Monday, August 31, 2009

Virginia Tech Season Preview: Part 2

Ok so here's my game by game look at the Hokies schedule. Brian's will be posted in the coming days, there are only a few left before next Saturday hits!

Alabama @ Virginia Tech (Georgia Dome in Atlanta)

The last time the Hokies took on an SEC team in 2007 national champions LSU, it was an embarrassing misstep for the Hokies. The defense looked slow, the offensive line could stop no one and the only bright spot was Tyrod Taylor running all over the Tigers and scoring Tech’s only score. This o-line is much improved and Tyrod has far more experience, not to mention the Tide is breaking in a new quarterback. Bud Foster eats untested QBs for breakfast (he also serves them at his restaurant in Blacksburg).

Alabama 21
Virginia Tech 28

Marshall @ Virginia Tech

Marshall is still in a rebuilding process, but they’re a solid early season opponent. The Herd returns a 1,000-yard rusher in Darius Marshall and linebacker Mario Harvey had 107 tackles and 4.5 sacks last season. Tough match up for the Thundering Herd though.

Marshall 17
Virginia Tech 35

Nebraska @ Virginia Tech

The Hokies pulled the upset last season on the road in Lincoln over a good team. Bo Pellini’s first season leading the Huskers ended with a 10-4 record and a Gator Bowl victory over Clemson. The defense improved then and looks to continue the trend this year. Defensive tackle Ndamukong Suh returns after 76 tackles and 7.5 sacks last year. He may be the best lineman in the nation. It will be a tough match up won in the trenches.

Nebraska 14
Virginia Tech 17

Miami @ Virginia Tech

Miami got the best of Tech last season 16-14 in Miami in what was a very ugly game. Randy Shannon has got the ‘Canes moving in the right direction and this year could be big for them. Jacory Harris is now the uncontested starter at quarterback with the messy transfer of Robert Marve. Harris should take a step or two forward this season and be able to improve on their 7-6 record last year.

Miami 24
Virginia Tech 28

Virginia Tech @ Duke

Don’t laugh when I say this, Duke is a good football team. Defensive tackle Vince Oghobasse is a potential first round pick in next year’s NFL draft and linebacker Vincent Rey is coming off 107 tackles last year. The offense is led by Thaddeus Lewis who threw for 2,171 yards and 15 touchdowns last season. The receivers need to step up and so does the offensive line, but they may just be able to climb out of the ACC Coastal division cellar.

Virginia Tech 35
Duke 14

Boston College @ Virginia Tech

This has been a closely contested series throughout its history, but this year the balance of power falls decidedly in the Hokies’ favor. Montel Harris is a fine young running back for the Eagles, but the offensive cupboard is pretty bare apart from his 900 rushing yards from 2008. BC is also without Mark Herzlich, the best defensive player in the ACC and arguably the best linebacker in the country who is out for the season as he battles cancer. Frank Spaziani may have a tough go of things in his first season in charge.

Boston College 10
Virginia Tech 31

Virginia Tech @ Georgia Tech

The Hokies have had a surprising amount of luck against the Yellow Jackets in Atlanta since joining the ACC. This year will be the toughest test yet though. Quarterback Josh Nesbitt returns to lead Paul Johnson’s dynamic offense and the running back combination of Jonathan Dwyer and Roddy Jones will look to continue running all over ACC defenses. Defensively the Jackets must replace defensive end Michael Johnson and tackles Daryl Richard and Vance Walker. That leaves some big holes to fill up front. The game came down to the final moments last season in Blacksburg and this year will be no different.

Virginia Tech 31
Georgia Tech 35

North Carolina @ Virginia Tech

There are two gigantic factors in this one. First the game is in Blacksburg on a Thursday night. The Hokies are dominant on Thursday nights, only ever losing to Boston College a handful of times. Second, Frank Beamer owns Butch Davis. Both at Miami and North Carolina, Davis is just 1-6 against the Hokies. Carolina has a talented group and it all starts on defense. Quan Sturdivant and Bruce Carter lead the linebackers and defensive tackle Marvin Austin is a stud. It’ll be tough, but Tech prevails in this one.

North Carolina 17
Virginia Tech 24

Virginia Tech @ East Carolina

The Hokies look to avenge a tough opening loss last season in this one. Quarterback Patrick Pinkney will once again have to shoulder the load offensively. The big key for the Pirates is to avoid a collapse. Last year after knocking of Tech and West Virginia, ECU lost three games in a row. Consistency will take time.

Virginia Tech 42
East Carolina 21

Virginia Tech @ Maryland

Maryland was wildly inconsistent last season ending up with an 8-5 record. This year won’t be much different. The defense lost 7 starters off a mediocre unit and the offense lost its biggest playmaker in Derrius Heyward-Bey. Chris Turner is back at quarterback however and Da’Rel Scott returns after rushing for 1,133 yards last year. Maryland will make a bowl game, but probably not a great one.

Virginia Tech 38
Maryland 24

North Carolina State @ Virginia Tech

NC State is doing well under Tom O’Brien and looks to make their second consecutive bowl game. Sophomore quarterback Russell Wilson’s performance may be the key to making that a reality. With no proven running backs, Wilson will look to build on his nearly 2,000 yards passing and 17 touchdowns to just 1 interception. He also ran for 388 yards. State will go about as far as Wilson’s arm can take them, which could be pretty far.

NC State 24
Virginia Tech 35

Virginia Tech @ Virginia

The Wahoos lose their entire starting linebacker group and the defense will not be in good shape aside from corner Vic Hall who had 59 tackles and was also the team’s best quarterback at the end of the year rushing for over 100 yards against the Hokies. QB Jameel Sewell returns from his academic suspension, which should help matters offensively. Head coach Al Groh remains a favorite in Blacksburg, and one of the best things to happen to Virginia Tech in their football history.

Virginia Tech 42
Virginia 10

Florida State @ Virginia Tech (ACC Championship Game in Tampa, FL)

Last season in Tallahassee the Hokies were down to their emergency third-string quarterback and they still made things interesting despite ultimately falling short. This FSU club is improved and should win the ACC’s Atlantic division without much trouble. Quarterback Christian Ponder has the potential to be terrific, but poor decisions plagued him at times last season. If he plays every game like he did against the Hokies, he’ll have an excellent year. Almost all of the ‘Noles receivers were suspended and now reinstated after a fight in the middle of campus in broad daylight, so it appears FSU is back to the way they used to do things. A Good sign for folks in the Florida capital.

Florida State 24
Virginia Tech 31

A record of 12-1 is what I’m predicting for the 2009 Hokies. This is the toughest schedule in school history, so I felt like the odds just scream at least one loss somewhere. If they really do navigate the tough first 4 games however, it’s more than possible they’ll go undefeated. The national championship talk is justified, but that’s a long way off. If Tech loses the opener to Alabama and then runs the table though, they still have a good shot.

This season marks the ten-year anniversary of Tech’s only national championship appearance when a 19-year-old Michael Vick ran circles around Florida State in the Sugar Bowl. He brought the Hokies to a 29-28 lead at the end of the third quarter. Then Chris Weinke, a full ten years older than Vick made some plays and Peter Warrick did the rest giving them the hardware.

Oddly enough, FSU head-man Bobby Bowden had encouraging words for Frank Beamer this preseason.

"[Frank Beamer] hangs around so close," Bowden said. "I equate it to putting. He's lipped out so many times. One of them is going to fall here before long."

Maybe this year, Frank will finally sink a putt.

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