The Virginia Tech Hokies have had a rough start to their conference play in the ACC this season. After rolling over out of conference, unranked mid-majors to kick the year off with a 4-0 record, the Hokies got dismantled by Clemson a week ago by a score of 23-3. Do not fear Hokie fans however, the Hokies can still win the ACC and even manage to get themselves into a BCS bowl game come January.
The Hokies have lost just one ACC game, and have seven conference games left on the schedule, all of which are very winnable games. The Hokies are by no means out of the running for the ACC or a shot at a BCS bowl game.
The Hokies can breathe easy after their loss to the Clemson Tigers last week, as they are not in the same ACC division as the Tigers and have yet to play any of their ACC Coastal Division opponents. The Hokies still have the opportunity to win their division and advance to the ACC championship game in December.
The only truly tough test remaining on the schedule for VaTech is a date with Coastal Division rivals, the Georgia Tech Yellow Jackets. Besides them, the Hokies have a fairly weak schedule to finish out the year.
With that, the Hokies are still favored to win their division and can get redemption on Clemson in December at the championship game.
In their first conference game against Clemson, the Hokies made several mistakes offensively largely due to the inexperience of first year starting quarterback Logan Thomas, and receivers running incorrect routes in the Hokies pro-style offense.
These somewhat self-inflicted mistakes have shown that turnover from season to season in college football is much more difficult than teams lead on. Simple miscommunication was the downfall of the Hokies offense against Clemson, and they can learn from their mistakes. Certain mishaps that occur once usually never occur again, or at least not so blatantly, after they cost a team a game.
College football players specialize in one aspect of the game, learning. The mistakes made by the VaTech offense were gone over in film and through practice and you can bet that coach Frank Beamer taught them to learn from their mistakes and improve from here on out. Learning from their mistakes will only increase the talent and success of the Hokies for the rest of the season.
One thing the Hokies have that rarely wavers is their defense. With the exception of the Clemson game, the Hokies defense has stuck to what they are known for in 2011, limiting offensive points. The Hokies allowed more than 16 points a game last season for the first time in five years last year, but have significantly improved that number through five games averaging just 12.6 points a game.
The Hokies defense allows their inexperienced quarterback a little more leeway as long as they can keep the ball out of their own end zone, and help win games. The defense has allowed just 249 yards total offense per game ranking them fourth in the nation, 15 sacks, 35 TFL, 8 interceptions, and 20 passes broken up. The Hokies defense is among the best in the nation, and is tops in the ACC for the most part, which should aid them greatly down the stretch and into the ACC Title game.
One of the most important aspects of college football is that of consistency. The VaTech Hokies have just that. Since entering the ACC in 2004, the Hokies are 77-22 overall with four ACC Championships to their name. Head coach Frank Beamer has built a fantastic program with VaTech over the past 25 seasons, and will continue to do so this season.
The Hokies may have a single loss to their name this season, but that does not rule them out of any chance of the ACC Championship. Based purely on consistency, the Hokies will win the ACC this year, and shouldn't have any issue doing so for the rest of the season. The Hokies have won the ACC three of the last four years and are poised to repeat as ACC champs in 2011.
They may not have displayed it last week, but the Hokies have the talent to beat Clemson for the ACC Championship in December. If the Hokies win the Coastal division, and Clemson (we assume will) reaches the Conference Title game, the Hokies will surely come in with more poise and confidence offensively than they did last week.
Quarterback Logan Thomas had a rough ride going 15/27 for no touchdowns and an interception, and miscommunication was a big issue, but expect Virginia Tech to be in better form come December. The Hokies dynamic defense will be up for the challenge more than anyone else and will avenge the 23 points they allowed Clemson to put up on them a week ago by dominating the line and taking balls away from Tajh Boyd and the Clemson offense.
In reality, the Hokies are a better team than the Tigers and should be able to walk away from the ACC with a Conference title and a berth in the 2012 Orange Bowl.