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Top 25 Athlon Team Previews: Virginia Tech Hokies

2009 Record: 10-3 (6-2 in ACC)
Head Coach: Frank Beamer
Ryan Williams :: Lee Coleman/Icon SMI
2010 Schedule
Sept. 6Boise State (Landover, Md.)
Sept. 11James Madison
Sept. 18East Carolina
Sept. 25at Boston College
Oct. 2at NC State
Oct. 9Central Michigan
Oct. 16Wake Forest
Oct. 23Duke
Nov. 4Georgia Tech
Nov. 13at North Carolina
Nov. 20at Miami
Nov. 27Virginia
2009 Results
Sept. 5vs. AlabamaL24-34
Sept. 12MarshallW52-10
Sept. 19NebraskaW16-15
Sept. 26MiamiW31- 7
Oct. 3at DukeW34-26
Oct. 10Boston CollegeW48-14
Oct. 17at Georgia TechL23-28
Oct. 29North CarolinaL17-20
Nov. 5at East CarolinaW16- 3
Nov. 14at MarylandW36- 9
Nov. 21NC StateW38-10
Nov. 28at VirginiaW42-13
Dec. 31Tennessee (Chick-fil-A Bowl)W37-14
2009 Rankings
OFFENSEPER GAMEACCNAT'L
Scoring31.9 ppg224
Rushing208.2 ypg214
Passing183.9 ypg995
Total392.1 ypg650
DEFENSEPER GAMEACCNAT'L
Scoring15.6 ppg19
Rushing128.4 ypg440
Passing167.1 ypg211
Total295.5 ypg212
TO MARGINPER GAMEACCNAT'L
+9+0.69113
2010 Projected Rosters
OFFENSE
WRJarrett Boykin (Jr.)Marcus Davis (So.)
WRDanny Coale (Jr.)Dyrell Roberts (Jr.)
LTNick Becton (So.)Laurence Gibson (Fr.)
LGGreg Nosal (Jr.)David Wang (Fr.)
CBeau Warren (Sr.)Michael Via (So.)
RGJaymes Brooks (Jr.)Vinston Painter (So.)
RTBlake DeChristopher (Jr.)Andrew Lanier (Jr.)
TEAndre Smith (Sr.)Prince Parker (Sr.)
QBTyrod Taylor (Sr.)Logan Thomas (Fr.)
FBKenny Younger (Sr.)Josh Oglesby (Jr.)
TBRyan Williams (So.)Darren Evans (Jr.)
DEFENSE
DESteven Friday (Sr.)J.R. Collins (Fr.)
DTKwamaine Battle (Jr.)Antoine Hopkins (So.)
DTJohn Graves (Sr.)Antoine Hopkins (So.)
DEChris Drager (Jr.)James Gayle (Fr.)
OLBJeron Gouveia-Winslow (So.)Alonzo Tweedy (So.)
ILBLyndell Gibson (So.)Tariq Edwards (Fr.)
ILBBarquell Rivers (Jr.)Bruce Taylor (So.)
CBJayron Hosley (So.)Cris Hill (Jr.)
CBRashad Carmichael (Sr.)Cris Hill (Jr.)
SSDavon Morgan (Sr.)James Hopper (Fr.)
FSEddie Whitley (Jr.)Antone Exum (Fr.)
SPECIAL TEAMS
1Chris Hazley (Sr.)KRDyrell Roberts (Jr.)
1Brian Saunders (Sr.)PRJayron Hosley (So.)
RETURNING LEADERS
Passing: Tyrod Taylor (2,311 yards, 13 TDs)
Rushing: Ryan Williams (293 car, 1,655 yds, 21 TDs)
Receiving: Jarrett Boykin (40 rec, 835 yds, 5 TDs)
Tackles: Barquell Rivers (96, 34 solo)
Sacks: Steven Friday (3.5)
Interceptions: Rashad Carmichael (6 for 71 yds)
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PLAYERS TO WATCH

Ryan Williams, RB: He ranked fifth nationally with 127.3 rushing yards per game as a freshman last season.

Tyrod Taylor, QB: The third-year starter is coming off a season in which he proved to be a capable passer.

Rashad Carmichael, CB: The big-play corner could bring composure to a young defense.

IMPORTANT LOSSES

Ed Wang, LT: The key role of protecting Taylor will have to be filled by a youngster.

Cody Grimm, OLB: The playmaker forced seven fumbles last season.

Jason Worilds, DE: Career numbers: 34 tackles for a loss, 15 sacks, 67 QB hurries.

NUMBERS GAME

6: The Hokies have finished the past six seasons ranked in at least the top 12 nationally in both total and scoring defense. They were 12th in total defense and ninth in scoring defense last season.

OFFENSE

Once a cause for concern in Blacksburg, Virginia Tech's offense improved last season. The Hokies ranked 50th nationally with 392.1 yards per game, their most since 2003. They had 28 passes of 25 yards or longer and 29 runs of 20 yards or longer, compared to 19 such passes and 21 such runs in 2008, when they played 14 games, one more than they played last season.

Tech fans have much to like about the offense, which returns every starter except left guard, left tackle, tight end and fullback, a rarely used position.

Senior Tyrod Taylor is back for his third season as the starting quarterback. His top three receivers -- Jarrett Boykin, Dyrell Roberts and Danny Coale -- are all juniors. And sophomore Ryan Williams is coming off a season in which he broke the school rushing record.

Experienced backups Greg Nosal and Andre Smith step in at left guard and tight end, respectively, leaving sophomore left tackle Nick Becton as the biggest question.

DEFENSE

One day near the end of spring practices, defensive line coach Charley Wiles' voice sounded as though he had been gargling rock salt. That's what a spring's worth of loudly coaching young players will do to you. "We've got a long way to go," Wiles said.

He lost three of his four starting linemen and his top backup tackle. He feels OK about his new ends, senior Steven Friday and junior Chris Drager. But end Jason Worilds' early departure for the NFL left Wiles searching for depth this spring. At tackle, third-year starter John Graves is one of the defense's senior leaders. Snaps at the other tackle spot figure to be split between junior Kwamaine Battle and sophomore Antoine Hopkins.

The defense lost five other starters in addition to the linemen. Perhaps the toughest to replace will be Cody Grimm at outside linebacker. Competition between sophomores Jeron Gouveia-Winslow (No. 1 coming out of spring) and Alonzo Tweedy figure to continue through August. Neither saw significant action last season.

Senior cornerback Rashad Carmichael led the Hokies with six interceptions in 2009 and could be poised for a breakout season.

SPECIALISTS

Senior Brian Saunders replaces Brent Bowden at punter. The kicking situation was less certain in the spring. Fifth-year senior Chris Hazley emerged atop the depth chart, beating out junior Justin Myer, who handled kickoffs as a freshman and sophomore. This is the fourth consecutive season Tech has had a new kicker. The previous three also were fifth-year seniors.

FINAL ANALYSIS

Tech didn't play for the ACC Championship last season but did beat Tennessee in the Chick-fil-A Bowl to earn its sixth consecutive 10-win season. To build on that, the Hokies must plug the holes on defense. It hasn't been that long since coordinator Bud Foster needed to replace this kind of talent; he lost seven starters after the 2007 season. But he has said this might be a bigger rebuilding job.

Might this mean that Tech's offense has to carry the load early while the defense finds its identity? Time was, that would have been an outlandish thought in Blacksburg. Now, it could be coach Frank Beamer's reality.

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