This is the second of two posts debating the Hokies' ability to Raise the Crystal in 2010. Read Part One here.
Hokie fans have plenty of reasons to be optimistic about the 2010 season. We have a loaded backfield, a senior quarterback and a couple of key leaders on defense. If things go the Hokies' way, there's a chance they'll have a shot at the national title at season's end.
But while there are plenty of reasons to be optimistic about a national championship, I don't think it's in the cards for Frank Beamer and Virginia Tech this year.
First, the odds (and schedule) are against the Hokies. Virginia Tech isn't among the elite teams that can afford to drop a game and still make it to the BCSCG. In order to get there it will have to go undefeated and I don't see that happening.
It starts with the Boise State game in Washington, DC. It was a game that was originally scheduled for Oct. 2 and I game I felt fairly confident about. It would give the new offensive linemen and new defensive players time to adjust to playing every down at D1 speed and get on the same page.
However, opening against the Broncos is a trap game for the Hokies. They showed up for a season opener against East Carolina in 2008 with a lot of new starters and got beat. And this Boise State team is a lot better than that ECU team. They'll be able to take advantage of the Hokies' young defense, especially if they're unable to get pressure on Kellen Moore.
Tech also has a tough road ahead of it in conference play. Its conference road games are Boston College, NC State, North Carolina and Miami. The Hokies don't have good luck in Chestnut Hill, NC State's crowd is always loud and will be ready for them and the Tar Heels and Hurricanes are contenders for the division.
The game against the Canes will be tough because it comes at the end of a string of tough games and Jacory Harris and company play well at home.
On offense, the Hokies have the body of sports car, but might have the engine of a Yugo. Tyrod Taylor, Ryan Williams and Darren Evans could take a lot of teams to the national title. But if the offensive line falls apart, they will do just as well as Cullen Harper, CJ Spiller and James Davis did for Clemson in 2008.
Tech will start a sophomore at left tackle who has played only 46 college snaps and seven more on special teams. That's scary considering the Hokies have allowed sacks at an alarming rate the last two years.
The defense has to replace six starters and may be without a seventh (Barquell Rivers) when it lines up against the Broncos. The defense will need time to mature and it may not happen until after the Hokies have lost a game or two.
Finally, every team faces injuries throughout the season. Last year, Alabama lost a key linebacker, Dont'a Hightower, in September, but had enough depth that they were able to get through the year unscathed and claim their 322nd national title. The Hokies don't have the same luxury. They're very thin and very young at key positions and positions that suffer a lot of attrition.
All it takes is one injury at a key spot and the Hokies' national and conference title hopes could be shot.
This will be far from a down-year for Tech, but I don't think we have what it takes on the roster for it to be a truly special year. I still have my sights set on winning the ACC and returning to the Orange Bowl, but I think there are enough factors going against the Hokies to think the BCSCG is nothing but a pipe dream.