The least you should know about the 2011 Hokies. Part of ACC Week.
• Tapping on that glass ceiling. It's hard to complain about Virginia Tech. The Hokies have won at least 10 games in each of the last seven seasons, won three of the past four ACC championships and have basically been ole' reliable when it comes to leading the conference.
So why are we not impressed?
It's all well and good that Virginia Tech has had its way with a weak ACC, especially in recent years, but there's got to be something bigger for the Hokies; a greater goal, and they're not achieving it. Since joining the ACC, Virginia Tech has played in four BCS bowl games, but not one of those games has been the national championship. Since 2004, the Hokies haven't finished the season ranked higher than seventh (2005) and most of the time it's fallen out of the top 10. Still, Virginia Tech remains the team to beat in the ACC and if the Hokies win the ACC, its fans will be pleased. But will they be satisfied?
• A different kind of quarterback. With Tyrod Taylor gone, Logan Thomas takes over as the Hokies' signal caller and he brings a different style to a team that's been used to a QB who can tuck and run. Thomas is 6-foot-6, 245 pounds and has the shiftiness of a turtle, but his height and size should allow him to stay longer in the pocket, fight off defenders and find some of those receivers that Taylor often missed. It helps that top receivers Jarrett Boykin (53 catches for 847 yards and six touchdowns) and Danny Coale (39 catches for 732 yards and three touchdowns) return and they figure to get a lot more work than they have in the past.
• Running down depth. David Wilson returns as the Hokies' top rushing threat after notching 113 carries for 619 yards and five touchdowns a year ago. However, after him, the experience is nil. Last year's top two backs, Darren Evans and Taylor, are gone, as is No. 4 back Ryan Williams, who declared for the NFL draft. The beauty of Wilson is his versatility. He also caught for more than 200 yards and four scores. However, if he gets hurt, the Hokies' are going to have a lot of trouble mounting a running game with a slew of unknown backs.
• Not the usual defense. With just five starters back, the Virginia Tech defense is a little more suspect than in past years. Defensive tackle Antoine Hopkins is the only returner on the defensive line and the other three players -- J.R. Collins, Derrick Hopkins and James Gayle -- are all sophomores. Because of the youth, the Hokies' will rely heavily on the linebacking corps, which is anchored by Jeron Gouveia-Winslow and Bruce Taylor. Taylor led the team with 15.5 tackles for loss and was second with six sacks. He also had 91 tackles.
The defense had a shaky start a year ago, which led to the Hokies 0-2 record, but rallied to finish tops in the conference. If the front line can get adjusted quickly, Virginia Tech has the talent to continue to be the league's elite defense.