When USA Today released their first official top-25 poll of the 2012 season last week, they had the Virginia Tech Hokies at No. 20.
With many questions surrounding the 2012 Hokies, some find that ranking to be about right.
The Hokies should have a stellar defense with nine starters returning. But the Hokies are replacing eight starters on the offensive side of the ball.
Over the years, the Hokies haven't always had the talent to match up with some of the other top teams in the country, but solid coaching elevated the team.
As we begin 2012, there are a few questions about the Virginia Tech coaching staff. Here are four items to keep an eye on as it pertains to the coaching staff this season.
Frank Beamer winning the big one isn't necessarily about winning the national championship in 2012.
Beamer has a career record of 1-27 against teams ranked in the top five.
This Hokies team isn't one that is expected to compete for the national championship, yet the Hokies could be in the driver's seat for another ACC title.
The Hokies have Florida State and Clemson on their schedule this season. Florida State is ranked No. 7 in the preseason poll while Clemson is ranked No. 14. The Hokies' struggles against Clemson in 2011 were well-documented.
Can Beamer overcome his team's notorious big-game struggles and lead the Hokies to a BCS win in 2012?
He can, but he has to get past Florida State and Clemson first.
Bud Foster returns nine starters from a defense that was ranked No. 10 overall in the country in 2011.
This defense has outstanding depth along the front seven. Each of the primary backups on the defensive line and at linebacker either have started or had significant playing time.
With an offense that could struggle early, even with outstanding quarterback Logan Thomas behind center, the Hokies will rely heavily on Foster's defense. Foster and his group will respond accordingly.
Shane Beamer returning to his alma mater before the 2011 season wasn't another case of nepotism.
Beamer had previously worked for Tennessee, Mississippi State and South Carolina before returning to Blacksburg. Beamer was not only special teams coach at South Carolina, but the recruiting coordinator as well.
Frank Beamer put his son in charge of running backs and named him associate head coach. And Shane Beamer is usually the primary recruiter for some of the Hokies' top high school targets.
While Shane isn't yet the head of the offense, things could begin to trend in that direction. If offensive coordinator Bryan Stinespring and quarterbacks coach/play-caller Mike O'Cain struggle in 2012, the Hokies already have someone on the staff to replace them.
The younger Beamer is more than ready for the added responsibilities.
Bryan Stinespring has been the target of Virginia Tech fans for a decade now. Stinespring, a former offensive line coach promoted to offensive coordinator in 2002, has seen his unit struggle at times through the years.
Before 2011, the Hokies re-assigned Stinespring to help coach the offensive line, tackles specifically, and stripped him of playcalling duties. He has remained offensive coordinator, at least in title only.
Curt Newsome enters his seventh season on the Hokies' staff. He was the former offensive line coach, but when Beamer shook up the coaching before last season, he put Newsome in charge of the interior offensive line only.
With the Hokies replacing eight new starters on the offensive line in 2012, Stinespring and Newsome are being counted upon to get the most out of their unit.
Coaches generally don't get responsibilities taken from them unless the head coach feels a change is needed. This could be Newsome's last chance as a member of the Hokies' coaching staff.
Keeping Logan Thomas protected and finding a running game are imperative for this year's team.
Are Stinespring and Newsome up for the challenge?