Virginia Tech Football: 5 Worst-Case Scenarios for 2011
What can go wrong, usually does.
If you are a paranoid fan like me, you constantly worry and live by the above statement. It always seems.
For the first two weeks of 2010, it certainly felt like that for Virginia Tech football. After losing a close game to Boise State that likely took them out of the National Title picture, they fell to FCS opposition James Madison just six days later.
From being preseason number 10 in the nation to 0-2 and the laughing stock of the nation. In six days.
That's the humbling world of sports. Of course, we all know the Hokies awoke from their early-season slumber to reel off 11 straight wins before being embarrassed by Stanford in the Orange Bowl.
Heading into this season, there are plenty of things that could go wrong for Virginia Tech. An unproven quarterback, an all-of-a-sudden average defense, and a few dangerous opponents in the conference all threaten to take Virginia Tech's place at the top of the ACC.
Of course, I do not believe any of these are going to happen because Frank Beamer and Bud Foster are geniuses at what they do and have kept the Hokies at the top of the mountain for more than 10 years now.
However, hypothetically speaking, here are five worst case scenarios for the Virginia Tech Hokies heading into 2011.
Virginia Tech Will Lose to Appalachian State
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OK, you can probably file this one under "never going to happen", but we all know that would be a quite naive thing to do.
What if someone told you that Virginia Tech would lose to James Madison. You would probably have laughed in their face while obnoxiously waving an orange and maroon flag in the person's face. After all, the Hokies were favored by 31 points.
Of course a 21-16 loss to the Dukes plunged Virginia Tech out of the rankings and into temporary obscurity.
This season, Virginia Tech opens their campaign against the original 21st century giant killers: Appalachian State.
The Mountaineers would love to ruin Virginia Tech's season in the first game and become the first FCS school to win more than one game against more than one ranked FBS opponent. No sports fan will ever forget what they did to preseason top-five powerhouse Michigan in the opening week of the 2007 season.
The most likely scenario is that Frank Beamer will have his troops ready and most of the team will remember last year's painful loss and do the best they can to ensure it will not happen again. They may be a little jittery when the game kicks off, but once the second half rolls around they should be able to outclass the men from Boone, NC.
But anything is still possible.
Defensive Line Fails to Stay Healthy
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A lot of the defensive turnover occurred a year ago when Bud Foster had to replace virtually his entire defense.
The only spot that raises an issue going into 2011 along the defensive line, where the Hokies have a whole lot of question marks. Everyone knows the key to a great defense is the ability to generate a pass rush while being able to stuff the run when necessary.
The Hokies registered 35 sacks in 2010, good for 14th in the country. However their run defense was weak in spots, particularly in the losses to Boise State and Stanford.
James Gayle and Antoine Hopkins are the standouts of the group and they have to be leaders for the Hokies to get back to defensive dominance. However they lack depth behind the front four and any injuries would completely cripple the unit. Of course, you could say that about most units, but it's vitally important that the defensive line stays healthy and doesn't put an inexperienced back seven in too much trouble.
ACC Rivals Finally Reach Potential
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One of the main reasons why the Hokies have dominated the ACC since joining the conference has a lot to do with the decline of some of the other major programs.
Miami and Florida State have been reduced to laughing stocks since dominating college football in the 1990s, Georgia Tech and Boston College have not been able to turn their limited success into sustainability and Clemson and North Carolina field as talented a team in the conference only to see idiotic coaching doom their efforts (see: Davis, Butch and Bowden, Tommy).
Florida State is a darkhorse pick by many to reach a BCS game, whether it be through the conference title game or via the at-large route. Miami has a new coach and attitude that may see them rebound nicely if they can stay healthy.
If any of the above teams finally put it together and reach their potential, the Hokies may not have a cakewalk trip to Charlotte. However, if history has taught us anything, fans can book their trips early knowing their team will be playing.
Logan Thomas Is a Complete Flop in First Season as Starter
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Everything coming out of Blacksburg regarding Logan Thomas is positive. "He is way ahead of schedule." "His decision making and maturity is amazing." "He has a great grasp of the playbook." Every generic quote about Thomas is that he is ready to shoulder the load of the offense.
But is it true? Tyrod Taylor did so much for the Hokies that is presence is not completely replaceable. Of course, everyone is comparing Thomas to Cam Newton so I'm sure fans can expect a 14-0 season and a National Championship.
On the realistic side of things, Thomas has a lot to learn. He is only a sophomore and looked pretty confused in limited action a year ago. A lot of pressure is on him as well because gone is the running back tandem of Ryan Williams and Darren Evans.
If he flops this season, the Hokies could be on the outside of the ACC race looking in.
Run of Seven Straight 10 Win Seasons Will End in 2011
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It appears the Virginia Tech has a legitmate chance of going undefeated in 2011. Of course, there are a handful of programs that can say that, but given the talent this team has, combined with the ridiculously easy schedule in front of the Hokies this year it is a realistic possibility.
However, we are dealing with worst-case scenarios here, so let's take a look at what could happen.
All of this turnover in personnel over the last two years could really haunt the Hokies. The Tyrod Taylor era is over and with a new QB and a young, unproven defense coming back it's difficult to imagine they will be able to keep their focus for all 12 (hopefully 13) games and run the table.
If they stuggle at all this year, one of the most impressive streaks in college football will come to an end. Virginia Tech has won at least 10 games for the past seven seasons and has won four ACC titles in that span. They have been the most consistent program over that time period and fans have come to expect wins week in and week out.
However, this could be the vulnerable year in Blacksburg. There are a lot of questions with this team and a talented team in Tallahassee that is ready to become the champs of the conference. There is a strong chance the Hokies don't hit that magic 10 win mark and settle for a middle-of-the-pack conference finish.