2010 NCAA Football Team Preview: Virginia Tech Hokies

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Between now and the September 2nd season kick-off, Danny Hobrock will be previewing all the major college football teams with new teams being released daily.

2009 Season Breakdown

2009 final record (overall, conference): 10-3, 6-2
Bowl Game: Chick-fil-A Bowl (W 37-14 vs. Tennessee)
Final Ranking (AP, Coaches'): 10, 10
Conference finish: 2nd ACC Coastal
Offensive rank: 50
Defensive rank: 12

2009 Individual Statistical Leaders

Rushing: Ryan Williams, 1,655 yards, 21 TD
Passing: Tyrod Taylor, 2,311 yards, 13 TD, 5 INT
Receiving: Jarrett Boykin, 835 yards, 5 TD; Danny Coale, 614 yards, 2 TD
Tackles: Cody Grimm, 106 total tackles; Barquell Rivers, 96 total tackles
Sacks: Nekos Brown, 6.5 sacks (6 solo, 1 assisted)
Interceptions: Rashad Carmichael, 6 interceptions (1 touchdown)

2010 Season Outlook

(* denotes conference game)

Key Matchups

September 6 vs. Boise State: A 'neutral' site game in Maryland will likely have a few more Hokies fans than Broncos fans in attendance, but Boise blue and orange should be well-represented in this one. This could be the first top ten matchup of the 2010 season depending on how the preseason rankings eventually shake out.

November 4 vs. Georgia Tech: The winner of this matchup has gone on to represent the Coastal Division in the ACC Championship the past five seasons. Facing the triple option of Georgia Tech is always a good test of a defense's discipline. This is a key game, but it's just the first in a string of three key Coastal Division matchups that will decide the division's representative in Charlotte.

November 13 @ North Carolina: While both teams field one of the game's better defenses, Virginia Tech holds the advantage as the more well-rounded team. Ryan Williams, Darren Evans and the Tech offensive line will have their work cut out for them facing the Tar Heels front seven, while Tyrod Taylor must be careful to avoid Deunta Williams and the UNC secondary that picked off 19 passes last season. They key could be the fact that Virginia Tech will field two 1,000 yard rushers this season, giving them a set of fresh legs on every play to wear down the front seven of the Tar Heels.

November 20 @ Miami: This is the game that may ultimately decide who represents the Coastal in the championship game. The rivalry stretches back to the Big East days, but Virginia Tech is 4-2 against the 'Canes since joining the ACC. The series is even at 5-5 over the past 10 seasons. Last year, in Blacksburg, the 'Canes couldn't get anything going against the Hokies. This season, in Miami, the Hokies will not be able to afford to fall stagnant on offense the way the 'Canes did last season. I expect both teams to come to play in this one with the division possibly on the line.

Preseason Rankings (will not officially be released until August)


Coaches': N/A

Key Losses

Greg Boone, TE; Ed Wang, OT; Sergio Render, G; Jason Worilds, DE; Nekos Brown, DE; Cordarrow Thompson, DT; Cody Grimm, LB; Stephen Virgil, CB; Kam Chancellor, S

Key Returning Players

Tyrod Taylor, QB; Ryan Williams, RB; Darren Evans, RB; Danny Coale, WR; Jarrett Boykin, WR; John Graves, DT; Barquell Rivers, LB; Rashad Carmichael, CB; Davon Morgan, S

Offensive Overview

The loss of guard Sergio Render and tackle Ed Wang leaves a hole on the left side of the offensive line. Guard Greg Nosal and tackle Nick Becton will protect Taylor's blindside in place of the departed linemen. Nosal was most impressive this spring after serving as an often-used backup in 2009, while Becton played in a limited role backing up Wang last season, but was able to claim the starting position this spring. Tackle Blake DeChristopher and guard James Brooks return to starting positions on the right side and center Beau Warren also returns.

Taylor returns for his third season as the starting quarterback and has seen his passing numbers improve every season. Taylor has emerged as a complete quarterback heading into the 2010 season. Defenses will go into the season respecting his ability to throw the ball consistently, but must still respect his ability to scramble to buy time/make something happen/take off with the ball.

At tailback, the Tech coaches have a bit of a problem on their hands, but it's a good one. Ryan Williams emerged as the ACC Rookie of the Year in 2009 coming off a 1,655 yard, 21 touchdown season, while Darren Evans rushed for 1,265 yards and 11 touchdown in 2008. Evans was injured all of last season with a torn ACL in his left knee. Splitting the carries between two 1,000 yard rushers isn't a bad problem to have, but it will be interesting to see how the carries are divvied up. The two strike a nice balance with Williams a game breaker and Evans more a bruising back, and will form one of the most feared backfield duos in the nation in the coming season. David Wilson is the third back on the depth chart, but may use his redshirt this season facing limited playing time in 2010.

The wide receivers have blossomed into a consistent bunch with juniors Jarrett Boykin and Danny Coale leading the way. Dyrell Roberts was the third leading receiver last season and will also be used significantly in the offense, while Marcus Davis could see his role increase this season.

Defensive Overview

The biggest question mark on the defense will be the defensive line who replaces three starters from a season ago. The pass rush took a big hit when defensive end Jason Worilds decided to leave a year of eligibility on the table and ply his trade in the NFL. Cordarrow Thompson and Nekos Brown are also gone, leaving defensive tackle John Graves the only starter returning from last year's squad. The pressure will be on tackle Antoine Hopkins and ends Steven Friday and Chris Drager to win the battle in the trenches and put pressure on the quarterback. Kwamaine Battle could see time at tackle, while redshirt freshmen J.R. Collins and James Gayle could see some playing time at end. Jake Johnson was moved from linebacker to defensive end this spring, but has left the program, landing at South Alabama in June.

Linebacker Barquell Rivers hopes to be ready to go by the time the opener against Boise State rolls around, but what was supposed to be a three to four month recovery from a torn quadriceps has turned into a four to five month recovery. Expect to see Rivers in the starting lineup early in the season, but don't be surprised if he misses the first couple of games. Nonetheless, Rivers was named to the Lombardi Watch List in mid-June. Lyndell Gibson replaced Jake Johnson as the starter in the middle of the season, prompting his move to defensive end in the spring. Gibson is a player to watch in the ACC, as many expect big things from him in 2010. Replacing Cody Grimm won't be easy, but the task will likely fall on Jeron Gouveia-Winslow or Alonzo Tweedy.

With the front seven peppered with question marks, the secondary is the strength of this unit. Rashad Carmichael is the player to watch on the Hokies defense and is the widely considered the team's best pro prospect. He is one of the top cover cornerbacks in the ACC and is due for a standout season. Jayron Hosley should get the start at the other cornerback position with Chris Hill expected to challenge him for time. Davon Morgan at the rover position is another player to watch. Morgan started just the last four games of 2009, but played in every game, recording 47 tackles and 1.5 sacks. Antone Exum and Eddie Whitley are competing for time at free safety.

Special Teams Overview

Brian Saunders is the front runner to replace Brent Bowden at punter. Saunders has been the team's number two punter the past three seasons and will look to make the most of his opportunity in his senior season. Exactly who will replace kicker Matt Waldron is not so clear. Justin Myer has handled the kickoff duties the past two seasons and will likely do the same in 2010, while Chris Hazely is considered the frontrunner to take over field goal duties. David Wilson, unless he redshirts, Jayron Hosley and Dyrell Roberts are expected to handle return duties.

Head Coach: Frank Beamer

Frank Beamer was a cornerback for the Hokies in the late sixties and has been the embodiment of consistency since taking over as head coach in 1987. Under Beamer's watch, the Hokies have had just four losing seasons, all coming in his first six seasons in Blacksburg. He's led the Hokies to a bowl game in every season since 1993 and has claimed six conference titles (3 Big East, 3 ACC). Since joining the ACC in 2004, the Hokies have won at least 10 games in every season. Only Texas has finished with 10 or more wins in each season since 2004.

Beamerball is a term coined to describe a team that scores on offense, defense and special teams. Under Beamer, the Hokies have been the model of finding a way to score on all sides of the ball.

Top 2011 Draft Prospects

Tyrod Taylor, QB; Beau Warren, C; John Graves, DT; Rashad Carmichael, CB

Season Prediction

2nd ACC Coastal

Beamer and his staff enter 2010 charged with the task of replacing the left side of their offensive line and six starters on defense. With two 1,000 yard rushers sharing the backfield, a solid wide receivers corps and a quarterback with three years starting experience, the offense is in good shape and may actually be the strength of the Hokies, who have lately relied on their defense to win games.

Replacing three members of the defensive line, All-ACC first teamer Cody Grimm at linebacker and two members of a pass defense that ranked 11th in the nation (8th in pass efficiency defense) leaves the Hokies with question marks across their defensive depth chart. They even lost their punter and kicker from a season ago. But the Hokies have done well in replacing players who graduated or left early for the NFL, and will do so again. There are plenty of talented players on the roster set to take over for the departed players, and Virginia Tech should be right there with the Coastal Division's top teams.

November 4 to November 20 will define Virginia Tech's season with games against Georgia Tech, North Carolina and Miami. Any one of these four teams can win the division, making it one of the harder to call. The good news for Tech fans is that by the time November rolls around, any hint of inexperience on defense should be gone and the Hokies will be ready to take on their biggest conference foes. - Danny Hobrock

Danny is a sports journalist primarily covering college football and professional baseball. His work for Xtra Point Football has garnered national attention and is critically acclaimed. Danny is the former editor of a political and current events website and the editor of our college football content.

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