2012 ACC Football Season Recap: Virginia Tech Hokies

Virginia Tech's Defense Was Forced to Carry the Hokies in 2012, With Mixed Results

Virginia Tech’s Defense Was Forced to Carry the Hokies in 2012, With Mixed Results

Team: Virginia Tech Hokies

W-L: 7-6 (4-4)

Postseason: 13-10 Russell Athletic Bowl win over Rutgers

Top Offensive Performer: Marcus Davis, WR

Top Defensive Performer: Antone Exum, CB

Going into the 2012 season, the biggest concerns for Virginia Tech surrounded the team’s youth on the offensive line (four new starters) and its inexperience at running back. As it would happen, both ended up having a severely negative effect on the team throughout the year. And then, when coupled with the added pressure on both Logan Thomas to deliver a standout performance (he did not), and the defense to make up for the offense’s shortcomings (also struggled)… well, it’s no wonder why VaTech failed to win 10 games for the first time in eight years.

Virginia Tech’s offensive struggles were foretold well in advance, yet that didn’t make it any less striking when fans actually saw it all in action. The Hokies finished 83rd in the country in yards per game (376.8), a steep drop from last season’s 36th-place finish in the same category. Their 25.1 points per game also underwhelmed, especially when considering how much that average was weighted by just three results (wins over Austin Peay, Bowling Green and Duke). In the Hokies’ other 10 games, they’d fall short of 20 points five different times, and average just 22.6 points per game (would’ve ranked 96th in the FBS). And it’s tough to blame just one part of the unit, either. As mentioned, Thomas fell well short of expectations, with his numbers for accuracy, completions and touchdowns going down, while interceptions and sacks spiked up. And the running backs, faced with following behind current New York Giant David Wilson, also found themselves in trouble, as five different rushers couldn’t combine for as many yards as he racked up his junior year. Of course, it’s a cop-out to blame the offensive line, but it’s hard to deny the effect of their inexperience on the overall results.

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Russell Athletic Bowl Preview: Virginia Tech Hokies vs. Rutgers Scarlet Knights

It's Been a Rough Year for Logan Thomas, But He'll Still Be the Key to a Hokies Bowl Win

It’s Been a Rough Year for Logan Thomas, But He’ll Still Be the Key to a Hokies Bowl Win

Virginia Tech endured its worst season in two decades this year, struggling to win two straight games in order to get back to a bowl. Rutgers, after getting themselves into the BCS Rankings’ top 15, lost three of three of their final five contests, and fell backwards into a four-way tie for the Big East title. Which team’s recent trend will continue?

Bowl Game: Russell Athletic Bowl

Location: Orlando, Fla.

First Year: 1990 (Blockbuster Bowl)

2012 Participants: Virginia Tech Hokies (6-6) vs. Rutgers Scarlet Knights (9-3)

Last Meeting: Virginia Tech over Rutgers, 48-22 (2003)

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Virginia Tech (previous bowl game: 23-20 loss to Michigan in 2012 Allstate Sugar Bowl)

Before the season started, experts felt that Virginia Tech, while certainly adjusting to a ton of new faces on the O-line and in the backfield, could still succeed behind QB Logan Thomas and a staunch defense. Instead, the team tumbled to the brink of bowl ineligibility with a defense that was frequently put in poor field position, mostly be an offense that struggled mightily. Still, the team was top-40 nationally in passing and rushing yards per game, as well as points allowed per game (23.9). So that leaves this one up to the offense more than anything else. Thomas, who put on quite a performance in 2011, has regressed significantly in 2012, but has continuously been relied upon to carry this team by himself. While there’s no point in creating excuses for the junior passer, it’s hard to otherwise figure the increase in sacks and interceptions from one year to the next. The key for Tech in this one will be mixing it up — involving a running game that was middle-of-the-road at its best, and completely inefficient at worst. Rutgers’ defense found itself most effective this season when facing one-dimensional teams. If the Hokies allow them to generate too much pressure on Thomas, it’s sure to result in more costly turnovers. While Thomas’s mobility can also be an asset, it’s just too much pressure for him to be the only effective offensive player.

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ACC Football 2012 Power Rankings: Week 14

Tajh Boyd and the Clemson Offense Were No Match for South Carolina, as the Gamecocks Embarrassed the Tigers Once Again

With the regular season officially over, we check back in with the ACC’s teams to assess the damage of 2012. The good: two teams won ten games during the regular season, just one team won less than four games, and 10 teams (could be 11 if Pitt wins this weekend) won at least six games. The bad: No team won more than 10 games, two of the league’s top five teams are ineligible, and eight teams (out of 14) won between five and seven games. Oh, and Maryland decided to leave. Which is bad.

1. Florida State Seminoles (10-2) (7-1) (LW: 1): Favored against archrival Florida, the Seminoles had a very manageable game at home and seemed poised for their first 11-win regular season in years. But then they struggled out the gate, and closed just as poorly en route to a 37-26 defeat. As a team, FSU looked outmatched everywhere but the defensive line, and quarterback EJ Manuel‘s four turnovers were the stuff of a worst-case nightmare. They’ll be favored again in the ACC Championship Game, and under no circumstances can the conference really afford for them to lose.

2. Clemson Tigers (10-2) (7-1) (LW: 2): Clemson’s BCS dreams are all but dead after they came up very short against South Carolina and its vaunted defensive front. The Tigers impressive offense was shut down in a way no one had really figured out up until Saturday, and the result exposed a team that can’t run the ball with consistency, nor can they manage to stop anyone on defense either. If Clemson hopes to take the next step and become a truly elite program under coach Dabo Swinney, they need to take full advantage of opportunities against top-tier competition. They had just three games against teams with winning records all season, and went 1-2 in those contests, while being outscored 124-116.

3. Miami (FL) Hurricanes (7-5) (5-3) (LW: 5): It’s unfortunate for the conference to see Miami sit out another postseason, but if the alternative is seeing an even better, more experienced version of this group next year, it may be the best option for everyone. In line to play in its first ACC title game, we miss out on a ‘Canes/’Noles matchup this year in exchange for what’s hopefully many more to come. Anyone who watched Stephen Morris and Duke Johnson in action this season knows there are good times ahead, so long as the defense starts to clean up its act.

4. North Carolina Tar Heels (8-4) (5-3) (LW: 4): As the year’s wore on, we’ve caught glimpses of what this Heels offense could truly become under Larry Fedora and his spread attack. But on Saturday, quarterback Bryn Renner really delivered on that potential by putting up over 300 yards and five touchdowns. The junior’s obviously taken a bit more time to adapt to the new system than initially expected, but all in all, you still can’t argue with 3,356 yards and 28 scores. Expect even better production next year, as Fedora really turns him loose.

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ACC Football 2012 Previews & Predictions: Week 13 (Part 1)

Florida State and Florida Headline a Big Weekend of Rivalry Games for the ACC

Not much left to be decided on the last regular season weekend of ACC action. Florida State and Georgia Tech have their respective division titles clinched, and Miami and UNC are officially staying home for the postseason. But luckily, it’s Rivalry Week, so still plenty on the line for many schools. It’s also a prime weekend for the ACC to help out its reputation. Four teams go up against SEC foes this week. If the ACC can come out ahead in at least two of those (three are against teams in the top 13 of the BCS rankings), it would be a huge statement to close a forgettable regular season.

Game of the Week

Florida Gators (10-1) at Florida State Seminoles (10-1) (7-1): With both teams ranked in the top 10, there’s an extra spark in this rivalry not seen in a few years. The Gators, currently ranked fourth in the BCS standings, could very well be playing for a chance at a national championship shot. Florida State, on the other hand, is looking to take home the Florida Cup for the second straight year, and would love to put a damper on UF’s aspirations. Florida has struggled in recent weeks, but with starting quarterback Jeff Driskel back on Saturday, they’re hoping the offense receives a shot in the arm. They’ll need it if they hope to get by the ‘Noles stifling defense, which has allowed 20 points or more just three times all season. Prediction: Florida State 26, Florida 21

The Rest of the Slate (in order of start time):

Syracuse Orange (6-5) at Temple Owls (4-6): The Orange are riding high after two straight victories earned them bowl eligibility. Can they keep up momentum in their final Big East football game, though? It’s tough to tell. There’s a 90-percent chance that regardless of what happens, SU is headed to the Pinstripe Bowl, and Temple also has no means to get to the postseason themselves, with only 11 games on the schedule. Still, given the number of seniors taking the field for the Orange, we may see another rave-worthy performance — to give a boost to draft stocks if nothing else. In particular, offensive stars Alec Lemon and Ryan Nassib have been getting buzz to go on the first or second day of the NFL Draft next spring. They’d hate to slip up now, especially with just two games remaining. Prediction: Syracuse 38, Temple 20

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ACC Football 2012 Power Rankings: Week 13

Florida State Clinched a Spot in the ACC Title Game, But Still Have Bigger Goals in Mind

Avoiding realignment talk is difficult, but we’ll try here, as there is still an actual football season still going on, with actual games being played. Due to the design of the ACC schedule, the conference championship game is set, and this week is mostly about BCS positioning and a few teams wrapping up bowl bids. The conference is bound to fall short of its allotment of bowl slots, but the question now begs how many. In an absolute worst-case scenario, the season may end up with just five bowl-eligible teams. Just pray that doesn’t happen.

1. Florida State Seminoles (10-1) (7-1) (LW: 1): Florida State took care of business last Saturday, wrapping up its third Atlantic division title via tiebreaker advantage with Clemson (who it beat back in September). But there’s still more left to do — namely beating archrival Florida in their annual grudge match for state supremacy. The Gators sit at no. 4 in the most recent BCS rankings, and FSU would love nothing more than to drop them from that perch. Vegas likes their odds, and there’s little chance the ‘Noles aren’t up for this game, which will be played at home in Tallahassee.

2. Clemson Tigers (10-1) (7-1) (LW: 2): The Tigers’ BCS chances took a bit of a hit last week when Oregon lost to Stanford, effectively slotting the Pac-12 back into two-bid territory. Still, Clemson can’t control what happens out west, and must focus on what it can control: beating South Carolina for the first time since 2008. The Gamecocks, while a bit banged-up on both sides of the ball, are still one of the country’s most formidable defenses, which should make this a fun matchup of strengths. Quarterback Tajh Boyd may still be able to put on a solid performance, but it won’t hold a candle to Saturday’s eight-touchdown day.

3. Georgia Tech Yellow Jackets (6-5) (5-3) (LW: 10): It’s been a roller coaster season for the Wreck this year. And one that still has a few turns left in it as well. After clinching the ACC Coastal Division by virtue of Miami’s self-imposed postseason ban on Monday, they now have their sights set on beating no. 3 Georgia in Clean, Old-Fashioned Hate and then taking the ACC’s BCS berth, too. And in a season like this, would you really rule it out? Since their 3-5 start, the Yellow Jackets have rattled off three straight impressive wins, scoring a combined 143 points over that span. Win or lose, the ‘Dogs will certainly have their work cut out for them.

4. North Carolina Tar Heels (7-4) (4-3) (LW: 4): The Heels won a hard-fought game in the latest iteration of the South’s Oldest Rivalry, while further proving just how unpredictable they can be. After leaning heavily on running back Giovani Bernard for about seven straight games, they’ve pumped the breaks on his touches, and emphasized the passing game even more. Is Larry Fedora trying to prepare his team for life without their star back next season? Nothing’s confirmed yet, but it sure seems like that could be the case.

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