The 2012 college football season is only a couple weeks away and the Rant Sports 100 in 100 is counting down to the number one team, today we take a look at the number 18 team on the list, the Virginia Tech Hokies.
Virginia Tech has been the most consistent collegiate football program since 2004. The Hokies have won at least ten games in eight straight seasons, the longest active streak in the country and the third-longest streak ever in the modern era.
Virginia Tech’s biggest question in 2012 surrounds the offense. Four of last year’s starting five offensive lineman graduated, wide receivers Jarrett Boykin and Danny Coale are now in the NFL and running back David Wilson (2011 ACC Player of the Year) left early to be a first round draft pick.
The Hokies have dealt with mass replacements before, and it never seems to matter as much as it should. Programs can deal with that kind of turnover if they have a consistent regime of coaches. Head coach Frank Beamer, defensive coordinator Bud Foster and offensive coordinator Bryan Stinespring have been the leaders of this team for a long time, meaning that there is no reason to believe that the 10+ win streak won’t continue in 2012.
Quarterback – Logan Thomas was a revelation for the Hokies last year. At 6’6” and 260 lbs. Thomas drew a lot of comparisons to 2010 Heisman Trophy winner Cam Newton last year, but that wasn’t really fair. Thomas is much more of a bruising runner then Newton ever was. If Thomas gets to the second level watch out because he is hard to bring down.
Thomas had one of the greatest seasons a Virginia Tech quarterback has ever had last season. He passed for 3,013 yards and 19 touchdowns. For good measure he rushed for 469 yards on the ground and 11 touchdowns, and that was just his first season as the starter.
Defense – Bud Foster’s lunch pail defense has always been one of Virginia Tech’s biggest strengths. The Hokies defense was ranked seventh in the nation last year in points allowed per game (17.6 points) and nine of eleven starters from last year are returning. The only losses from last year’s group are in the secondary. Star corner Kyle Fuller will be taking over Jayron Hosley’s boundary corner position this year, and Antone Exum is moving from safety to the field corner. This could be one of the best defensive units Foster has ever had.
Offensive Line – As previously stated, Virginia Tech lost four of five starters from last year’s offensive line. The line is by no means a patchwork this season, but there is a lack of experience. In spring practice, the offensive line couldn’t have looked any worse. There were sacks a plenty and they weren’t opening up running lanes, but in Saturday’s open scrimmage the line looked a lot better. This line is improving but it is still a big question mark in 2012.
Kickers – It is hard to believe that special teams could be a weakness on a Frank Beamer coached team, but it will be in 2012. The place kicker was a huge question mark a couple of weeks ago, but Cody Journell has been reinstated on the team, he was kicked off the team before the Sugar Bowl because he was arrested. Journell was able to get a misdemeanor trespassing charge rather than a felony charge for breaking and entering, so field goal kicking is set.
Punting is another matter. Last year wide receiver Danny Coale became the punter late in the season because Frank Beamer couldn’t find a consistent punter. Coale is gone this year and the competition is between Hunter Windmuller and A.J. Hughes. Neither have proven to be very consistent in practice this year.
Wide Receivers – Jarrett Boykin and Danny Coale rank first and second, respectively, in receptions in Virginia Tech history. They are leaving some big shoes to fill in 2012. Marcus Davis is the number one option this year. Davis is arguably the most athletic player on the Hokies roster, but he hasn’t fully lived up to his potential as of yet. 2011 was his best season to date when he caught 30 passes for 510 yards and five touchdowns. The Hokies need more from him in 2012.
The second and third receivers will be Dyrell Roberts and D.J. Coles. Roberts has spent the majority of the past two seasons on the bench with serious injuries, but when he is on the field he is a playmaker. Coles caught 36 passes last season for 480 yards and three touchdowns. He is a possession receiver who can do some damage from the slot.
The Hokies will once again win 10 games this season and repeat as Coastal Division champions in the ACC. If Virginia Tech comes up against Florida State or Clemson in the ACC Championship game come September then it could mean trouble, but Frank Beamer will once again have a successful season in Blacksburg.