Five Reasons This Could Be Virginia Tech's Year (and Three Reasons Why Not)
There has been much hype surrounding the Virginia Tech football program for 2009.
Various media types have ranked this squad as high as fifth in preseason polls, perhaps the highest preseason start ever for the Hokies.
But can they do it?
Here are five reasons why they can. And then, for good measure, three reasons why they might not.
A Fierce Defense
One thing you can always count on when considering the Hokies is defense.
No matter how many superstars Bud Foster has to replace, he can be counted on to produce a top notch defense year after year.
And this year, with the likes of Jason Worilds, possibly one of the most talented Hokies ever, the Hokies are primed to continue this "lunchpail" tradition.
Is Tyrod the best quarterback in the ACC? Probably not.
Does he put up flashy passing yards and sport a big time QB rating? Nope.
Is he the most exciting quarterback in the ACC, capable of turning any play upside down? Absolutely.
And this year, the offense is all his. With receivers Dyrell Roberts, Jarrett Boykin and Danny Coale all a year older and wiser, look for his passing game to pick up a great deal.
Running Backs, Running Backs, Running Backs
Last year, the Hokies finally returned with a star running back in Darren Evans.
Evans set a Hokie single-season record for rushing yards by a freshman, broke the record previously held by Mike Imoh for rushing yards in a game, and was named MVP of the Orange Bowl.
And he will just be a sophomore. That news alone should be enough to make Hokies jump for joy, but there's more.
The Hokies managed to snag highly-prized recruit Ryan Williams and David Wilson, who led Team USA to victory in the Jr. World Championship with unbelievable numbers.
This should be a good year for VT to make a return to the power running game they have had such success with in the past.
An Improved Offense
The Hokies return all of their wide receivers, who were beginning to show great promise toward the end of last season.
They will also begin the year having been able to practice all summer with Tyrod Taylor behind center instead of dealing with two separate quarterbacks.
The Hokies also return much of their offensive line. They have found a rising star in guard Sergio Render, who is making some preseason noise and has been ranked as one of the top offensive players in the ACC.
The Hokies also continue to show promise at tight end with Greg Boone, a converted quarterback who has made a successful transition.
An Attractive Schedule
For the first time in quite a while, there will be no "cupcake games" on the Hokies' schedule.
Virginia Tech has no games with football subdivision (formerly known as Division 1-A) teams, a fact that Alabama, Florida, Texas, Oklahoma, Penn State, and nearly every other ACC school cannot boast of.
The Hokies play out-of-conference games with Alabama, Marshall, Nebraska, and East Carolina, none of which will be pushovers.
They also must play North Carolina and Georiga Tech, two ACC schools that are rumored to be competitive this year.
This year, if the Hokies end up in a BCS bowl, they will have come by it by playing perhaps the most difficult schedule of any other NCAA team.
However, There Are a Few Potential Stumbling Blocks. First up, Tyrod Taylor
For all of Taylor's potential, there are some cold hard facts to consider.
Despite rushing for over 700 yards and seven touchdowns last year, he passed only for two, both of which came late in the season. He also had an absolutely horrendous game against Duke, where he committed 5 turnovers in the first half and was replaced by Sean Glennon.
Taylor is an incredible talent with amazing potential but must pick up the passing game in order to truly make this a special season for the Hokies.
Much malinged offensive coordinator Bryan Stinespring has done little to improve his reputation over the last several years.
The Hokies have ranked 99th, 100th, and 103rd in total offense the last three years. The defense on the other hand, has ranked 1st, 4th, and 7th.
The Hokies have been quite successful in conference play despite the lack of a cohesive offense, but 103rd ranked offenses don't win national championships.
A Punishing Sschedule
Just as a difficult schedule will shine favorably on the Hokies for BCS contention, it can also have a reverse effect as well.
Even though the Hokies could potentially lose all of the difficult out-of-conference games and STILL contend for the ACC championship and a potential BCS berth, a National Championship team cannot have more than a loss (or two at the outside, if it's a crazy season like 2007).
Plus, snicker if you wish, but the ACC is becoming more competitive, and it will continue to be difficult to grind out win after win, especially with every team gunning to take down the perceived big dog.
So How Will It All Play Out?
Honestly, it could probably go either way. The Hokies look to be tremendously talented and much improved over last year's team.
But, right now, it's all on paper. The answers won't come until they take the field against Alabama in the opener.
It will be interesting to see how it all plays out.