The Virginia Tech Hokies will come into the 2009 season with lofty expectations. A third straight ACC Championship is expected, and many feel a national championship is well within reach. Offense has been an issue for the Hokies in recent years, but this year may be different.
The Hokies have depth at offensive line, wide receiver, and the Hokies are L-O-A-D-E-D at running back. But there's one problem: Quarterback.
Although Tech fans were on Sean Glennon's case for the entirety of his Virginia Tech career, he was a great cushion to fall back on when Tyrod Taylor would struggle or become injured.
Taylor is now the guy under center with no questions asked. But can he hold up? Has he fixed the hitch in his throwing motion? According to the Virginia Tech coaching staff, the hitch is fixed, which they say has allowed Taylor to become a more accurate passer. The strength and conditioning coaches have been working on strengthening Taylor's ankles, which have caused him to miss playing time throughout his career.
With quarterback being the only position where depth is an issue on the offensive side of the ball, the Hokies offense should be looking up for the 2009 season.
The offensive line is tied with Notre Dame with the most combined starts in the NCAA with 100. Senior Sergio Render is the anchor of the offensive line at the right guard position, with Ed Wang and Blake DeChristopher at the right tackle and left tackle spots respectively.
Beau Warren will be the replacement for Ryan Shuman at center and Jaymes Brooks, who filled in for Nick Marshaman in the Orange Bowl, will look to continue that great performance at the left guard position.
Wide receiver was an issue last year, but that was due to inexperience. Although most of the receivers we have are sophomores, they're probably the most experienced sophomore receiving corps in the country.
Jarrett Boykin came on strong at the end of last season and will look to build on that (by the way, his hands are huge). Danny Coale will also look to improve on a pretty good freshman year, and Dyrell Roberts will help the team at wide receiver and as a kick returner.
The biggest gain may be the return of senior wideout Brandon Dillard, who missed all of last year with a ruptured Achilles' tendon. He was the fastest player on the team before the injury last spring.
Lumping the tight ends with the receiving corps, Greg Boone will play another critical role on offense this upcoming season, but should have a lot of help. Freshman Logan Thomas was the highest rated tight end prospect in the country last year and the coaching staff will be using him as a wide receiver/tight end. You may even consider Thomas as an H-Back for the upcoming season. Chris Drager and Sam Wheeler also provide good depth at tight end.
The Wild Turkey will be utilized once again this year, and the coaching staff has talked about using a number of different guys in the system, most notably Boone and Thomas. Thomas for his athleticism and Boone for his size and power in key downs. We may also see the running backs under center in this formation.
The running back position is as strong as it has ever been. Darren Evans is coming off his record breaking freshman year, becoming the first freshman running back to rush for over 1,000 yards.
Kenny Lewis Jr. was the starter at the beginning of last year, but a ruptured Achilles forced him to miss much of the season, which led to the emergence of Evans.
This year Lewis will likely be the third option at running back with Ryan Williams entering the scene. Williams was red-shirted last year, but dominated the spring with Evans and Josh Oglesby missing much of the spring with injuries.
Evans and Williams will give Tech their best one-two punch since "The Untouchables," which consisted of Lee Suggs and Kevin Jones. However, Lewis gives the Hokies a good receiving threat out of the backfield on third and long, and Oglesby will likely see most of his action in short down situations.
The 2009 Virginia Tech offense actually has a chance of being dangerous. This means good things for the Hokies, since Bud Foster's defense always seems to find its way into the top 10 every year. Tech, if Taylor stays healthy, should have one of the best offenses in the ACC, if not the best.
The Hokies are the hands down favorite to win the ACC for a thrid straight year, and have a good chance at running the table. However, their schedule isn't the easiest. If the Hokies can roll through the first four weeks unscathed, playing Alabama in Atlanta and then Marshall, Nebraska, and Miami at home, they have a great chance of going undefeated in regular season play.
2009 may be Virginia Tech's best chance to win a national title since the Vick era, but it's up to the offense to come through.