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2007 Virginia Tech Preview

CollegeFootballNews.com
Posted Jul 22, 2007


Football took a back seat, way back, to far more important issues at Virginia Tech after the horrific April tragedy. This season, more than ever before, the football team will be a positive rallying point for the school and community. With one of the nation's best defenses, led by LB Vince Hall, it has a serious chance to make plenty of national noise.

Virginia Tech Hokies

Preview 2007

By Michael Bradley & Pete Fiutak

- 2007 VT Offense Preview | 2007 VT Defense Preview
-
2007 VT Depth Chart | 2006 CFN Virginia Tech Preview 

They had their chances. Four or five of them could’ve left old Blacksburg for the NFL and its riches.

Xavier Adibi would have been a first-day pick. Branden Ore had potential to be taken in the top 100. Vince Hall. Eddie Royal. All of them could have declared and gone pro to make plenty of money. All of them leaving could have put the Hokies in a tough spot.

Head coach: Frank Beamer
21st year: 156-82-2
27th year: 198-105-4

Returning Lettermen:
Off. 19, Def. 21, ST 2
Lettermen Lost: 19
Ten Best VT Players
1. LB Vince Hall, Sr.
2. LB Xavier Adibi, Sr.
3. CB Brandon Flowers, Jr.
4. RB Branden Ore, Jr.
5. OT Duane Brown, Sr.
6. WR/KR Eddie Royal, Sr.
7. DE Chris Ellis, Sr.
8. DT Barry Booker, Sr.
9. CB VIctor "Macho" Harris, Jr.
10. FS D.J. Parker, Sr.

Virginia Tech
CFN Prediction:
10-2

Sept. 1

East Carolina

Sept. 8

at LSU

Sept. 15

Ohio

Sept. 22

William & Mary

Sept. 29

North Carolina

Oct. 6

at Clemson

Oct. 13

at Duke

Oct. 25

Boston College

Nov. 1

at Georgia Tech

Nov. 10

Florida State

Nov. 17

Miami

Nov. 24

at Virginia

2006 Schedule
CFN Prediction: 10-2

2006 Record:
10-3
Preview 2006 predicted wins

9/2 Northeastern W 38-0
9/9 at N Carolina W 35-10
9/16 Duke W 36-0
9/23 Cincinnati W 29-13
9/30 Georgia Tech L 38-27
10/12 at Boston Coll L 22-3
10/21 Southern Miss W 36-6
10/26 Clemson W 24-7
11/4 at Miami W 17-10
11/11 Kent State W 23-0
11/18 at Wake Forest W 27-6
11/25 Virginia W 17-0
12/30 Chick-fil-A Bowl
Geogia L 31-24

But Adibi, a quick and mean inside linebacker, Ore, a prolific running back who scored 16 times, Hall, the team’s leading tackler, and Royal, a dangerous wideout/return man, have all returned for at least another season. And that means VT has the chance to build on a ten-win season that featured a squandered opportunity against Georgia in the Peach Bowl, and a defensive effort that keyed a six-game winning streak to close the season. During that stretch, Tech allowed just 29 points.

Now, with 16 returning starters and scads of impressive reserves back in the fold, the Hokies should have the ACC’s best team, top defense and be a legitimate contender to play for the national title. As for the national scene, a Sept. 8 showdown at LSU will be an early indicator.

Though Tech remains a highly successful program, having won ten or more games five of the past seven years, it’s been a while since it’s been considered a threat for the national championship. Even a loss in Baton Rouge wouldn’t kill title hopes, considering one of the year’s biggest non-conference games comes early in the season, but the program has to focus on the bigger picture. Obviously, that involves far more than just football after the tragedy and horror the school has had to deal with.

Now Virginia Tech has to deal with all the attention of being a national story week-in-and-week-out for reasons other than just being a great football team. There’s a new kind of pressure the program will have to deal with, and that’s dealing with being the distraction and rallying point for a community desperate for something positive.

On the field, the offense has to be consistent in ACC play -- it can’t suffer its annual bizarre in-game, nationally televised meltdown -- and has to play up to its capabilities. It’s ACC title or bust, with an eye on even bigger and better dreams. And bigger and better responsibilities.


What to look for on offense:
A big dose of Ore. He averaged 20 carries a game last year, and it wouldn’t be surprising to see that number swell several times throughout the year. That would help a Tech ground game that was erratic at best last year, mostly when Ore was banged up, and should help take the pressure off QBs Sean Glennon and Ike Whitaker. Whoever’s throwing (it'll be Glennon to start) gets back the top eight targets from last year, including Royal, David Clowney and Josh Morgan.

What to look for on defense:
Tech was amazing last year, allowing just 219.5 yards of total offense and 11 points a game, both best in the nation. With eight starters back, including Adibi, Hill, tackle Barry Booker and corner Brandon Flowers, the Hokies again will be stifling, and capable of making the offense’s job much easier. The overall formula will be the same, using the front seven to swarm to the ball and into the backfield, while hoping the secondary can use its speed to keep the big plays to a minimum.

The team will be far better if … an offense which ranked 99th in the nation last year becomes more efficient, more balanced and more consistent. The Hokies don’t have to be Hawaii, but they can’t rely entirely on the defense. Glennon or Whitaker must get the ball downfield more often, and the ground game must produce more than 3.2 yards per carry.

The Schedule: The first half of the year should be a walk in the park with the exception of that trip to LSU that'll be Tech's chance to make a national championship statement. Another visit to Death Valley, Clemson's version, will be the chance to make an ACC championship statement. After the layup at Duke it gets rough, playing Boston College, at Georgia Tech, Florida State and Miami before finishing up at Virginia. 

Best Offensive Player: Junior RB Branden Ore.  Ore arrived in a big way last fall, parlaying a physical, no-nonsense running style into a 1,000-yard season with 16 touchdowns and a spot on the all-ACC first team.  An old-school Hokie with a habit of moving the chains and wearing out defenses, the junior is also surprisingly valuable as a receiver on screens and swing passes.

Best Defensive Player: Senior LB Vince Hall.  Along with teammate Xavier Adibi, Hall helps give the Hokies the most physically imposing linebacking tandem in the nation.  Tech’s leading tackler for the last two seasons is a versatile predator who fills the gaps quickly in run defense, covers well and at 6-0, 245 pounds, and can blow up opposing linemen.     

Key player to a successful season: Junior QB Sean Glennon or sophomore Ike Whitaker. Glennon appears to have the job after spring ball, but if he struggles, things could quickly change. The statistics say Glennon completed 56.3% of his throws, but he matched his 11 touchdowns with 11 picks and never threw the ball downfield with any regularity. Granted, it was his first year under center, but he wasn’t a dynamic weapon by season’s end, although he had improved. Whitaker might turn out to be the better option, with far more ability and immeasurably more mobility.

The season will be a success if ... the Hokies win the ACC title. That early date at LSU might be too much to overcome to play in the national championship game. The defense should be among the best in America, if not number one overall, and the offense should be a bit more consistent, no matter what the quarterback play is like. It’s time to win the conference and be off to the BCS. The team is too good for anything less.

Key game: Nov. 1 at Georgia Tech. There are several big ACC showdowns, including road trips to Clemson and Virginia, but with Boston College, Florida State and Miami all coming to Blacksburg, a win at Georgia Tech might be the one game that stands between the Hokies and the Coastal Division title.

2006 Fun Stats: 
- Interception return average: Virginia Tech 17.9 yards; Opponents 4.6 yards
- Second quarter scoring: Virginia Tech 89; Opponents 23
- Yards per carry: Virginia 3.2; Opponents 2.8

  


Related Stories
2007 Virginia Tech Preview - Offense
 -by CollegeFootballNews.com  Jun 3, 2007
2007 Virginia Tech Preview - Defense
 -by CollegeFootballNews.com  Jun 3, 2007
2007 Virginia Tech Preview - Depth Chart
 -by CollegeFootballNews.com  Jun 3, 2007








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