Countdown to Kickoff: Virginia Tech Hokies
Hokies Look to Keep Their String of Success Going
One could argue that Virginia Tech has assumed the mantle of the ACC's signature football program. The Hokies have won the conference four times in eight years, represented the ACC in a BCS bowl game four times in the last five years and have reeled off double-digit victories in eight consecutive seasons. With 19 straight postseason appearances, the Hokies have the third-longest bowl streak in the NCAA, and head coach Frank Beamer's 251 wins are the highest total of any active FBS coach.
The Hokies have some work to do in their quest to win 10 games for a ninth-straight year. The first order of business is finding replacements for eight starters from an offense that ranked third in the ACC in yards-per-game (413.0) and second in rushing (186.9).
Tech's offense will revolve around massive, 6-6, 260-pound junior quarterback Logan Thomas, who blossomed into one of the most dangerous signal callers in the nation in his first year as the full-time starter, finishing the season with 19 touchdown passes, 11 more scores on the ground and a 59.8 percent completion rate. Running back David Wilson has moved on to the NFL and will be replaced by a group that includes redshirt freshmen Michael Holmes, true freshman J.C. Coleman and senior Martin Scales. Jarrett Boykin and Danny Coale and their 121 combined receptions and eight touchdowns have also moved on, but there's talent aplenty at wide receiver: speedy Dyrell Roberts (three catches, 45 yards in 2011) and big play receivers Marcus Davis and D.J. Coles (66 combined catches for 990 yards and eight TDs) will move into featured roles. The offensive line has been a strength in Blacksburg for years, but the Hokies will need to replace four starters (including Jacobs Blocking Trophy recipient Blake DeChristopher) to maintain the standard that saw them allow just 17 sacks along with their ACC-runner-up rushing mark.
The Hokies have hung their lunch pail on defense during the Beamer era, ranking fourth nationally in total defense over their last double-digit victory seasons (285.1 yards per game), and the 2012 unit could be one of coordinator Bud Foster's best. Tech needs to replace Honorable Mention All-America corner Jayron Hosley and safety Eddie Whitley from a group that finished 10th nationally in total defense and tied for the ACC lead in sacks with 41. Thirteen of those sacks came from the defensive end tandem of James Gayle and J.R. Collins, who flank tackles Derrick Hopkins and Luther Maddy to form an intimidating line that is also deep with tackles Antoine Hopkins and Corey Marshall and ends Zach McCray and Tyrel Wilson also expect to see playing time. The linebackers are versatile and speedy, headlined by senior All-ACC honoree Bruce Taylor (53 tackles, five sacks in eight games in 2011) and steady contributions from Tariq Edwards, Jack Tyler, and Chase Williams. Secondary experience is a concern following the loss of Hosley and Whitley from a group that allowed a meager 49.9 percent completion rate and picked off 16 passes in 2011, but the pieces are there for success with corners Kyle Fuller and Antoine Exum and safeties Dietrick Bonner and Kyshawn Jarrett. Placekicker Cody Journell (14-17 on FGs in 2011) was reinstated in July following a long suspension, but punter is a concern as departing wide receiver Coale was the team's yardage leader (43.5 yards per punt).
Tech faces a tough schedule which includes a season-opener against Coastal Division rival Georgia Tech on Labor Day Monday Night (ESPN), and games with Atlantic Division favorites in Florida State and Clemson, as well as tough non-conference tests at Pittsburgh and against Cincinnati at FedEx Field in Landover, Md. And Beamer's 2012 edition may have a few more question marks to answer than usual, especially offensively and at punter. But if he and his staff can find the answers to the offensive line puzzle, develop an effective ground game and reinstate Tech's dominant special teams, these Hokies will have a good chance of continuing their winning ways.
2011 In Review
Frank Beamer's 25th season in Blacksburg was memorable for more than one reason...Beamer is now the winningest active coach in the NCAA's FBS, totaling 251 career victories...209 of those triumphs have occurred at his alma mater, making him just the 10th head coach to post 200 or more wins at one school...Beamer also moved into 8th place on the NCAA's all-time wins list and he begins 2012 just four wins behind Nebraska's Tom Osborne and six in back of BYU's LaVell Edwards for 7th and 6th places respectively...But Beamer's greatest accomplishment may have been just getting the Hokies back into the ACC Football Championship Game...With a defense that returned only four starters and lost playmakers such as LB Bruce Taylor, DT Antoine Hopkins and Whip LB Jeron Gouveia-Winslow for virtually all of 2011, Beamer, with the guidance of long-time defensive coordinator Bud Foster, fashioned a unit which was 7th nationally in scoring defense, 10th in total defense and 14th in defense against the run...That, combined with a spectacular first-year from QB Logan Thomas, who ran and passed for a school-record 3,482 yards and 30 touchdowns, and an equally outstanding last year from TB David Wilson, who rushed for 1,709 yards--the 3rd-best season in ACC history--helped the Hokies find their way to Charlotte for the second straight year and compile an 11-3 overall record, 7-1 in the ACC, earning a No. 17 national ranking (USA Today) in the process...Wilson, a 2nd-team All-America, was named the ACC Player of the Year after ranking 8th nationally in rushing...Senior T Blake DeChristopher earned the ACC Jacobs Blocking Trophy Award, as the league's top blocker,...Senior WR Danny Coale was the winner of the Jim Tatum Award, as the ACC's top football scholar-athlete.
Tech now faces almost the exact opposite challenge than it did a year ago...Of its 11 starters lost, 8 are from an offensive unit that averaged 422 yards over its final 9 games...Gone are four starters from the line in DeChristopher, OGs Jaymes Brooks and Greg Nosal and T Andrew Lanier; a pair of four-year starters at WR in Coale and Jarrett Boykin, TE Chris Drager and Wilson...On defense, Tech loses only two starters, but they were good ones--CB Jayron Hosley, who earned Honorable Mention All-America honors and FS Eddie Whitley...Additionally, PK Cody Journell, who made 14 of 17 FGs (.824), was suspended indefinitely prior to the Sugar Bowl.
Numbers & Notes
3rd - Virginia Tech has been to 19 consecutive bowl games. That is the 3rd-longest current streak in the NCAA, trailing only Florida State (30) and Florida (21) among the nation's FBS teams.
7th - Virginia Tech finished 7th nationally in scoring defense, allowing its opponents to score just 17.64 points per game. Tech was also 10th nationally in total defense.
8 - Virginia Tech is the only team in the country that has won at least 10 games in each of the past eight seasons. Since the beginning of the 2004 season, the Hokies have posted an overall record of 84-24 (.778) including a 53-11 mark against ACC foes (.828) in regular season play.
13 - The number of QB sacks that DE's James Gayle (7.0) and J.R. Collins (6.0) combined to make last fall.
251 - The number of career coaching victories for Virginia Tech Head Coach Frank Beamer. Beamer, who has an overall 251-121-4 record for 31 seasons as a head coach, leads all active NCAA FBS coaches. Beamer ranks 8th in career wins among all former FBS head coaches.
285.1 - Over the last eight years, Virginia Tech ranks 4th in the nation in total defense. During that 108-game span, the Hokies have allowed their opponents an average of just 285.1 yards per game. Only Alabama (265.2), Ohio State (283.12) and LSU (284.72) have allowed fewer yards in that time, and all three have played fewer games during that span than have the Hokies.
3,482 - The number of yards of total offense last year for Virginia Tech QB Logan Thomas. In his first season as a starter, Thomas set a Virginia Tech mark for total offense in a season, breaking the previous record of 3,402 yards set by Tyrod Taylor one year before.
Virginia Tech 2012 Football Schedule
Sept. 3 at Georgia Tech
Sept. 8 vs. Austin Peay
Sept. 15 at Pittsburgh
Sept. 22 vs. Bowling Green
Sept. 29 vs. Cincinnati
Oct. 6 at North Carolina
Oct. 13 vs. Duke
Oct. 20 at Clemson
Nov. 1 at Miami
Nov. 8 vs. Florida State
Nov. 17 at Boston College
Nov. 24 vs. Virginia