Sunday, August 20, 2006

Virginia Tech Football Preview

The Hokies are coming off a very good 11-2 season and a Gator Bowl victory against a strong Louisville team. Virginia Tech has double-digit wins in 5 of the last 7 seasons. But they come into this season with alot of question marks. Who will be the starting Quarterback? Is Brandon Ore completely recovered from off-season shoulder surgery? How good will the defense be without the senior leadership of Darryl Tapp, Jimmy Williams, James Anderson and Jonathan Lewis? Some of these questions have been answered but most won’t be answered untill the kickoff of the 2006 season.


With constant trouble-maker Marcus Vick no longer with the Hokies, the obvious question has been who will become the new starter? That question has been answered, Sophomore Sean Glennon was named the starter for the season opener against Northeastern on September 2. Glennon is a true pocket passer, which the Hokies haven’t had in a very long time. For most of the off-season it has been a three man race to see who would be the starting quarterback. One of the other QBs in the race is fellow Sophomore Cory Holt, who backed up Marcus Vick last year. Cory is 6-4 222 and a very gifted runner as is 6-4 206 Redshirt Freshman Ike Whitaker. If Glennon can’t get it done then I look for Frank Beamer to turn to Holt.


After losing the Senior duo of Mike Imoh and Cedric Humes, the Hokies have another promising duo, Branden Ore and George Bell. Branden Ore had off-season shoulder surgery but is fully recovered and is the go to guy. He had 647 rushing yards on only 109 attempts. With those numbers as a third string freshman, the sky is the limit as a starter. I am predicting Ore to have over 1,000 yards, which would be the first Hokie to do that since Kevin Jones did it in 2003. George Bell is 5-10 220 with good speed and good power. I expect him to be a third down and goal line type guy this year. With this duo, the ACC can expect more pounding ground game out of Blacksburg.

Receivers/Tight Ends

This is already said to be the most talented receiving cores ever at Virginia Tech. With David Clowney, Josh Morgan, Eddie Royal, Josh Hyman and Justin Harper, look for the Hokies to pass more than ever. Royal and Clowney will be the deep threats. Morgan, Hyman and Harper are known more for their strength and size at split end. With only 28 receptions last year, look for Morgan to get more opportunities this year. With the loss of Jeff King at Tight End the Hokies will most likely look to their Freshmen. Sam Wheeler and Ed Wang are both unproven, so the Hokies might use more sets with three wideouts to get the best players on the field.

Offensive Line

This is one of the most inexperienced group of linemen at VT in a while. They only have two returning starters in Danny McGrath and Duane Brown. They will fill the other three holes with highley thought of Freshman Sergio Render, Brandon Frye and Nick Marshmann. This Offensive line must learn to pass block better if they hope to free up the talented receivers.

Defensive Line

After key losses of Darryl Tapp and Jonathan Lewis, you would think that they would be worried about their situation. But no, Chris Ellis, who had six sacks last season, is ready and more than capable of replacing Tapp and becoming the next great Virginia Tech defensive end. Ellis also has a nice compliment in Noland Burchette on the other side. The real question is the defensive tackles. Carlton Powell had a decent sophomore season after returning from ankle injury. The one thing VT needs to look for is a disruptive force in the middle like Jonathan Lewis. They need to look no futher than Kory Robertson. He is just huge at 6-2 331 pounds, he has the ability to plug the holes and create havoc for opposing offensive lines.


The only significant loss here is James Anderson. But it looks like Breneden Hill will hold off Corey Gordon for that spot. There is no 1-2 punch at the LB position like Xavier Adibi and Vince Hall. Remember those two names because they will both be All-Americans. Adibi has excellent speed and hits as hard truck.But he must develop in pass coverage. Vince Hall has extremely good vision and never shys away from contact. Virginia Tech is solid at the linebacker position.

Defensive Backs

The secondary should continue to be very good even with the loss of All-American Jimmy Williams and punishing hitter Justin Hamilton. Safety Aaron Rouse is one of the most underrated safeties in the ACC and maybe the whole country. He hits hard, he is a ballhawk and he has great closing speed. Cornerback Roland Minor, who started 12 games last year and had 3 interceptions with 1 TD will be the starter but he is being pushed by a very gifted athlete in Victor Harris. Another possible starter at corner is Brandon Flowers who is very promising and isn’t afraid of contact. D.J. Parker is more than ready to be the full-time starter at free safety.

Speacial Teams

Frank Beamer is the speacial teams guru. He has been paying even more attention this season after a bit of down season last year. Eddie Royal and Josh Morgan are going to be the returners once again this year and Royal is looking to have a huge year. Brandon Pace is one of the most realiable kickers in the ACC after making 19-22 in FGs. Nic Schmitt is a tank of a man at 6-2 273. That’s right I said 273 pounds. He averaged 43.2 yards per punt last year which is good enough for second all-time in school history. Beamer will be looking to enhance “Beamer Ball” in practice after only blocking 3 kicks last season.

Coaching Staff

Frank Beamer is the Head Coach and the special teams coach. He has been the Head Hokie for 19 years now and 25th at the school. The offensive coordinator is Bryan Stinespring. He has been the coordinator for 5 years now and he has been at the school for 17 years. He has the best receiving core and a great ground game this season. Bud Foster is the defensive coordinator. He has been with hokies for 20 years and he has been the defensive coordinator for 12 years. He is one of the best coordinators in the country and many teams have tried to pry him away but they have had no luck.


The outlook for this season looks good. We have a good running game, a pocket passer that will be able to find each and eveyone our great receivers. On the defensive side of the ball, you can look for the Hokies to be a top team once again. Our schedule is very generous and we should get double digit wins.

Sept. 2 Northeastern
Sept. 9 at North Carolina
Sept. 16 Duke
Sept. 23 Cincinnati
Sept. 30 Georgia Tech
Oct. 12 at Boston College*
Oct. 21 Southern Miss
Oct. 26 Clemson*
Nov. 4 at Miami
Nov. 11 Kent State
Nov. 18 at Wake Forest
Nov. 25 Virginia

Our tough games this season are at Miami, Clemson and Boston College. Once we get passed those it should be easy sailing. I’m not going to predict a record, mainly because I feel they have a shot at 11-1 or even 12-0.

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