Rant Sports College Football Top 100: No. 35 Virginia Tech Hokies

Logan Thomas

Greg M. Cooper-USA TODAY Sports

As one of the most successful programs in the ACC for the better part of a decade, the Virginia Tech Hokies will go into the 2013 season as one of the favorites to win the conference for the fifth time in the past 10 years.

Frank Beamer is entering his 27th season as the head coach of the Hokies and, as one of the most successful coaches in the conference, he will look to lead Virginia Tech to their 21st straight bowl appearance. In their past 20 bowl appearances, the Hokies have gone 9-11. In fact, before the Beamer era started in 1987, the Hokies had won just one bowl game and appeared in just six.

Let’s see how the reigning Russell Athletic Bowl champions will fare in 2013 after a disappointing 2012 season.

KEY PLAYERS

Weapons are going to be a bit sparse in the upcoming season for the Hokies because they are losing their top receivers. However, by returning their top rushers and starting quarterback, Virginia Tech should be on the right track to improve on their 83rd nationally ranked scoring offense.

Logan Thomas is the key-returning player on offense and the senior quarterback will look to improve on his letdown of a 2012 season. He passed for just under 3,000 yards with 18 touchdowns and a reckless 16 interceptions with a mediocre 51.3 completion percentage.

They are also returning their top-two rushers from 2012. One is the quarterback Thomas and the other is running back J.C. Coleman who will be the starter as a sophomore in 2013. He ran the ball 109 times for 492 yards and two scores.

OFFENSE

As I stated earlier, the quarterback situation is set with Thomas and the coaching staff is hoping that he improves and matures enough this offseason to improve on his lackluster completion percentage and interception rate.

Also, the running back situation is set with J.C. Coleman and Thomas being quite the dual-threat.

However, the wide outs will be basically an all-new list of guys compared to last season. Losing their top receivers from 2012 will hurt, but D.J. Coles coming off a knee injury in 2012 and being one of the most capable guys on the roster will surely help out. Demitri Knowles is the second-best returning receiver from a season ago and will likely provide a bit of depth at the position. He is also an excellent kick returner.

The offense needs to improve mightily from their mediocre 83rd national scoring rank from 2012.

DEFENSE

The Hokies had one of the better defenses in the ACC, allowing just 22.8 points per game, which was good for the 32nd best mark in the country. However, losing top tackler and linebacker Jack Tyler will be a big blow to the middle of the defense.

Safety Kyshoen Jarrett is the top returning defensive asset, ranking second on the team in tackles last season with 83 and was also the team’s best punt returner. In fact, the junior ranked ninth in the nation in yards per punt return with 13.9 — showing his speed and versatility.

Returning seven defensive starters, including a majority of the defensive line, the Hokies’ defense should be solid in 2013. The defensive backs could be a toss-up, but were solid a year ago. Returning Kyle Fuller, Jarrett and Derrick Bonner should help out big time.

SCHEDULE

While the Hokies struggled more than they would have liked to in 2012, the 2013 season looks a bit more promising. Looking to win their first conference title since 2010 and their fifth since 2004.

Here’s a look at their toughest games in 2013: vs. Alabama Crimson Tide, vs. North Carolina Tar Heels, at Miami Hurricanes.

With a fairly easy schedule this season, the Hokies will likely be one of the teams to beat in the ACC. I think they will have a solid season with a lot of key returning pieces; I think they will finish 9-3 and 6-2 in conference, finishing atop the ACC Coastal division.

Connor Muldowney is a columnist for RantSports.com. Follow him on Twitter @Connormuldowney, “Like” him on Facebook or add him to your network on Google.

 

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