The Virginia Tech Hokies. When one thinks of the boys in Blacksburg, VA, the first thing that comes to mind is that they are going to be physical and punch you in the teeth from the start of the game.
The Hokies have been the hallmark of success in the ACC since coming over from the Big East, having won a total of four ACC championships, including their inaugural season in 2004. They have been the ACC's conference champion representative in the BCS four times, having gone 1-3 in those contests having lost to Kansas, Auburn and Stanford.
The last BCS game did not go very well for the Hokies, as they went into the Discover Orange Bowl and were steamrolled by the No.4 ranked Stanford Cardinal by a score of 40-12.
Led by Frank Beamer, the Hokies are a tough draw for anyone that comes to Lane Stadium as the home field advantage is immense and the home crowd makes the stadium one of the loudest places to play.
Some of the most high-profile NFL stars both past and present have worn Virginia Tech across their chest: Michael Vick, Brandon Flowers, Xavier Adibi, Vince Hall, and DeAngelo Hall.
Here are ten things that Beamer's boys do very well:
Former Hokies' RB Ryan Williams, drafted in 2011 NFL Draft by the Arizona Cardinals
One hallmark of Virginia Tech is a powerful running game. Former Hokies running back Ryan Williams was drafted in the 2011 NFL Draft by the Arizona Cardinals. Williams was the workhorse in the Hokies' backfield after taking over for fellow RB Darren Evans due to a season-ending ACL injury.
When your starting running back succumbs to injury and your backup has to step up, it usually means trouble. For Williams, it was his time to shine, and shine he did.
Williams impressed during his redshirt season of 2009, he had 293 carries for 1,655 yards and 22 touchdowns. He broke several ACC and Virginia Tech records including: the school's single season rushing yards record, the conference's single season touchdown record and rushing touchdown record.
A staple of Virginia Tech's offense is to control the pace of the game with runs between the tackles. Ryan Williams had no problem running between the tackles and I'm sure that much of that will continue in 2011.
The Special teams units of the Hokies are well known for taking every opportunity to make a big play off of a blocked kick or punt.
"BeamerBall" includes the special teams as it states that scoring touchdowns is a team effort and all three phases of the game (offense, defense and special teams) are expected to make a big play and score at every opportunity.
Every time an offense lines up to punt or kick a field goal, the offensive coordinator is always keeping extra men in to pick up a heavy blitz or a formation designed to block a kick.
Look in 2011 for the unit to have many more Saturdays full of highlight reel blocks or big plays that will most often than not decide games.
Defense. Defense. Defense. The common perception is that defense wins championships. Virginia Tech's defense is no slouch. Led by Bud Foster, Tech's defenses have always been in the top half annually in total defense.
In 1999, in the aftermath of Virginia Tech's loss to Florida State in the national championship game, Foster was named the Defensive Coordinator of the Year. His unit led the nation in scoring defense and ranked third in both rushing and total defense that year.
Defensively, the Hokies are aggressive, as they mask their looks and come from different directions to keep the opposing offense off-balance. This unit thrives on forcing mistakes and taking advantage of every opportunity to score off of turnovers.
Look for Virginia Tech to again be one of the ACC's best defenses and the unit be what carries them to yet another great season in 2011.
There are few coaches that you can attach the label "legendary" to. Michigan's Bo Schembechler, Miami's Jimmy Johnson, Florida State's Bobby Bowden, Penn State's Joe Paterno are few names that come to mind.
Frank Beamer should also come to mind. The man has paid his dues and he knows how to win.
The numbers surely do not lie.
In 24 years as the head coach of the Hokies, he has compiled a career record of 240-118-4 and he has 3 Big East championships and 4 ACC championships to back up his resume. The man has proven that he is a winner time and time again in Blacksburg.
Whenever he decides to call it quits, he will have earned his place among the greatest coaches to ever be a part of the game.
Coach Beamer and his staff will look to bounce back and regroup after the embarassing loss in the Orange Bowl last season.
The longtime defensive coordinator for the Hokies, Bud Foster is the man responsible for the success of the defense. He is a take-no prisoners coordinator who will bring almost any kind of blitz to keep the opposing quarterback guessing.
Foster was Beamer's defensive coordinator when he took over in 1987 and they have been pretty successful together. His defenses have always ranked near the top in the country since then.
Foster will be in a bit of a flux in 2011. He lost a few of his defensive assistants and he will have to continue to implement his system with a some new faces. Opposing offenses will still fear coming to Blacksburg to face Foster and his defensive nightmares on a yearly basis.
Since joining the ACC in 2004, the Hokies have dominated the conference.
Playing in the Coastal Division, which consists of Virginia Tech, Miami (FL), Georgia Tech, Virginia, Duke and North Carolina, the Hokies have won the division almost each and every year.
The Hokies' streak of four ACC championship games are no fluke. They have been the model of success as they have won the Coastal Division every year except 2007 when Georgia Tech won the division after a 7-1 mark in ACC play.
I expect a tighter race for the division championship this year, but you can never count out Virginia Tech vying for postseason contention.
Virginia Tech outlasted Florida State in the ACC championship game to advance as the conference's champion and automatic entrant to the Discover Orange Bowl.
The opponent waiting for them was the No.4 Stanford Cardinal. Stanford had not previously won a BCS bowl game in their history. Boy, they were sure ready to change that.
Led by quarterback and Orange Bowl MVP Andrew Luck, Stanford crushed Virginia Tech by a score of 40-12 in a game saw by many as one of the worst losses by Virginia Tech in postseason history.
Virginia Tech has had much success in the postseason and I doubt that they will let this loss linger for very long as they have historically played well after a loss.
When the Hokies' 2011 schedule was released, it had ceased a period of anticipation amongst fans and experts alike. Playing in the ACC is always something that has come easy for the Hokies.
But their non-conference schedule seems like a complete joke, and they could very well blowout each time that they face outside of the ACC.
With contests against Appalachian State (the team that famously upended Michigan in Ann Arbor), East Carolina, Arkansas State and Marshall it seems that the Hokies could very well be 4-0 by the time the ACC schedule starts.
With an easier schedule and tempered expectations, the Hokies could again be in the national spotlight in 2011-2012.
Lane Stadium, the home of the Hokies is one of the loudest venues in all of college football. Anyone on Virginia Tech's schedule is always aware of the date.
The student body is one of the most passionate fan bases in the country. They give the home team an advantage that is rarely seen. Opposing quarterbacks can barely hear their offensive coordinators when plays are being called, defenders have to pretty much scream and yell when they are in the huddle before the start of a play.
Homefield advantage is an immensely powerful edge to have in any football game. There is no shortage of passionate students and fans providing this to the team in Blacksburg, VA.
And lastly, the Virginia Tech Hokies are a team that is homegrown, with homegrown roots. They are in the middle of Blacksburg, Virginia, and they are a school and a family that sticks by their own.
In the midst of the tragic shooting in Norris Hall and other buildings that claimed several students and the gunman, Seung-Hui Cho, the school bonded together in the aftermath and came together proclaiming through one voice, "On this day, We are ALL Hokies, We are Virginia Tech."
The Virginia Tech Football team is like a family off the field. They are like a band of brothers on the field. I think in the coming season they will be as they always have been: Winners.