No matter what the situation is in Blacksburg, having Frank Beamer on the sideline makes things a little bit better.
Following a 7-6 record last season, things may be just as tough for Beamer and his Hokies as he tries to coach his team back toward the top of the ACC food chain.
This year will be a little more difficult with a less than stellar running game and two new college programs entering the conference.
But it’s Beamer, a coach who has endured over the years and is considered one of the better teachers in college football and one of the best coaches in the ACC.
Can the Hokies improve on the team’s record and improve the offense; they could be an upper echelon ACC team. But don’t be making any New Year’s Day bowl trips just yet. This is a program that has a lot of work to do.
Here are a few things you should know about Virginia Tech this season.
1. The quarterback can run, too
Logan Thomas was 220-of-429 for 2,976 yards, and 18 TDs last season. He is also the team’s leading returning rusher with 174 attempts for 524 yards and 9 TDs. Virginia Tech must find another horse to run in the backfield.
2. Nothing ever changes
The football expectations haven’t changed in Blacksburg, so the onus will be on the coaching staff, featuring several new faces on the offensive side. Beamer may have to do the best coaching job of his career.
3. The schedule is kind
The Hokies will not have to face FSU or Clemson this season. Both are expected to be the leaders to win the conference this season. A major divot was avoided when the Noles and Tigers were left off the schedule.
4. Returning Starters: Offense: 4, Defense: 9
That means a defense that will be better and more improved and an offense that needs to gel quickly to be effective in ACC action.
5. Redshirt players on the radar
WR Joel Caleb, LB Deon Clarke, DE Ken Ekanem, RB Trey Edmunds, WR Joshua Stanford, CB Der’Woun Greene, RB Chris Mangus, WR Mark Irick. Most are skilled players, which is something this team is lacking from two season’s ago.
6. Freshman watch
CB Brandon Facyson, QB Carlis Parker, OT Jonathan McLaughlin, and OT Parker Osterloh could all play a part in this season’s success. If not this season, then certainly next year.
Two seasons ago, this was a marquee matchup. Now, the Tide must be licking its chops at this one. The game is being played in Atlanta, supposedly a neutral sight. That won’t help the Hokies. Roll Tide in a big way.
8. Quick out of the gate
Following Alabama, the team plays Western Carolina, Eastern Carolina and Marshall. The Hokies could be 3-1 headed into conference play when they start at Georgia Tech on a Thursday, Sept. 26.
9. Lack of playmakers
Thomas returns and appears to be the only true offensive threat. Hopefully the incoming redshirts will provide speed and quickness and ability to the offense.
10. Help needed at linebacker
Tyler, an All-ACC linebacker and the conference’s leading returning tackler, is back to man his starting linebacker spot. With Bruce Taylor, who led the team with 5.5 sacks, and Jeron Gouveia-Winslow both gone, the need for solid tacklers and run stuffers is huge to the success of this defense.