ACC 2012 Season Preview: Virginia Tech Hokies

Virginia Tech QB Logan Thomas Looks to Be the Difference-Maker for a Team Lacking Offensive Experience

Team: Virginia Tech Hokies

2011 W-L: 11-3 (7-1)

Head Coach: Frank Beamer (209-98-2; 26th season)

Returning Starters: 12 (3 Offense, 9 Defense)

An eighth straight 10-win season is rarely a disappointment, regardless of your team or conference. Of course, you’d also assume this string was part of a larger resume of success in that time frame. If you’re Virginia Tech, this is not the case, unfortunately. Sure, they’ve collected four ACC championships, but that’s not what we remember. Instead, they’re seen as the team that’s gone 1-4 in BCS games in that stretch, and one that has a knack for losing big games. True or not, they’re now battling perception. And only a huge postseason win is going to get them a victory in that conversation.

The Virginia Tech offense will be in transition this season, but it won’t reduce the stress on junior signal-caller Logan Thomas. Over the offseason, he lost his running back to the NFL Draft, four-fifths of his offensive line and his top two wide receivers. But if his steady improvement last year is any indicator, he’s more than capable of overcoming those numerous obstacles. An imposing 6’6″ and 260 pounds, he’ll again be hard to stop as a runner, and his passing ability just continues to get better. If the revamped offensive line cooperates (never a sure thing), he’ll need to quickly develop rapports with his new primary targets. D.J. Coles has plenty of experience, and appears ready to jump into a new, expanded role in the passing game. But there’s still question marks around Dyrell Roberts. Throughout his Tech career, he’s never really “made the jump,” so to speak, so there’s questions as to whether the fifth-year senior can finally make it happen. He’ll be given plenty of chances, so it’s up to him to make it happen.

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ACC Football 2012 Payback Games: Virginia Tech Hokies

If Virginia Tech Hopes to Beat Clemson in 2012, Logan Thomas Will Need to Learn How to Better Handle Pressure in the Pocket

Every team in the ACC has a couple games they wish they had back from 2011. Whether they didn’t bring their A-game, or the other guys just got lucky, every school would love another shot at an opponent, for the ability to prove it won’t happen again. Luckily, because of conference play and parity in the ACC, many will get a chance at redemption immediately, with rematches already on the books for 2012.

As part of our 2012 college football season preview, we’ll be running through the biggest “payback” games for each school. As no team finished with just one loss, there are likely multiple choices for each — none more “right’ than another, necessarily. Still, every selection should help provide some extra motivation for fans as they gear up for this season’s slate of games.

Team: Virginia Tech Hokies

Opponent: Clemson

Last Year: Loss, 23-3 vs. Clemson/Loss, 38-10 vs. Clemson

This Year: October 20, @ Clemson

The only double-loss occurrence on our list, the Hokies suffered the rare feat in embarrassing fashion last season. Even though they boasted one of the nation’s best defensive units, Virginia Tech was blasted for a combined 61 points in the two meetings, as Clemson’s play-calling managed to keep them consistently on their toes. The keys — run-and-gun (a big part of the Tigers’ 2011 offense, which had a very low time-of-possession) and a balanced attack that got the team’s bevy of weapons involved. With four big targets, plus QB Tajh Boyd, Tech couldn’t account for every man, and paid the price repeatedly (especially in the ACC title game). Continue reading

ACC Football 2012 Payback Games: Duke Blue Devils

Duke’s Matt Daniels Was a Big Part of their Close Loss to Virginia Tech in 2011. Will They Be Able to Reverse Their Fortunes in the Rematch Without Him?

Every team in the ACC has a couple games they wish they had back from 2011. Whether they didn’t bring their A-game, or the other guys just got lucky, every school would love another shot at an opponent, for the ability to prove it won’t happen again. Luckily, because of conference play and parity in the ACC, many will get a chance at redemption immediately, with rematches already on the books for 2012.

As part of our 2012 college football season preview, we’ll be running through the biggest “payback” games for each school. As no team finished with just one loss, there are likely multiple choices for each — none more “right’ than another, necessarily. Still, every selection should help provide some extra motivation for fans as they gear up for this season’s slate of games.

Team: Duke Blue Devils

Opponent: Virginia Tech

Last Year: Loss, 14-10 vs. Virginia Tech

This Year: October 13, at Virginia Tech

Duke really thought they’d finally broken through. In a year when they were supposed to finally make that first bowl game since 1994, things appeared less bleak than normal. At 3-4, hosting divisional nemesis Virginia Tech — maybe the impossible could happen. Maybe, they could have broken a then-43-game losing streak to ranked opponents. Obviously, that was not the case, and that streak hit 44 by days end. But if ever there was a moral victory for Duke, this one might have qualified. Continue reading

NFL Draft 2012: Luke Kuechly, David Wilson, Andre Branch Among 31 ACC Players Selected

Luke Kuechly Headlines a Long List of ACC Football Players Drafted By NFL Teams This Weekend

The 2012 NFL Draft is officially in the books, after 253 selections from the NFL’s 32 franchises. In total, the ACC saw 31 players chosen in this year’s draft — 33, if you include the two draftees from Syracuse (for argument’s sake, we will here). That number — regardless of which you decide to use — puts the conference behind just the SEC and Big Ten in terms of NFL-bound talent this season. While not the only thing that counts by any means, moving players on to the NFL resonates with potential recruits, and does help all 14 schools in one way or another.

We’ve included various breakdowns below — from school-by-school, to conference comparisons, an NFL team-by-team list, as well as the full roster of ACC players chosen between Thursday and Saturday. Also, stop by later on, to see our compilation of the most confusing non-selections from the ACC. Continue reading

NFL Draft 2012: Luke Kuechly, Quinton Coples Among Four ACC First-Rounders

Former UNC Defensive End Quinton Coples Will Now Be Suiting Up for the New York Jets

Of the 32 players selected during Thursday’s first round of the 2012 NFL Draft, four ended up hailing from ACC schools. And while three of them were expected to go in the opening round, another appeared to be a slight reach, though nothing to be surprised about.

We’ll have a full breakdown post-Draft next week, but for now, here are the league’s four first round picks:

No. 9 Overall: Luke Kuechly, LB, Boston College, selected by the Carolina Panthers

We said Kuechly was top-10 the other day, and it ends up we — like many others — were spot-on in that assessment. Carolina gets themselves a fierce competitor and defender who’s likely to play an active role in the struggling defense from early on.

No. 16 Overall: Quinton Coples, DE, North Carolina, selected by the New York Jets

Something tells me that Coples’ big issue (effort) will become a non-factor once he arrives at Jets camp this summer. Either that, or he’ll get sucked into the Rex Ryan circus. For his sake, let’s hope he can avoid the distractions in New York, and play up to the potential he’s always shown in spurts. Continue reading

2012 NFL Draft Preview: Top 10 ACC Prospects

On the Day Before the NFL Draft, Boston College’s Luke Kuechly Looks Like He’ll Be the ACC’s First Selection

Over the last few weeks, we took a look at the ACC players that would find themselves selected in the 2012 NFL Draft, which begins this Thursday, April 26. And now, that day is nearly here, and we can finally end the charade of these athletes not getting paid to do what they do (only half-joking)…

If you’d like to take a more thorough look at how each of these prospects stack up, feel free to glance over all 14 teams’ draft preview posts, which you’ll find links to in the series’ final post for Wake Forest. As for this post, however, we’ll be listing the top 10 prospects, with a quick note on their skill set, and where they could possibly end up. Feel free to disagree with these, of course, since no one actually talks about when projecting out the NFL Draft.

Top 10 ACC Prospects for the 2012 NFL Draft

1. Luke Kuechly, LB, Boston College (Projected Round: 1)

As the top linebacker in the 2012 NFL Draft class, Kuechly could go to a myriad of teams, depending on need, but consensus says he’s a surefire top-10 selection. With this in mind, his most likely destinations (barring trades) are the Jacksonville Jaguars, Miami Dolphins or Carolina Panthers.

2. Quinton Coples, DE, North Carolina (Projected Round: 1)

The New York Giants have proven continuously that a consistent pass rush can lead teams single-handedly to the Super Bowl — a strategy that will benefit players like Coples this year, who know how to get after the quarterback. Nearly every team in the middle of the first round could use him, but odds are on the New York Jets, Cincinnati Bengals or San Diego Chargers. Continue reading

2012 NFL Draft Preview: Virginia Tech

Virginia Tech’s David Wilson Could Be a First Round Pick if the Cards Fall Right

Leading up to this month’s NFL Draft, we’ll be taking a look at each ACC‘s school’s prospects and where they’re slated to be chosen. While 43 ACC players were invited to the NFL Draft Combine, those not in attendance also have ample opportunity to hear their name called between April 26 and 28.

Virginia Tech moves a lot of talent from last year’s offense into the 2012 NFL Draft — a sure-fire issue for the Hokies that remain. While none are necessarily blue-chippers once they begin their professional careers, this batch of college players were a huge part of last year’s BCS bid, and the team will struggle to prevent drop-off without them.

David Wilson, RB, Junior

As good as Tech QB Logan Thomas is, Wilson is the one who truly made their offense run so well throughout 2011. A reliable, strong runner, his ability to take the pressure off of Thomas allowed for a balanced, aggressive attack that the team will struggle to duplicate this season. As a junior last season, Wilson burst onto the scene by leading the ACC in rushing, while also playing an active role in the passing game. His 300-plus touches on the year were among the most in the conference, reinforcing thoughts on his durability, too. At the combine, he impressed once again by running a 4.40 40-yard dash — blazing speed that sealed his place among the top three or four players at his position, and quieted fears about his relative lack of size (5’10”, 210 pounds). He’s currently projected to go very early in the second round, however, if other running backs are taken earlier than conventional wisdom says, he may vault into the first round. Continue reading