for the Atlanta Falcons. Vick then went to prison for a while for killing dogs, which is unrelated, but will also factor into the notebooks.
Quick Primer on Virginia Tech
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