FanHouse's 2010 Preseason College Football Poll -- No. 11 Virginia Tech
Virginia Tech has major questions to answer on defense this season. The Hokies, also noted for their special teams, must break in a new punter and kicker as well. There's also that highly-anticipated opener against Boise State and a not-so-friendly ACC schedule.
Not to worry. Virginia Tech, under veteran coach Frank Beamer, has been a model of consistency with double-digit victories over six consecutive years.
For the third time in four years, the Hokies are the ACC media's pick to win the conference's football championship. Virginia Tech was media's overwhelming choice last season and in 2007. The Hokies won the title in '07 but finished second in the Coastal Division to eventual ACC champion Georgia Tech last year.
While Virginia Tech should be good enough to earn a BCS bid, will this be the year the Hokies challenge for the national title?
Critics might say that deeper, more talented, more experienced Virginia Tech teams have fallen short in that quest. Plus, the program's lofty expectations each season are usually fueled by Bud Foster's defense.
It's role-reversal time in Blacksburg, Va.
The offense has rarely been more loaded.
Quarterback Tyrod Taylor begins his second full season as the starter, and has played all four years. The Hokies return three starters on the line, feature plenty of skill on the edges -- Jarrett Boykin, Danny Coale and Dyrell Roberts combined for 92 receptions last season, and each of them averaged at least 17.7 yards per catch -- and running backs Ryan Williams and Darren Evans represent a powerful, talented one-two punch.
The offense will need to cover for the defense until the latter finds its footing.
THE BASICS: Tech went 10-3 last season, 6-2 in conference (2nd in ACC Coastal), beating Tennessee in the Chick-fil-A Bowl. The Hokies return 10 starters, but just three on defense. Beamer boasts what many believe is the best coaching staff in the ACC.
KEY PLAYER YOU PROBABLY DON'T THINK OF AS A KEY PLAYER: Evans set an ACC freshman rushing record with 1,265 yards two years ago. When Evans tore his anterior cruciate ligament last year, that opened the door for Williams to step in and break his record by rushing for 1,655 yards and 21 scores. How the two players handle their roles and work together this season will go a long, long way toward determining the unit's success.
FLY IN THE OINTMENT: Jason Worilds' decision to enter the NFL Draft after his junior season rocked Tech's world. Well, that might be an overstatement, but his departure certainly hurt. While the Hokies have seasoned replacements thanks to quality depth, they don't return a defensive end who had more than 3.5 sacks last season.
DON'T MISS: Sept. 6 vs. Boise State at FedEx Field in Landover, Md. The Hokies have lost early-season games to the eventual national champ in two of the past three seasons -- LSU in 2007 and Alabama in 2009. They need to avoid a third misstep to make it easier to remain in the national title equation, not to mention help strengthen the ACC's image nationally.
PREDICTED RECORD: 11-3
FanHouse's Virginia Tech team page with schedule
You can contact Jim at firstname.lastname@example.org or follow him on Twitter @JimHenryAOL