Frank Beamer has done such a good job with the Virginia Tech program that even though they lose their top three tacklers on defense and every running back and receiver that made a significant contribution on offense, they are still considered the favorites to win the Coastal Division in the ACC. Then again, the ACC isn't exactly bursting with quality football at the moment, so maybe that isn't as impressive as it seems.

The Hokies might get more scoring out of their defense and special teams this season. Check out this recipe for disaster: Top running back Brabden Orr was kicked off the team over the summer, and the only other two contributors from 2007, Kenny Lewis and Jahre Cheeseman, were both injured in spring practice and are questionable for the start of the season; The top four receivers from 2007 graduated, and Brandon Dillard, an emerging deep threat, was also injured in the spring and will miss the entire season; The offensive line returns four of five starters, but the unit that gave up a whopping 54 sacks in '07 and didn't exactly pave the way for a good ground game either. Things aren't all bad though. Victor "Macho" Harris will lend his services to the offense, and he might end up being the best player on both sides of the ball. The Hokies offense will also be bolstered by a solid pair of multi-talented tight ends in Sam Wheeler and Greg Boone - who is the biggest dude you'll ever see wearing a number 8 jersey. The success of the offense in 2008 is going to hinge on Tyrod Taylor's development. Taylor is a fantastic athlete with the potential to carry an offense - IF he can make major strides in the passing game. If not, Sean Glennon (who's no Dan Marino himself) will continue to split time with Taylor and the offense will sputter.

You can't just replace a pair of players like linebackers Vince Hall and Xavier Adibi. The two LBs have been on the field making plays and leading the defense for four years now, and their leadership and playmaking ability will be sorely missed. Once again, it will be Macho Harris to the rescue. The ballhawk defensive back has the attitude of a top flight cornerback and has proven his skills on the field by picking off 9 passes over the past two seasons. Expect big things from this All American - as long as he doesn't wear himself out playing on offense. The pass rush should still be in good hands in Bud Foster's attacking defense. Ends Orion Martin, Jason Worilds, and Nekos Brown will keep quarterbacks nervous. Overall the Hokie defense will continue to perform, but with the loss of two long-time leaders I can't imagine there not being at least a little bit of a dropoff.

Rising Star- Defensive End Jason Worilds. Formerly known as Jason Adjepong, the talented sophomore had an impressive spring and looks to be the next in a long line of imposing Hokie pass rushers.

Keep An Eye On- The quarterback situation.

No comments: