August 23, 2004
The Big Picture
Throughout the expansion process, Virginia Tech often was lumped into the same category as Miami, as the league successfully and dramatically upgraded its football profile. In some ways, that pairing was accurate. The only teams in the soon-to-be 12-team ACC that appeared in a national championship game at any point in the last decade were the Hokies, the Hurricanes and Florida State. In addition, three of Tech's last five seasons ended with 10 or more victories, a feat matched within the conference by only Miami, FSU and Maryland. On the other hand, the Hokies have lost 13 games over the past three years, and their next generation of All-Americans isn't yet apparent. The big question: Can Tech keep itself in the same conversations with FSU and Miami, or is it destined to battle a handful of other programs for ACC leftovers?
As if the team wasn't inexperienced enough, the demise of Marcus Vick put Tech into an even deeper hole. Vick's suspension by the university for the fall semester, following convictions on charges of contributing to the delinquency of a minor, reckless driving and marijuana possession, left the Hokies with two freshman backup quarterbacks. Cory Holt, one of those rookies, has been plagued by a sore throwing elbow, an ailment quarterbacks coach Kevin Rogers attributes to poor mechanics. If starting QB Bryan Randall gets injured, this team could be in a world of trouble.
Done For Me Lately
|1994||5-2 (2)||8-4||Gator Bowl (L)|
|1995||6-1 (1)||10-2||Sugar Bowl (W)|
|1996||6-1 (1)||10-2||Orange Bowl (L)|
|1997||5-2 (2)||7-5||Gator Bowl (L)|
|1998||5-2 (2)||9-3||Music City Bowl (W)|
|1999||7-0 (1)||11-1||Sugar Bowl (L)|
|2000||6-1 (2)||11-1||Gator Bowl (W)|
|2001||4-3 (3)||8-4||Gator Bowl (L)|
|2002||3-4 (4)||10-4||San Francisco Bowl (W)|
|2003||4-3 (4)||8-5||Insight.com Bowl (W)|
Big East: 51-19 (.729)
Overall: 92-31 (.748)
Junior Jimmy Williams is a potential All-America candidate if he can successfully make the transition from free safety to cornerback. Linebacker Mikal Baaqee has shed 16 pounds and re-gained the speed he showed in 2002. Defensive lineman Jim Davis is one of Tech's best multi-purpose players. He has recovered from pectoral surgery, which forced him to redshirt last year, and was effective at tackle and end in the preseason. Right guard James Miller and Will Montgomery, an all-purpose offensive lineman, also looked good in August and could emerge as the anchors of a solid line protecting Randall.
Coming On Strong
If Tech is going to have an effective passing game, it will depend on the contributions of redshirt freshman Josh Hyman and true freshmen Josh Morgan and Eddie Royal. Tailback George Bell was very highly touted coming out of high school. He and junior Justin Hamilton will play key roles should junior Cedric Humes continue to struggle in his recovery from April ankle surgery. Defensive end Chris Ellis and linebackers Xavier Adibi and Vince Hall, all redshirt freshmen, will play early and often.
Cause For Concern?
Humes' injury could wind up being a recurring issue. Right tackle Jon Dunn has an NFL body but plays stiff and needs better footwork. Other than free safety Mike Daniels, there are no experienced backups in the secondary. The same goes for the offensive line, which will have a new starting center and left guard. Placekicker Brandon Pace, who will begin his first season as a starter, has just one successful extra point on his collegiate resume.
The Whole Truth
"You get out there in practice, and there's just too many young guys going around. They're probably going to be in pretty vital roles, but that's the way it is. The good part about it, though, is it's talented young guys for the most part. You really feel like where we are now is the worst it's going to be, and you improve from here."
Virginia Tech coach Frank Beamer
CHART BY: THE TECH INSIDER
(8-5, 4-3 Big East)
|7||at West Virginia||28|
|24||at Temple (OT)||23|
|Aug. 28||vs. Southern Cal (12-1)|
|Sept. 11||Western Michigan (5-7)|
|Sept. 18||Duke (4-8)|
|Sept. 25||N.C. State (8-5)|
|Oct. 2||West Virginia (8-5)|
|Oct. 9||at Wake Forest (5-7)|
|Oct. 16||Florida A&M (6-6)|
|Oct. 28||at Georgia Tech (7-6)|
|Nov. 6||at North Carolina (2-10)|
|Nov. 18||Maryland (10-3)|
|Nov. 27||Virginia (8-5)|
|Dec. 4||at Miami (11-2)|
Clemson, Florida State