From Gobbler Country reader Riggs,
"Are we really going to be that good next year? I just don't see us being a top 10 team given last season's offensive output. Tell me that we're overhauling the offense, or we're adding new packages. Give me some hope."
Brian "Where's The Ice" responds:
We still have Bud Foster after all the speculation of him taking ahead coaching position someplace else, at least for now. He's the most important figure in the Hokie defense, and so long as he's still running the show, our D will be just fine. Offense, is another matter all together. Unfortunately, I don't have any reason to suspect that we're overhauling offense, and if we are, I don't think we'll see the changes come into form this season, next season at the very soonest in that case. We're definitely a top 25 team, but I don't see us sustaining a top 10 ranking for any substantial part of the season. The ACC is slowly making it's improvements with respect to the rest of the NCAA. I expect this season to present tougher matches in intra-conference play, so overall I expect a tougher strength of schedule than we've had in awhile. Despite the ACC's shoddy post season performance, it had the highest win percentage of the regular season in '08. And given that many of our fellow ACC programs have been in a perpetual state of rebuilding for a few seasons now, I expect some of that rebuilding to cone to fruition in '09.
This team has the dreaded word "potential" associated with it. Well, the Hokies basketball team had a ton of "potential" this year, so that should tell you how far potential will get you. That said, while there have been individual players in the past on offense better than some of these guys, but never has there been this much talent across the board on a football team that Virginia Tech has put on the field. Unfortunately the guy designing, coaching and calling the plays is the same - Coach Bryan Stinespring. There are some more plays being worked on for the Wild Turkey package, but it really doesn't come down to packages this year. The talent is there to be competitive. If solid, basic plays are executed properly, PARTICULARLY on 3rd down, with an even balance of run and pass (even 55-45 in favor of the run is balanced enough) you don't have to have a lot of gimmicks. Personally, I would sell my soul to the devil if I could convince Stiney to call a well-designed play action pass on 3rd and short, and maybe we'll see that this year. The short answer to your question is - the Hokies are not overhauling the offense, they are tweaking the Wild Turkey package and any hope you have hinges on if Coach Stinespring can just do a decent enough job to get this team to 50th best in total and scoring offense in the country.
Excellent question Riggs.
So far the media is smoking some good crack. First, many of these are the same pundits that earn a paycheck from Dr. Mickey Mouse, the head of the network which will be carrying a little game in the Georgia Dome in which two very good teams will meet. It's a storied tale of two major powerhouses meeting on opening day. I can see Michael Bay directing the movie. It starts with a wide angle view of Peachtree Street... at night. In slow motion it pans across Atlanta with a jammin’ Hans Zimmer soundtrack... You get the picture: Number 5 meets number 6 on opening day of the season.
Visions of a top five or even top three team are a proverbial Mecca for these guys, and in a way, if they based it solely on returning numbers and talent of those returning numbers, they'd be right. The Hokies bring back a solid core and should do really well. Emphasis on the word, should. Our friends at FBS can tell you one of the major factors that will hold us back... I'll let them weigh in on "him."
The other thing in our favor is a very formidable schedule. Tech will play three potential top 25 teams in the first four weeks. Alabama, a top ten team, Nebraska, and Miami. Midseason, they'll face three more potential top 25 teams in BC, GT, and UNC. However, outside of the Alabama “neutral” site game, Tech faces all but ONE of their toughest matchups AT HOME. Georgia Tech will be the only real road challenge. You may be saying ECU beat us last year... but I can guarantee the Hokies won't let that happen again... not eat my hat guarantee but nonetheless a near guarantee.
With a lot of talent returning and a seemingly new found method of preparing introduced by the coaches for the Orange Bowl, the team should be ready to play well on day one. And by the above assessment, they better be.
Here are a few BIG question marks going in:
1) Tyrod Taylor. Will he be the phenom that he was supposed to be?
2) If not, how’s Ju-Ju? See below for more on this?
3) Will whoever is at QB get the protection he needs?
4) Darren Evans was phenomenal last year, but who will take second shift?
5) Stephan Virgil showed some real promise last year. He has some big shoes to fill with the loss of Victor Harris. See Question 3.
So to answer your question: Are the Hokies going to be as good as everyone says? Yes with several strong asterisks. Will they prove to be? Let's hope "he" doesn't mess it up for us.