Tag Archives: Tyrod Taylor

Duke will look to end a 10-game losing streak against Virginia Tech on October 29

Blue Devils will host defending ACC Champion Virginia Tech on October 29

Duke will look to end a 10-game losing streak against Virginia Tech on October 29

The Blue Devils last defeated Virginia Tech in 1981, but they will be trying to do just that when they welcome the Hokies to Wallace Wade Stadium on October 29. In Head Coach David Cutcliffe’s first two seasons in Durham, Duke gave Virginia Tech a scare, coming within a few plays of pulling off the unlikely upset. When the Blue Devils traveled to Blacksburg a season ago, however, the Hokies put the game away early, cruising to a 44-7 victory.

This year, the defending ACC Champions are the consensus pick to win the ACC Coastal Division, despite the loss of several stars on both sides of the ball. BDN is excited to again have the help of furrer4heisman from Gobbler Country to give us an inside look at the 2011 Hokies.

BDN: Despite all of the scandals in college football over the past several years, Virginia Tech continues to win the right way, year in and year out. What would you consider to be the keys to the Hokies’ consistent success? Do you think they receive enough credit for their success, and more importantly, for how they achieve it?

GC: I think they get the proper amount of credit. I don’t have the links on hand, but just about any time a news outlet polls the coaches and asks them who they respect, Beamer is usually pretty high on the list. His peers recognize what he’s done and how he’s done it.

The way they’ve done it is through good talent evaluation. They go after kids that fit their system and fit their attitude. Not many five-star recruits come to Virginia Tech, but very often you get guys who play above their star rating. A lot of the credit for that goes to Mike Gentry, who runs the S&C program.

There was also a little bit of luck involved. They came to the ACC just as FSU and Miami went in the toilet. If that doesn’t happen, who knows? maybe there’s one or two fewer 10-win seasons for the Hokies since 2004.

BDN: Some pundits predict that Virginia Tech could go undefeated in 2011, but most still predicted Florida State to win the ACC Championship. How good can this Virginia Tech team be in 2011? Are the expectations among the media and the fan base too high or too low?

GC: I think, right now, it’s too high. I’m never a fan of picking a team based on their schedule. I remember there were years in the Big Ten that some teams would have a random year where Ohio State and Michigan would cycle off their schedule and suddenly everyone thought Purdue or whoever was a threat to win the league. Then they’d go 6-6. Virginia Tech has a favorable schedule based on what teams did last year and what’s usually expected out of the Hokies.

But we’re paper thin on the defensive line, weren’t very good against the run last year and will be starting a first-year quarterback. There are a lot of things that could potentially go wrong for the Hokies. No. 13 in the country in both polls is too high in my opinion. Anywhere 16-20 is a much better spot and I think you’ll see Tech go 10-2 or 9-3 in the regular season. They’ll lose to someone they shouldn’t, just like they do every year.

QB Logan Thomas is set to take over for 2010 ACC POY Tyrod Taylor this season

BDN: The Hokies return 12 starters from last year’s ACC Championship team, but will have to replace several stars on offense, including ACC POY Tyrod Taylor. The expectations are high for first-year starters David Wilson and Logan Thomas, and they have big shoes to fill. Can they carry the load for the Virginia Tech offense? What are the question marks for the 2011 Hokie offense?

GC: The question marks always exist on the offensive line. For the last four or five years, the offensive line has struggled due to injury or graduation at the beginning of the year and gets much better by the end. Then, in the offseason we’re told the line has turned the corner and that this year’s line is going to be improved. Then, it’s a disaster to start the season again and the process starts over. So until the line actually performs well at the start of the season, I’m not going to believe it.

As for Thomas, he should be fine as long as he isn’t asked to win games himself and the line is able to keep him upright. He’s thrown a few interceptions during fall practice, but he’s a first-year starter so I expect he’s going to throw a few of those. As long as we only ask him to manage the game, I’m confident in him. Plus, he has several veteran receives who will make his life easier. It won’t be like Taylor’s second year when the Hokies’ receivers had something like nine career catches and Taylor had no clue if the route called for them was going to be the one they ran.

Wilson’s already a folk hero on campus and as long as he stays healthy will have a big year. He’s not a concern, but what is a concern is what effect having to handle most of, if not all, of the significant carries will have on him.

BDN: We know how good the Virginia Tech defense and special teams units usually are, producing a +19 turnover margin in 2010. With just five starters returning on defense, who will be expected to step up this year alongside All-ACC candidates Bruce Taylor and Jayron Hosley?

GC: Anyone on the defensive line. And we have no clue who it will be. Every defensive end on the roster is a sophomore or freshman. All have little or no playing time under their belts. At defensive tackle, the injury to senior Kwamaine Battle means the Hopkins Brothers will start at the two DT positions and be backed up by true freshmen Luther Maddy and Corey Marshall, who is 6-1, 253. A 253-pound defensive tackle.

So really two or three of those freshman and sophomore have to step up. I think James Gayle, one of the sophomore defensive ends, is set to have a big year but at this point it’s anyone’s guess. Somehow, we have to do better than 4.7 yards per carry against, which was 10th in the ACC last year. If we do that again, I don’t care if you’re playing Alabama or Appalachian State in your opener, it’s just not going to get it done.

BDN: Last year’s game in Blacksburg seemed to be a blowout before Duke had even snapped the ball. In previous years, the Blue Devils had given the Hokies a bit of a scare. What do you expect to see in Durham this year, and what would the Blue Devils have to do to pull off the unlikely upset?

GC: I don’t think Duke’s going to go to a bowl this year, I do think they’re going to beat someone they have no business beating. Will be the Hokies? Well, in order for that to happen I think Duke’s going to have to catch Tech a little fatigued. It’s possible since Duke is the last game before Virginia Tech’s bye week and will be the Hokies’ ninth game in as many weeks. Then, the Blue Devils are going to force turnovers like they did in the 2008 game in Blacksburg. Then they’re going to have to get some production on the ground to take some pressure off Renfree. If all three of those things happen, then you might see an upset.

I’m biased, but I don’t think it’s going to be the Hokies. However, someone other than the usual suspects are going to go down against you guys this year. You guys had so many games last year where you looked good and then turned into a pumpkin that you can’t help but learn from that and find some kind of killer instinct.

BDN: Finally, Duke will host Andrew Luck and Stanford in week 2 this fall. After seeing his performance in last year’s Orange Bowl, do you have any advice for the Blue Devils?

GC: Sure, watch out you don’t get killed.

BDN: Thanks so much for your insight. Good luck this season!

 

Previous week: Wake Forest at Duke, October 22

Next week: Duke at Miami, November 5

BDN’s 2009 ACC Football Preview – Virginia Tech

The Blue Devil Nation will preview all twelve Atlantic Coast Conference teams in the coming months.  Here is the first of those previews –

2008-09 record – 10-4 (ACC Champions, 20-7 Orange Bowl victory over Cincinnati)

Returning starters – Offense 9, Defense 7  Letterman returning 40, lost 16

Head Coach – Frank Beamer 177-89-2, bowl record 7-9

BDN’s early predicted order of finish – 1st in the Coastal Division, projected record 9-3

tyrodtaylor.com
tyrodtaylor.com

When one starts to preview the 2009 ACC Football season it becomes clear that once again the league will feature a lot of balance.  But if you are looking for a front runner, look no further than Virginia Tech.  The Hokies are coming off a 10-4 campaign which includes an Orange Bowl win over Cincinnati.  Some in Blacksburg might consider that record a disappointment, but how much can they complain with another ACC Championship.

There were three main reasons why the Hokies dropped four games in 2009, the first being breaking in inexperienced players at key positions, the second was a lethargic offense and the third was the special teams sudden inability to come up with points.   Virginia Tech head coach was breaking several new players at key positions and that early season inexperience allowed a fired up East Carolina team to win a close battle in the opener.

I wouldn’t necessarily look for that to change in 2009 in that the opening day opponent is Alabama in Atlanta, Georgia.  However, the Hokies can pull out a win if their offense shows off season improvement.  Yes, one of the other weaknesses I alluded to was last seasons offensive production.  How many times did the Hokies score 30 points or more?  The answer is twice against Nebraska on the road and Boston College in the ACC Championship Game.

The bottom line is any time the Hokies offense clicks they tend to win just as they did in the two aforementioned contests.  Beamer will work with nine returning starters this season including  junior quarterback Tyrod Taylor (923 passing yards, 53.7%, 425 rushing yards) who will have some familiar cohorts to team with.  One of those teammates is running back Darren Evans a sophomore who emerged as the starting back in his freshman season.  Evans ran for a school record 253 yards against Maryland and seems primed to become a premiere back in the ACC.

The offense will be balanced by solid senior tight end Greg Boone who had over 500 yards in caches at around 13 yards per catch.  Then there is Jarret Boykin who averaged 14.7 ypc as a true freshman.  In fact, all of the Hokie receivers were green last season and should benefit from last seasons inexperience.

For those players to flourish, the offensive line has to close some gaps which allowed for 54 sacks in 07 but showed improvement last season.  Several key starters return which should help Beamer have a more productive offense.

The defense returns seven starters and is always formidable and this year will be no different.  The defensive line is anchored by Jason Worilds and John Graves and continues to be a strength.

The linebackers are led by two of the leagues best in Cam Martin and Cody Grimm. It’s worth noting that this unit has more experience this season after breaking in several young players in 08.  The Hokies will look to build experience in the pre season and see which players step up.  With a solid defensive front and secondary, more consistent play from the linebackers would make this already solid defense even tougher.

Dorian Porch  is probably the best of the bunch in the secondary, but this is the are where a lot of off season work took place due to the loss of Victor “Macho” Harris to the NFL.  Still, with seven of your top eight back, look for this unit to be one of the ACC’s best.

Matt Waldron returns as the kicker, but the Hokies will be breaking in a new punter on special teams.  An off season emphasis was to get their special teams coverage to score more points after struggling to do so in 08.

Final words – Virginia Tech was the first ACC team to win a BCS bowl game since 1999.   The offensive line must come together for the offense to use several weapons in 09.   The defense looks to be one of if not the ACC’s best.  The Hokies play in the very competitive Coastal division which includes Georgia Tech, Miami, and North Carolina, all teams capable of going to the ACC Championship game.  BDN’s early pick is that the Hokies will go 9-3 and win their division.  Despite being ranked as high as 5th in the country in one pre season publication, the fact that many of their victories were close last season prevents us from picking them to rumble through the conference.  The Hokies get Miami, Boston College, North Carolina and N.C. State at home and Duke, Georgia Tech, Maryland and Virginia on the road.  Should the Hokies defeat Alabama in the opener, a banner season could be in store.   It’s worth noting that game will be played on artificial turf and is the only game the Hokies are off grass all season long.

Virginia Tech visits Durham and Wallace Wade Stadium on October 3rd.  For season or individual tickets contact GoDuke.com