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2010 NCAA Football Preview: Virginia Tech Hokies

2009 Record: 10-3 (6-2 in ACC)
2009 Bowl: Chik-Fil-A Bowl (beat Tennessee 37-14)
Final 2009 AP Ranking: #10
Head Coach: Frank Beamer (187-92-2 at Virginia Tech, 229-115-4 All-Time)
Non-Conference Schedule: Boise State (9/6), James Madison (9/11), East Carolina (9/18), Central Michigan (10/9)

2009 Offensive Statistics
Scoring: 31.8 points per game (2nd in ACC)
Rushing Yards/Game: 208 (2nd in ACC, 14th in Nation)
Passing Yards/Game: 183 (9th in ACC)
Total Yards/Game: 392 (6th in ACC) 

2009 Defensive Statistics
Scoring: 15.6 points per game (1st in ACC, 9th in Nation)
Rushing Yards/Game: 128 (4th in ACC)
Passing Yards/Game: 167 (2nd in ACC, 11th in Nation)
Total Yards/Game: 295 (2nd in ACC, 12th in Nation)

2009 Misc Stats
Turnover Margin: +0.69 per game (1st in ACC, 13th in Nation)
Penalties: 48 yards per game (7th in ACC)

Returning Starters
Offense: 8
Defense: 5
Kicker/Punter: 0

Top Returning Statistical Leaders
Passing: QB Tyrod Taylor, Sr (136 of 243 for 2311 yds, 13 TD, 5 INT, 177 ypg, 370 yds rushing, 5 rushing TD)
Rushing: RB Ryan Williams, Soph (293 carries for 1655 yds, 21 TD, 5.6 ypc, 127 ypg)
Receiving: WR Jarrett Boykin, Jr (39 rec, 822 yds, 5 TD, 21 yds/rec, 3.0 rec/game)
Tackles: LB Barquell Rivers, Jr (96)
Sacks: DE Steven Friday, Sr (3.5)
Interceptions: CB Rashad Carmichael, Sr (6)

2010 Pre-Season Rankings
Athlon Sports: #10
Lindy's: #8
Mark Schlabach: #6
Phil Steele: #13
Rivals: #11
Scout: #7
Sporting News: #12
Sports Illustrated: #9

2010 Pre-Season ACC Coastal Prediction:
Athlon Sports: #1
Phil Steele: #2

2010 Bowl Prediction  
Athlon Sports: Orange Bowl (vs. Nebraska)
Phil Steele: Champs Sports Bowl (vs.Notre Dame)

Last year Virginia Tech opened the season with a tough loss to eventual Nation Champion Alabama. This year they open with a really tough Boise State team in a game that should vault the winner into early National Championship talk. Virginia Tech lost to North Carolina (by 3) and Georgia Tech (by 5) last year. Those are the two biggest games for the Hokies after they play Boise State as VT goes through a really tough Nov stretch of Georgia Tech, at UNC and at Miami. Virginia Tech has 6 straight 10 win seasons and has been to 17 straight bowl games. Both of those streaks look like they should stay in tact this year. We went where any self-respecting college football fan Gobbler Country to pick the brain of the SB Nation Blog.

What are the major strengths and biggest weaknesses of the team?

Our strengths will be offensive and defensive backfield while our weaknesses will probably be the offensive and defensive lines.

On offense, we return Tyrod Taylor at quarterback for his senior year and Ryan Williams who is coming off a record-breaking freshman season. Most of the freshman records he broke in 2009 were set by Darren Evans in 2008. Evans is back after missing last year due to a torn ACL.

The defensive backs are versatile and led by senior cornerback Rashad Carmichael. Carmichael was one of the most improved players on the team last year and had six interceptions. He will play boundary corner for the Hokies in 2010 which will require him to often be left on an island in coverage and help with run stopping.

The offensive line needs to be more consistent and do a better job of keeping Taylor upright this season. The Hokies have had one of the highest sack rates in the ACC each of the last two years despite having a mobile quarterback. The defensive line replaces three of four starters from last season, but returns its anchor in tackle John Graves. Finding capable pass rushes will be Bud Foster's top priority before the opener.

Looking at the schedule who will be the first major test and why?

The first major test comes in the first game against Boise State on Labor Day. The Broncos were undefeated last year and have a legitimate shot at the national championship if they can beat us in Washington.

What team on the schedule do you fear the most?

That would again be Boise State because of when we play them. We're replacing a lot of key components on defense and on the offensive line. Meanwhile, the Broncos return 21 of 22 starters on a team that didn't lose a game.

Who is the best player on your team that nobody talks about?

This would be wide receiver Jarrett Boykin. Everyone outside of Virginia Tech talks about the backfield and what we have coming back there, but Boykin really progressed as a receiver in 2009. He's become our best deep threat, averaging over 20 yards per catch last year with five touchdowns. He also had a big momentum-changing play at the end of the first half against Tennessee in the Peach Bowl (yes, I know what it's called).

Who is the best offensive player on the team?

Taylor. Evans is the workhorse and Williams gets the headlines, but Tyrod makes the whole thing go.

Who is the most impactful defensive player on the team?

Carmichael. I think he's going to have a breakout year this season.

What player(s) needs to step up this year in order for the team to reach it's full capability?

I don't care who it is, but someone at defensive end needs to step up and have a great year to compensate for the loss of Jason Worilds and Nekos Brown.

Gut feeling on the teams final record at the end of the regular season and what makes this a successful season in your eyes?

I think at the end of the year we'll be 10-2 with a conference loss on the road and a non-conference loss. I think the season is a success is we win the ACC.

Make sure to check out Gobbler Country this college football season. It should be one of the go-to places this fall before and after the Boise State game. You can also follow them on twitter @gobblercountry.

Previous ACC Previews
Boston College Eagles
Florida State Seminoles
Georgia Tech Yellow Jackets
Maryland Terrapins

Next Up: Duke Blue Devils

2010 Previews
Big 12- Kansas State Wildcats, Missouri Tigers, Texas Tech Red Raiders
Big East- Cincinnati Bearcats, Pittsburgh Panthers, Rutgers Scarlet Knights, USF Bulls, West Virginia Mountaineers
Big Ten- Illinois Fighting Illini, Michigan Wolverines, Minnesota Golden Gophers, Northwestern Wildcats, Purdue Boilermakers
C-USA- Houston Cougars, SMU Mustangs, Southern Miss Golden Eagles, Tulane Green Wave, UTEP Miners
MAC- Ball State Cardinals, Bowling Green Falcons, Buffalo Bulls, Central Michigan Chippewas, Temple Owls, Toledo Rockets
MWC- Colorado State Rams, UNLV Rebels, Utah Utes
Pac-10- Arizona State Sun Devils, Oregon Ducks, USC Trojans, Washington Huskies
SEC- Auburn Tigers, Kentucky Wildcats, Mississippi Rebels, South Carolina Gamecocks, Vanderbilt Commodores
Sun Belt- Troy Trojans
WAC- New Mexico State Aggies

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