Stat heads tend to be bullish on the Hokies, especially after last year when Tech had one of the seventh-most efficient offense in college football according to FO's rankings. They predict the Hokies to have one of the better offenses in the country again, but think Tech's ability to compete for a national title will depend on Bud Foster's ability to fill holes on defense.
The Tech defense has consistently been able to overcome heavy losses due in part to its ability to be flexible and adapt to the strengths of its players. This year will be no different as the Hokies may have to play for the pass more because of the losses of their best pass rushers. Here's what FO had to say about that:
Beamer and Foster are partially responsible for the rise of the spread, which grew in part to counter the vicious eight-man fronts and press coverages the Hokies mastered. Very quietly, Virginia Tech overhauled its scheme to drop the eighth defender in the box (or "rover" in Hokie parlance) back to play a Cover-4 look -- and it still manages to field consistent top 20 defenses.
I'll have more on this concept as we get closer to the season.
We've seen guys in Vegas bearish the Hokies chances for 2010. These are people who look more at trends and scouting reports. Stat heads who are high on Tech tend to look at things more in a vacuum. That's why I think Tech's season will be somewhere in the middle. We have a tough schedule, will have some defensive struggles early and will have to get very lucky with injuries, unlike last season.
Talent and coaching tell me we have a chance, but schedule and depth tell me not to be overly optimistic.