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Defense and Special Teams Reign Supreme with the Virginia Tech Hokies

Virginia Tech is likely to find itself in the ACC Title game this season based upon an outstanding defense that returns nine starters.  The defensive line returns seven of the top eight performers from last season, which is great news for head coach Frank Beamer as this elite unit limited opponents to a mere 80.4 yards per game (2.4 yards per play) in the final seven games of 2013 (27 sacks).  Together with one of the best defensive lines in college football, the Hokies enter the 2013-2014 campaign with a secondary that is rivaled by few others in football.  Despite the injury to Antone Exum, who turned down the NFL but tore his ACL in January, Virginia Tech is still led by 3rd Team ACC Kyle Fuller (Exum hopes to be back for 8/31 game against Alabama).  Finally, special teams is always synonymous with Virginia Tech as coach Beamer always does a terrific job with this unit.  Place kicker Cody Journell and punter A.J. Hughes lead this unit, but it should be noted that Beamer’s special teams unit has blocked 129 kicks in 322 games under his tenure.

VIRGINIA TECH HOKIES (Position-by-Position Analysis)

Quarterbacks – starter L.Thomas returns after a poor season (2,976, 51.3%, 18-16); excellent 2011 season for him; his poor LY is a plus, since Thomas does not leave for NFL; S/B great this year

Running backs – lose only strting & b/u FBs; used 4 RB rotation LY
vastly improved unit; much more exper & add talent

Receivers – lose top 3 WRs & 2 top TEs; add VHT rSr (’11 strtr) & rFr
same exper as LY

Offensive Line – LY’s unit was respectable after losing 151 car sts – 146 ypg, 3.7 ypc, 25 sks
TY lose 3 strtrs (1 to NFL); return 4 who each strted 5+
more exper & more to work with for new OL cch J.Grimes

Defensive Line – return 7 of top 8 from corps that was O/S in 2nd half of ’12 (incl 5 bowl tms)
W/B better & is one of FBS top OL’s (LY 134 ypg, 3.4 ypc, 35 sks)

Linebackers – lose 3 of top 4 LBs/tklrs; best LB played inj LY & returns at 100%
stronger than L2Y’s inj-plagued group (LY allw’d 22.8 ppg, most since ’03)

Defensive Backs – lose only 1/2 strtr from #8 ranked unit (top 15 finishes in 8 of last 9 yrs)
top CB K.Fuller tore ACL in Jan & is quest. For ’13; unit remains among NCAA’s elite

Special Teams – always a strong unit coached by HC, but only #37 LY (#44 in ’11)
all return & C/B a top 10 ranking TY

Coaches – HC F.Beamer enters 27th yr (taken VT to 20 consecutive bowls);
(na/1) new OC S.Loeffler was Auburn OC LY (’11 Temple OC; Fla QB cch prior 2 yrs);
B.Foster (DC since ’95) had his Def in top 10 7 of last 8 yrs but slipped to #18 LY

Overall Offensive ACC projections – #6 rush ypg, #8 pass ypg, #6 ppg

  • 6 starters return

Overall Defensive NCAA projections – #11 rush ypg, #6 pass ypg, #7 ppg, #4 ttl ypg
ACC proj #2 rush ypg, #2 pas ypg, #2 ppg

  • 9 starters return Rank

Experience Rank – 56 (of all NCAA FBS tms)

  • QB Thomas returns w/14 other ’12 strtrs; LY had only 1 OL strtr back (then inj)
  • S/B in ACC Title Gm w/QB Thomas returning to form
  • Inj Notes CB K.Fuller tore ACL in Jan’13 & is questionable
  • 7/11/13- #4 RB M.Holmes expelled from schl

Team Positive/Negative Factors -Impact for 2012

Net Close Wins/Losses – 3 close wins, 1 close loss last year
Schedule – 59th hardest (LY 37th); away vs Miami
Coach Change – new offensive coordinator