2007 Virginia Tech Hokies

Posted Dec 31, 2007

2007 Virginia Tech Hokies Season, Game Recaps, Scores and Reviews

Virginia Tech Hokies

Recap: On and away from the field, Virginia Tech endured a rollercoaster ride that began with an emotional tribute to the victims of the April 16 campus massacre and ended with a second ACC crown in four years.  Using a familiar formula of great defense and special teams, the Hokies battled back from a lopsided Week 2 loss to LSU to go 10-1 before getting dumped by Kansas in the Orange Bowl.  It took awhile for the offense, particularly the line, to mesh, but when freshman QB Tyrod Taylor began doing his Michael Vick impression on the field, Tech became much tougher to defend on the boundaries.    

Offensive Player of the Year: RB Branden Ore

Defensive Player of the Year: LB Xavier Adibi

Biggest Surprise: QB Sean Glennon.  Although he may never be the next coming of Jim Druckenmiller in Blacksburg, Glennon developed into a steady game manager in the second half of the season.  For a stretch of eight games from Sept. 15 to Nov. 24, he rarely misfired, connecting on the intermediate routes and going well over 100 straight passes without an interception.    

Biggest Disappointment: Losing to Kansas in the Orange Bowl.  Tech entered the game as one of country's hottest teams, but suffered a fifth loss in its last seven bowl games, throwing three crucial interceptions that led to 17 Jayhawk points.           

Looking Ahead: Although reinforcements will be needed on defense, at Virginia Tech, rebuilding is not in the lexicon.  Will a two-quarterback system be used again in 2008, or will Taylor or Glennon earn the majority of the snaps?  Stay tuned in the spring.

- 2007 VTech Preview
2006 VTech Season

2007 Schedule
CFN Prediction: 10-2
2007 Schedule: 1

Sept. 1 East Carolina W 17-7
Sept. 8 at LSU L 48-7
Sept. 15
Ohio W 28-7
Sept. 22 William & Mary W 44-3
Sept. 29 North Carolina W 17-10
Oct. 6 at Clemson W 41-23
Oct. 13 at Duke W 43-14
Oct. 25 Boston College L 14-10
Nov. 1 at Georgia Tech W 27-3
Nov. 10
Florida State W 40-21
Nov. 17 Miami W 44-14
Nov. 24 at Virginia W 33-21
ACC Championship
Dec. 1 Boston College W 30-16
Orange Bowl
Jan. 3 Kansas L 24-21

Jan. 3
2008 Orange Bowl

Kansas 24 ... Virginia Tech 21
In a strange game, Kansas started off the scoring with a 60-yard interception return for a score from Aqib Talib, and held a 17-0 first half lead after Marcus Henry caught a 13-yard touchdown pass. And then Virginia Tech found a groove, going 68 yards in 13 plays at the end of the half by running Branden Ore, who scored with a one-yard touchdown run. The Hokies got rolling in the second half on an 84-yard punt return for a score from Justin Harper on a reverse, but a blocked field goal and an interception gave the Kansas all the momentum as Todd Reesing scored on a two-yard run early in the fourth for the winning touchdown. Tech came up with a 15-play, 78-yard drive with a 20-yard touchdown grab from Harper, but KU recovered the onside kick and ran out the clock.
Offensive Player of the Game: Virginia Tech RB Branden Ore ran 23 times for 116 yards and a touchdown
Defensive Player of the Game: Kansas P Kyle Tucker punted five times for 250 yards, averaging 50 yards per kick, putting three inside the 20
Stat Leaders: Virginia Tech - Passing: Sean Glennon, 13-28, 160 yds, 1 TD, 2 INT
Rushing: Branden Ore, 23-116, 1 TD. Receiving: Justin Harper, 4-64, 1 TD
Kansas - Passing: Todd Reesing, 20-37, 227 yds, 1 TD, 1 INT
Brandon McAnderson, 15-75. Receiving:
Dexton Fields, 7-101
Thoughts & Notes ... 5 Thoughts on the Orange Bowl ... Orange Bowl Stream of Consciousness Quarter By Quarter Game Notes ... Virginia Tech survived several bad breaks and great Kansas field position by fighting back into the game, but down three, it lost all the momentum by not going for it on a key fourth and short deep in Jayhawk territory in the third quarter, got the field goal attempt blocked, and it was all KU the rest of the way. ... Kansas not only matched the Virginia Tech pass rush, it bettered it five sacks to four. Give a little credit to the mobility of KU QB Todd Reesing, but also credit the Jayhawk defense that showed up with an attitude. ... While Tech came up with some big special teams plays, including a touchdown on a punt return, it lost the battle. KU got the key blocked field goal, got a first down off a fake punt, and got a whale of a game from punter Kyle Tucker, who pinned the Hokies deep time and again. The Hokies didn't connect on their two field goal attempts, and that was the difference.

Dec. 1
ACC Championship

Virginia Tech 30 ... Boston College 16
Tied at 16 midway through the fourth quarter, Eddie Royal caught a 24-yard touchdown pass to give the Hokies the lead for good. The Tech defense held on with an interception on fourth down deep in its own territory, and a 40-yard interception return for a score from Xavier Adibi with 11 seconds to play. In a strange first half, BC got on the board first as Jamie Silva snatched the ball and took it for a 51-yard score. A Matt Ryan 14-yard touchdown run gave the Eagles a second quarter lead, but the extra point was blocked and returned for a two-point conversion to spark a run of 23 unanswered points. Sean Glennon threw three touchdowns passes to three different receivers.
Player of the game: Virginia Tech QB Sean Glennon completed 18 of 27 passes for 174 yards and three touchdowns with an interception.
Stat Leaders: Virginia Tech - Passing: Sean Glennon, 18-27, 174 yds, 3 TD, 1 INT
Rushing: Branden Ore, 19-55. Receiving: Josh Morgan, 8-55, 1 TD
Boston College - Passing: Matt Ryan, 33-52, 305 yds, 2 INT
Andre Callender, 15-51. Receiving: Andre Callender, 13-92

Whoopty doo. What does it all mean, Basil? ... Much will be made about the Hokie defense and special teams, but once again, the offense stepped up and was the story. Sean Glennon only threw one interception against Boston College and did a great job of spreading the ball around and limiting his mistakes. Of course, the defense did its part, and even though BC got its yards, it didn't get on the board over the last 2.5 quarters and rarely seemed able to find any sort of a rhythm after the first few drives. Now it's on to the Orange Bowl to cap off a great season. The school needed a positive year, and the football team more than came through.

Nov. 24
Virginia Tech 33 ... Virginia 21
Virginia Tech got up early on a nine-yard touchdown run from Tyrod Taylor and a 20-yard Jud Dunleavy field goal, but Virginia took the lead on a 27-yard Mikell Simpson run and an eight-yard dash by Jameel Sewell. Eddie Royal, who caught six passes from 147 yards, gave the Hokies the lead for good with a 39-yard touchdown catch. The Cavaliers just only managed a two-yard Sewell scoring run in the second half while Tech got two of Dunlevy's four field goals and a five-yard Taylor run to stay ahead. Each team came up with six sacks.
Player of the game: Virginia Tech RB Branden Ore ran 31 times for 147 yards
Stat Leaders: Virginia - Passing: Jameel Sewell, 15-24, 121 yds, 1 INT
Rushing: Mikell Simpson, 16-81, 1 TD. Receiving: Mikell Simpson, 6-17
Virginia Tech - Passing: Sean Glennon, 13-19, 260 yds, 1 TD
Branden Ore, 31-147. Receiving: Eddie Royal, 6-147, 1 TD

Whoopty doo. What does it all mean, Basil? ... The offense is humming at just the right time. Tech won the Coastal Division title by cranking up the defense a few notches, but it was the offense that made the four week run to the rematch with Boston College relatively easy. The dual quarterback system appears to be working perfectly as Sean Glennon is throwing efficiently and effectively, while Tyrod Taylor doesn't have to carry the entire team on his shoulders. The confidence has to be sky-high going against the Eagles, and if the offense continues to be balanced and productive, it'll be hard to keep this team out of the BCS.

Nov. 17
Virginia Tech 44 ... Miami 14
Virginia Tech blew open a tight game with 24 unanswered points with short touchdown runs from Branden Ore, Carlton Weatherford and Jahre Cheeseman in a dominant performance to set up a game against Virginia for the Coastal title. Miami got a four-yard touchdown run from Kyle Wright and a one-yard pass to Leonard Hankerson, but finished with a mere -2 rushing yards and 213 yards of total offense. Virginia Tech took a 17-0 lead helped by a 15-yard Justin Harper touchdown catch and the first of Ore's two runs.
Player of the game: Virginia Tech LB Vince Hall made 13 tackles
Stat Leaders: Miami - Passing: Kyle Wright, 21-36, 215 yds, 1 TD, 1 INT
Rushing: Javarris James, 10-7. Receiving: Sam Shields, 6-81
Virginia Tech - Passing: Sean Glennon, 13-24, 171, 1 TD
Branden Ore, 15-81, 2 TD. Receiving: Josh Hyman, 3-60

Whoopty doo. What does it all mean, Basil? ... Suffocating doesn't begin to describe the Virginia Tech defense against the Miami running game. The Canes couldn't get anything going, and eventually had to just give up trying to run, and that allowed the Hokie defense to tee off. The team is in a perfect lather for the critical showdown with Virginia for the division title and a chance to play Boston College for the ACC championship. The combination of Sean Glennon and Tyrod Taylor worked well enough even though neither had a great game. The running game was creative enough to pick up the slack.

Nov. 10
Virginia Tech 40 ... Florida State 21
Virginia Tech was down one going into the fourth quarter thanks to a an FSU run sparked by a 40-yard Dekoda Watson interception return for a score and an eight-yard DeCody Fagg catch, and then came 20 unanswered points. Tyrod Taylor ran for a three-yard score and Chris Ellis picked off a pass for a five-yard touchdown. Taylor threw two first half touchdown passes and Branden Ore ran for a two-yard score on the way to a 20-yard Hokie lead before the Noles made their midgame run.
Player of the game: Virginia Tech QB Tyrod Taylor completed ten of 15 passes for 204 yards and two touchdowns with an interception, and ran 17 times for 92 yards and a score
Stat Leaders: Florida State - Passing: Christian Ponder, 8-18, 105 yds, 1 TD, 2 INT
Rushing: Christian Ponder, 5-51. Receiving: DeCody Fagg, 4-63, 1 TD
Virginia Tech - Passing: Tyrod Taylor, 10-15, 204 yds, 2 TD, 1 INT
Tyrod Taylor, 17-92, 1 TD. Receiving:
Justin Harper, 5-167, 1 TD
Whoopty doo. What does it all mean, Basil? ... Now that's the Tyrod Taylor everyone was waiting for. The super-recruit showed a bit more patience and more passing ability after coming off his ankle injury, while tearing off some nice runs on the way to a 92-yard day. The defense didn't have its best day, but it forced three turnovers and dripped the hammer in the fourth quarter when the momentum turned. Now it's a two-game run to the ACC title, getting a dead-in-the-water Miami team in the home finale before the showdown at Virginia.

Nov. 1
Virginia Tech 27 ... Georgia Tech 3
Virginia Tech's Sean Glennon overcame the loss of his jersey, wearing a modified Georgia Tech jersey, to throw a 40-yard touchdown pass to Justin Harper and a 71-yard pass to Josh Morgan. The day belonged to the Hokie defense that forced six turnovers, including five interceptions, and held the Yellow Jacket offense to 271 yards and a 24-yard Travis Bell field goal. Georgia Tech had one big chance to get back in the game, but a trick play just missed on a sure touchdown pass just out of reach for WR James Johnson.
Player of the game: Virginia Tech QB Sean Glennon completed 22 of 32 passes for 296 yards and two touchdowns
Stat Leaders: Georgia Tech - Passing: Taylor Bennett, 11-26, 157 yds, 4 INT
Rushing: Jonathan Dwyer, 10-68. Receiving: James Johnson, 7-136
Virginia Tech - Passing: Sean Glennon, 22-32, 296 yds, 2 TD
Branden Ore, 19-86. Receiving: Josh Morgan, 6-103, 1 TD

Whoopty doo. What does it all mean, Basil? ... Talk about bouncing back from a rough loss, the defense was all over Georgia Tech QB Taylor Bennett, forcing him to make mistakes all game long. He's not Matt Ryan, and the Yellow Jackets never got a chance to breathe. Sean Glennon was nearly perfect, coming up with one of his sharpest, best games of his career. While Tyrod Taylor is still in the mix once his ankle is healthy, Glennon might be the calm, even-keel fit for the attack right now.

Oct. 25
Boston College 14 ... Virginia Tech 10
Shut down cold for roughly 55 minutes, Boston College and QB Matt Ryan woke up to pull off the improbable comeback thanks to a 24-yard touchdown pass to Andre Callender with 11 seconds to play. Down 10-0 and the ball on his own eight, Ryan took the Eagles 92 yards in just over two minutes, finishing up with a 16-yard scoring pass to Rich Gunnell. With 2:11 to play, BC went for the onside kick and got it as the ball bounced off a Hokie before the Eagles recovered. Ryan went 66 yards in seven plays for the game-winning score. Virginia Tech got a 44-yard Jud Dunleavy field goal and an eight-yard Eddie Royal touchdown catch for the lead, but only finished with 265 yards of total offense, while BC finished with 32 rushing yards.
Player of the game: Boston College QB Matt Ryan completed 25 of 52 passes for 285 yards and two touchdowns with two interceptions
Stat Leaders: Boston College - Passing: Matt Ryan, 25-52, 285 yds, 2 TD, 2 INT
Rushing: Andre Callender, 7-29. Receiving: Brandon Robinson, 5-86
Virginia Tech - Passing: Sean Glennon, 15-25, 149 yds, 1 TD
Branden Ore, 21-101. Receiving: Eddie Royal, 4-77, 1 TD

Whoopty doo. What does it all mean, Basil? ... Sometimes you just lose to a superior player. Virginia Tech did a phenomenal job of making BC QB Matt Ryan look awful for almost the entire game, and then the defensive line got gassed, couldn't finish its pass rush, despite doing a good job of getting into the backfield, and got a horrible break when it couldn't get the onside kick. The offense wasn't great, but it was good enough. There didn't need to be any big chances taken with the way the defense was playing. Everything worked according to plan, and then Ryan had other ideas. There's no need to worry about the loss too much. Tech still wins the ACC title if it wins its next five games.

Oct. 13
Virginia Tech 43 ... Duke 14
Virginia Tech's much-maligned offense cranked out 441 yards getting help from an unlikely source, as Sean Glennon stepped in for an injured Tyrod Taylor  and threw for 268 yards with a 25-yard touchdown pass to Eddie Royal in the second quarter and a 40-yarder to Josh Morgan at the end of the third. Kenny Lewis and Branden Ore each added short scoring runs, and Jud Dunleavy hit three field goals on the way to a 43-7 lead after three quarters. Duke's scores came on a one-yard Thaddeus Lewis run and a 19-yard pass to Brandon King.
Player of the game: Virginia Tech QB Sean Glennon completed 16 of 21 passes for 258 yards and two touchdowns.
Stat Leaders: Duke - Passing: Thaddeus Lewis, 13-24, 119 yds, 1 TD, 1 INT
Rushing: Re'quan Boyette, 8-42. Receiving: Eron Riley, 3-37
Virginia Tech - Passing: Sean Glennon, 16-21, 258 yds, 2 TD
Branden Ore, 17-37, 1 TD. Receiving: Eddie Royal, 6-90, 1 TD
Whoopty doo. What does it all mean, Basil? ... Ahhhhh, Duke. Nothing like playing the Blue Devils to jumpstart the offense, but it all came from the passing game as Tech only gained 99 yards on the ground. Sean Glennon came in and was cool and mistake-free, making the throws that were there and not forcing anything. He didn't have to. The Duke offense wasn't any threat to the Hokie D that came up with five sacks. The one big problem was the overall play of the offensive line; Duke won more than its share of battles. The play from the front five has to be much better against Boston College in two weeks.

Oct. 6
Virginia Tech 41 ... Clemson 23
Virginia Tech got out to a 31-5 halftime lead by scoring just about every way possible. D.J. Parker took an interception 32 yards for a score 1:10 into the game, Eddie Royal returned a punt 82 yards for a touchdown, and following a Mark Buchholz 33-yard field goal to get Clemson on the board, Macho Harris returned a kickoff 100 yards for a touchdown. The Tigers mounted a comeback, with Cullen Harper hitting Tyler Grisham for a three-yard score, and Aaron Kelly for an 18-yard touchdown, but a Branden Ore two-yard touchdown run in the final minute made the final score more impressive.
Player of the game: Virginia Tech LBs Vince Hall and Xavier Adibi combined to make 21 tackles and three tackles for loss
Stat Leaders: Clemson - Passing: Cullen Harper, 38-66, 372 yds, 2 TD, 2 INT
Rushing: James Davis, 6-9. Receiving: Aaron Kelly, 11-175, 1 TD
Virginia Tech - Passing: Tyrod Taylor, 7-14, 65 yds, 1 TD
Tyrod Taylor, 15-118, 1 TD. Receiving: Justin Harper, 3-33, 1 TD
Whoopty doo. What does it all mean, Basil? ... Much will be made about Beamer Ball, and the way the Hokies beat Clemson, but it was the defense, specifically the play of the linebackers, shutting down the vaunted Clemson running game, that was the most impressive aspect of the win. Not to be glossed over was yet another lousy day from the offense. It didn't need to do much, considering all the scoring from the special teams and defense, but 219 yards is still 219 yards. However, Tyrod Taylor started to show off what he can do with his legs, cranking out 118 rushing yards.

Sept. 29
Virginia Tech 17 ... North Carolina 10
It wasn't pretty, but Virginia Tech pulled off the win with short touchdown runs from Tyrod Taylor and Branden Ore, and got stingy defense throughout. The Tar Heels only managed a 32-yard Connor Barth field goal in the first 54 minutes, and then made things interesting with a one-yard scoring run from Anthony Elzy. They got into Hokie territory on a final drive, but a sack and a false start penalty killed the comeback attempt. UNC outgained Tech 306 yards to 241. The two teams combined for ten sacks.
Player of the game: Virginia Tech LB Cam Martin had 10 tackles and three sacks.
Stat Leaders: North Carolina - Passing: T.J. Yates, 16-25, 182 yds, 1 INT
Rushing: Anthony Elzy, 11-74, 1 TD. Receiving: Hakeem Nicks, 8-94
Virginia Tech - Passing: Tyrod Taylor, 10-19, 66 yds, 1 INT
Branden Ore, 19-93, 1 TD. Receiving: Eddie Royal, 4-14
Whoopty doo. What does it all mean, Basil? ... When you have a top-shelf defense, everything else seems to fall into place. The offense is playing too poorly, with Tyrod Taylor continuing to struggle with his downfield passing, and Branden Ore getting keyed on game in and game out. There's no excuse for only coming up with 241 yards of total offense against North Carolina, and there will need to be far more from the attack to win at Clemson next week.

Sept. 22
Virginia Tech 44 ... William & Mary 3
Virginia Tech rolled out a 27-point first quarter on two Jud Dunleavy field goals, short runs from Branden Ore and Kenny Lewis, and a 49-yard interception return for a touchdown from Brandon Flowers. Just to add to the early blowout, Eddie Roay took a punt 60 yards for an early third quarter touchdown, and Ore scored on a 34-yard pass play. Tech outgained William & Mary 133 yards to five, allowing just a 22-yard Brian Pate field goal.
Player of the game: Virginia Tech LB Purnell Sturdivant made eight tackles, two sacks and two interceptions.
Stat Leaders: William & Mary - Passing: Jacob Phillips, 17-40, 243 yds, 3 INTs
Rushing: Thomas Schonder, 9-42. Receiving: Drew Atchison, 5-81
Virginia Tech - Passing: Tyrod Taylor, 6-13, 72 yds, 1 TD
Tyrod Taylor, 5-52. Receiving: Branden Ore, 4-48, 1 TD
Whoopty doo. What does it all mean, Basil? ... Fine, so the Hokies didn't really need to try against William & Mary, and the foot was quickly taken off the gas after the defense and special teams dominated, but 287 yards of total offense and just 12 first downs has to be a bit concerning. Again, the outcome was never in doubt, but it would've been nice if the running game, kept on rolling with the backups, it would've been nice if Tyrod Taylor was a bit better throwing the ball, and it really would've been nice if there weren't so many penalties, committing 11 for 95 yards.

Sept. 15
Virginia Tech 28 ... Ohio 7
Virginia Tech's defense dominated, allowing just five first downs and 114 yards of total offense, but the Bobcats were ahead 7-0 in the second quarter on a four-yard Kalvin McRae touchdown run. That was the only fun Ohio would have all game, as Tech reeled off 28 unanswered points on touchdown runs from Kenny Lewis, Tyrod Taylor and Branden Ore, and then Kenny Lewis put it well out of reach on a 44-yard  scoring run. Ohio converted just three of 17  third down chances.
Player of the game: Virginia Tech LB Vince Hall had 14 tackles, three tackles for loss and a pair of sacks..
Stat Leaders: Ohio - Passing: Brad Bower, 9-16, 70 yds
Rushing: Kalvin McRae, 22-55, 1 TD. Receiving: Kalvin McRae, 6-26
Virginia Tech - Passing: Tyrod Taylor, 18-31, 287 yds
Branden Ore, 18-82, 1 TD. Receiving: Josh Morgan, 6-119
Whoopty doo. What does it all mean, Basil? ... Now that's the Hokie defense everyone's been waiting for. Vince Hall and the D were swarming all over Ohio all game long, and outside of a second quarter touchdown, never let up and made the game more of a blowout than it looks on paper. Tyrod Taylor was fine in his debut, and while he failed to make too many big plays, outside of a 59-yard pass play to Josh Morgan for a touchdown, he didn't make many mistakes. This was a good first step, and now it's important to keep working on the passing game against William & Mary.

Sept. 8
LSU 48 ... Virginia Tech 7
Tyrod Taylor ran for a one-yard score late in the third quarter for the Hokies. That would be in for fun moments for Tech, as LSU stomped, ran over, and dominated its way to a shockingly easy win. The Tigers got out 27-0 helped by a 67-yard Keiland Williams touchdown run and short scores from Jacob Hester and Matt Flynn. Williams added a 32-yard run in the fourth quarter and Ryan Perrilloux threw two garbage time touchdown passes. The Tigers outgained the Hokies 598 yards to 149.
Player of the game: LSU RB Keiland Williams ran seven times for 126 yards and two touchdowns and caught two passes for ten yards
Stat Leaders: Virginia Tech - Passing: Tyrod Taylor, 7-18, 62 yds
Rushing: Tyrod Taylor, 9-44, 1 TD. Receiving: Josh Morgan, 4-20
LSU - Passing: Matt Flynn, 17-27, 217 yds
Keiland Williams, 7-126, 2 TD. Receiving: Brandon LaFell, 7-125
Whoopty doo. What does it all mean, Basil? ...
The Hokies have to have a short memory. Whether it was 8-7 or 48-7, the loss to LSU was going to sting. Confidence, especially in the offense, is going to be a problem after Sean Glennon was quickly replaced by Tyrod Taylor. While that might be a step back to eventually take a giant leap forward, that only works if the defense is playing well. A national title-caliber D doesn't allow close to 600 yards to anyone, but after facing Ohio, William & Mary and North Carolina in the next three weeks, there will be plenty of time for Taylor, if he turns into the starter, to jell.

Sept. 1
Virginia Tech 17 ... East Carolina 7
In one of the most emotionally charged games in college football history, Virginia Tech needed a while before finally putting East Carolina away. Victor Harris picked off a pass for a touchdown late in the first half for a 10-7 Hokie lead, and Sam Wheeler provided the breathing room with a 21-yard touchdown catch. East Carolina managed a two-yard Chris Johnson touchdown run in the first half for its only points.
Player of the game ... Virginia Tech TE Sam Wheeler caught seven passes for 81 yards and a touchdown.
Stat Leaders: East Carolina - Passing: Patrick Pinkney, 14-25, 115 yds
Rushing: Dominique Lindsay, 10-50 Receiving: Phillip Henry, 4-30
Virginia Tech - Passing: Sean Glennon, 22-33, 245 yds, 1 TD, 1 INT
Branden Ore, 23-70  Receiving: Sam Wheeler, 7-81, 1 TD

Whoopty doo. What does it all mean, Basil? ...
Did the emotional factor actually hurt the Hokies? With so much hype and so much surrounding the game, it was almost like the Hokies, especially on offense, played extremely tight. However, this wasn't the type of performance that'll inspire much in the way of confidence before having to face LSU's defense. Sean Glennon was shaky at best, and the offensive line had an awful game. There wasn't any room to run, and Glennon was under pressure far too often. Defensively, the stars came through as Xavier Adibi, Vince Hall and Brandon Flowers all played like All-Americans.

Sept. 1 - East Carolina
Offense: Skip Holtz likes to spread the field out and turn his quarterback loose, but with the battery of James Pinkney and Aundrae Allison gone, the Pirates will put more emphasis on the ground game.  That means extra carries this year for versatile senior Chris Johnson and his young understudies, Dominique Lindsay and Norman Whitley.  While strong-armed sophomore Rob Kass will replace Pinkney behind center, an adequate replacement for Allison will be much tougher to find.  Look for the quarterback to utilize a group of tight ends that has the potential to be as good as any in Conference USA.  For ECU to improve on last season's weak offensive output, the veteran line needs to give Kass an extra second or two in the pocket and create more daylight for the backs.        
Defense: If the Pirate defensive line doesn't outright dominate at times this season, heads will roll at the end of the year.  There's way too much talent and depth on this unit for it not to make a quantum leap from 2006.  Junior end Marcus Hands, in particular, has the size and quickness to be special after underachieving last fall.  Penetration up front figures to help a secondary that's easily the weak link of this defense.  Three starters, including both corners, need to be replaced from a group that was one of the underrated team strengths for the past two seasons.

Sept. 8 – at LSU
Offense: There's a little bit of nervousness among LSU fans with a major change underway in the offense under new coordinator Gary Crowton. There'll be more option, more quick timing patterns, and quicker reads on the line. Fortunately, the loss of JaMarcus Russell won't hurt as much as it would for almost any other program with Matt Flynn and Ryan Perrilloux returning to run the attack. The backfield is loaded with options led by star newcomer Keiland Williams working behind a great line with enough returning experience to dominate. The receiving corps won't be as productive without Dwayne Bowe and Craig Davis, but Early Doucet and Brandon LeFall will be a great 1-2 combination.
Defense: The nation's number three defense in each of the last two years might crank things up yet another notch with eight starters returning led by the nation's most impressive line. Tackle Glenn Dorsey and end Tyson Jackson might be top five draft picks next season, while Ali Highsmith leads a fantastic linebacking corps that'll only get better once the star prospect backups get more time. Chevis Jackson and Jonathan Zenon form a top lock-down corner tandem, while Craig Steltz and Curtis Taylor will be more than just fill-ins for safeties LaRon Landry and Jessie Daniels. With all the talent returning, expect more big plays, more turnovers, and more dominance against the average to bad teams.

Sept. 15 - Ohio
Offense: You know the fastball is coming, but can you hit it? Ohio will try to add more passing to the attack, but this is a running team that'll pound away with Kalvin McRae behind a good, though not as good as last year, offensive line. The attack has to be more versatile after being stuck in the mud against the good teams on the schedule, and that's where new starting quarterback Brad Bower comes in. He'll be looking to add more passing to the mix, but he doesn't have a great receiving corps to work with. The tight ends will get more involved this year to try to keep things moving.
Defense: The defense made a night-and-day improvement from 2005, and should be among the best in the MAC again if replacements can be found for the three star linebackers and All-MAC corner T.J. Wright. The defensive line is big and active, and it needs to be stronger against the run. Getting into the backfield won't be a problem with All-MAC end Jameson Hartke leading the way. The safeties will be fantastic leading a deep and talented group. It's all up to the linebackers, who have talent, but are relatively inexperienced and haven't stayed healthy. 

Sept. 22 – William & Mary

Sept. 29 - North Carolina
Offense: The offense only cranked out 293 yards and 18 points per game with fits of wild inconsistency. Expect a bit more of the same with a young team still trying to figure out who the starters are going to be, but the overall production should be better. Step one is to determine who the quarterback will be to handle the passing game that'll run three and four wide sets. T.J. Yates was the star of spring ball, but he'll have to hold off star freshman Mike Paulus. There are plenty of good, inexperienced running backs to work with, and Hakeem Nicks is a potential star number one receiver. However, there aren't any certainties in the depth chart quite yet. The line will be serviceable, but nothing special.
It might take a year to turn things around after a disastrous 2006, but the young talent is there to get really, really excited. The defensive line has a slew of great prospects to work with, while the back seven has athleticism and quickness by design with a smallish linebacking corps. The return of Trimaine Goddard at safety will be a big help for the secondary, while the hopeful emergence of more pass rushing help for end Hilee Taylor should help the coaching staff implement it's attacking, aggressive style.

Oct. 6 – at Clemson
Offense: Clemson had the ACC's best offense last season, but it didn't get nearly enough from the passing game. Expect more of the same. The 1-2 rushing punch of James Davis and C.J. Spiller is among the best in the country, and while the line loses four starters, there's enough experience and talent up front to pave the way for a big rushing year. The receiving corps has potential, but a quarterback has to emerge to consistently produce. Cullen Harper has the job to start the year, but superstar recruit Willy Korn will likely take over at the first opportunity. No matter who's under center, and despite all the bells, whistles and formations of the Rob Spence offense, it'll be all about the running game.
Defense: As long as the corners are fine, this will be one of the nation's best defenses. The line, even without Gaines Adams, will be amazing, thanks to the emergence of Ricky Sapp and a great rotation of tackles. Assuming Tramaine Billie (broken ankle) and Antonio Clay (family tragedy) are back, the linebacking corps will fly around and make plays all over the filed. The safety situation is one of the ACC's best with Chris Clemons, Michael Hamlin (broken foot and all) and DeAndre McDaniel all potential all-stars, and the corners should be decent, at worst.

Oct. 13 – at Duke
Offense: Eleven starters return to an offense that lived through the growing pains of a youth movement in an attempt to take a giant leap forward. New offensive coordinator Peter Vaas, who comes over from Notre Dame, should help make quarterback Thaddeus Lewis more consistent. Helping the overall cause even more is a veteran line that needs to be far better after doing next to nothing well throughout last year. It'll be tailback by committee with several different options to see carries, while the overall strength will be at receiver with several young, big, good-looking targets for Lewis to use to push the ball deeper.
Defense: The defense is still not going to be a rock, but there's promise with several good young players to revolve around. Top prospects Vince Oghobaase and Ayanga Okpokowuruk are rising stars on the line, while Patrick Bailey is a playmaker who'll be one of the ACC's better pass rushers. Michael Tauiliili is a playmaker at middle linebacker, but the outside linebackers are question marks. Safeties Chris Davis and Adrian Aye-Darko are good, and they'll need to be with major concerns at corner.

Oct. 25 - Boston College
Offense: It's Matt Ryan's offense and everyone is just playing in it. The new coaching staff will install a new zone blocking scheme, putting a premium on quick, flashy runners, but the line might not be suited for the system. The receiving corps is decent, but nothing special, and the tight ends are promising. It all comes down to Ryan, who'll have more control in the attack, able to change things up a bit on the fly, and he should be tremendous now that he's healthy. He was the best quarterback in the ACC last year, and that was with a broken foot.
Defense: Is it time to start giving the BC defense a little love? It allowed 17 points per game in 2004, 15.92 in 2005, and 15.69 last year. With defensive coordinator Frank Spaziani back, it should be even better with nine starters returning including the entire front seven if linebacker Brian Toal is back from a shoulder problem. The monster tackles, B.J. Raji and Ron Brace, will gum up everything inside, while the deep linebacking corps will quietly be among the ACC's best. DeJuan Tribble is one of the league's best shutdown corners, and Jamie Silva is a top free safety. The problem? There isn't a reliable second corner, and strong safety is a question mark.

Nov. 1 – at Georgia Tech
Offense: Is it possible an offense can lose the offensive coordinator, a sure-fire NFL superstar and a four-year starting quarterback and be better? Absolutely. Calvin Johnson's departure will sting, but the passing game should be even better with Taylor Bennett (or any one of a slew of terrific prospects) taking over for Reggie Ball. Patrick Nix left to take over the Miami offense, but John Bond is a veteran who did a good job with the Northern Illinois program for the last three years. James Johnson will be a decent number one target, and now someone else has to quickly emerge to take the heat off and give Bennett more options. Tashard Choice is an All-ACC caliber back leading a deep and talented group of runners working behind a fantastic line loaded with experience and
Defense: The defense had two lousy games against Clemson and West Virginia and was solid against everyone else. With just about everyone returning, expect another great year holding almost everyone to under 300 yards and around 20 points. The defensive line will be one of the team's strengths with one of the best groups of ends in America. MLB Philip Wheeler deserves All-America attention while the safety tandem of Jamal Lewis and Djay Jones will be one of the ACC's best. The corners are a bit suspect and the proven linebacker depth is a bit thin, but those aren't glaring problems.

Nov. 10 - Florida State
Offense: After a dreadful two seasons, the offense is under new leadership with new offensive coordinator Jimbo Fisher coming in to breathe life into the nation's 70th ranked attack. Step one is to find some semblance of a running game, and that starts with talented junior Antone Smith getting more carries. The offensive line, problem one over the last few years, gets a big upgrade with the addition of line coach Rick Trickett from West Virginia. He's immediately pushed everyone to get into better shape and to get a lot tougher. The passing game won't be forgotten about, with Fisher wanting to bomb away down the field to Greg Carr and DeCody Fagg. Now a steady quarterback has to emerge between Drew Weatherford and Xavier Lee.
Defense: The defense came up with a better year than it got credit for, but it gave up too many points. Now the potential is there for this to be a Florida State defense again with tremendous speed and talent in the secondary and a good enough front seven to come up with a big year. There are question marks. Everette Brown is a good-looking pass rushing end, but he needs help from the other side. The linebacking corps will be special as long as Derek Nicholson and Marcus Ball can quickly return from torn ACLs, otherwise it'll be an undersized group with no depth. As always, there's a slew of NFL talent to work around, highlighted by tackle Andre Fluellen and safety Myron Rolle.

Nov. 17 - Miami
Offense: After a miserably inconsistent year finishing 87th in the nation in both total and scoring offense, the attack needs to play up to its talent level. The backfield will be amazing with Javarris James and true freshman Graig Cooper each good enough star for just about anyone in the country. The line has potential with two good tackles in Jason Fox and Reggie Youngblood to work around, and now the passing game has to be far better. The Kyle Wright vs. Kirby Freeman quarterback battle will be an ongoing debate, and the receiving corps has to step up and be better. Lance Leggett emerging as a true number one target would be a start.
Defense: The defense finished seventh in the nation last year despite not getting any help from the offense. The starting 11 should be good enough to shut everyone down, but there will be early concerns with the depth on the defensive line and the secondary. Safety Kenny Phillips and end Calais Campbell might be the two best defensive players in the nation, and everything will revolve around them; they must stay healthy. The linebacking corps might not have name stars, but it'll be a rock against the run with a good rotation of talents.

Nov. 24 – at Virginia
Offense: Until the receivers prove they can play, it'll be run, run and run some more with mobile quarterback Jameel Sewell and decent backs Cedric Peerman and Keith Payne working behind a much improved, veteran line. The tight ends are excellent, but the receiving corps suffered a nasty blow when it lost leading receiver Kevin Ogletree with a knee injury. Now it'll be up to Sewell, a rising star but an inconsistent passer, to make everyone around him better. Don't expect anything flashy for a while.
Defense: Somewhat quietly, the Virginia defense had a terrific year finishing 17th in the nation in total D and 22nd in scoring D. It should be even better with ten starters returning, including top linemen Chris Long and Jeffrey Fitzgerald to anchor the front three. All four starting linebackers are back to form a solid group that doesn't make a whole bunch of mistakes. This might not be the most athletic defense, but it's aggressive and is always around the ball.



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