Virginia Tech has been a model of consistency under Frank Beamer. Beamer has led the Hokies to eight straight years of double digits wins. During this run, the Hokies have won (or tied for) their half of the ACC six times. Since the inaugural ACC Championship Game in 2005, the Hokies have played in all but two of them and have won three. While FSU, Miami and Clemson are considered higher profile schools in some circles, it’s clear that the ACC is Virginia Tech’s to lose year in and year out.
Coming into 2011, Virginia Tech had some big questions as they had to replace Tyrod Taylor and also had some big numbers to replace on defense. Taylor’s replacement, Logan Thomas took a while to get settled but showed flashes of his talent that other ACC schools will not look forward to playing against in the future. The Hokies finished the season with a very “Beamer-esque” 11-3 record. They had an excellent season but couldn’t quite get over that final hump. Ultimately, it was the Clemson Tigers that stood between them and something more as two of their three losses came at the hands of the Fighting Dabo’s. We caught up with Justin of VirginiaTechFan.com to get his take on 2011 and also take a quick peak into 2012.
CFBZ: Logan Thomas had some big shoes to fill replacing Tyrod Taylor. In your opinion, how did he do?
Justin: Honestly, Logan Thomas had a tremendous season in 2011. He became our first 3000 yard passer under head coach Frank Beamer. He showed excellent command of the offense by the end of the season, he managed the game, and he even made some memorable plays when we needed him too. Really, Thomas could not have had a better year as a quarterback in 2011.
What should excite Hokie fans is that Thomas didn’t even come close to reaching his full potential in 2011. Right now, I think with a great 2012 campaign he could easily declare for the NFL and be a first round pick. He has all the intangibles you want in a quarterback. He’s intelligent, he has a strong arm, and he never gets rattled. Add in his mobility and I really think you could see him being the face of an NFL franchise in a few years. I think he has that kind of potential.
CFBZ: Clemson proved to be a thorn in the Hokies side all year long. Why couldn’t Virginia Tech beat Clemson this year?
Justin: Looking back at our two games against Clemson, the Tigers entered both games with a better gameplan. They brought their safeties in, left their corners in man coverage, and dared Virginia Tech to beat them through the air. In October, that was a daunting task for a quarterback who was playing his first ACC game, at home, against a very talented Clemson team. The Tigers did a good job taking away our biggest home run threat in David Wilson and Thomas wasn’t quite ready to be that guy who could defeat a team on his own.
As for the ACC Championship Game, that one is a little harder to figure out. Obviously, we lost Jayron Hosley on defense early on in that game and we just didn’t have anybody else on our roster who could cover Sammy Watkins. That was a fatal blow there. On offense, I thought we had an opportunity early in the game to build some momentum and overcome that first play fumble that gave Clemson the early lead. But, we sputtered and failed to establish our running game. Clemson eventually started scoring and we just couldn’t keep up. You have to give them credit, I’m not sure what they did to prepare for us but it really gave them a leg up. They were very well prepared for us both times around.
CFBZ: What is the lasting memory you will have of this season?
Justin: I think it’s hard to look at this 2011 season and call it a success but the Hokies did manage to win 11 games, keeping the nation’s longest 10-win streak intact. But, for me, the lasting memory of this season will be the final offensive play of the year where Danny Coale’s catch was overturned by some PAC 12 official who clearly hasn’t read a rule book. The real tragedy here isn’t so much the loss but that’s how Coale’s career ended. For a kid who bleeds the mantra of the lunchpail work ethic that has been established here in Blacksburg, he deserved to go out the Sugar Bowl MVP. Instead, that overturned call will forever live on in Virginia Tech football infamy.
CFBZ: David Wilson made the decision to head for the NFL. Who will replace him next year?
Justin: Honestly, I have no idea but I did write an article a few weeks back that went over the possibilities right now. The coaches love freshman Michael Holmes and from what I’ve seen of him so far, he does appear to be more of a Virginia Tech style of runner. He’s not flashy like a David Wilson or a Ryan Williams but he eats yards and can run in between the tackles. Holmes redshirted this past year but will likely head into spring practice atop the depth chart with fellow tailback Tony Gregory recovering from ACL surgery.
My personal guess is that with Shane Beamer now coaching the running backs, Tech will likely go young in 2012 and let Logan Thomas carry the load. In fact, I wouldn’t be shocked if Thomas ends up being the Hokies leading rusher in 2012.
CFBZ: Looking ahead to 2012, who are some under the radar guys that you are looking forward to seeing step up into more prominent roles?
Justin: Well, the good news is that Virginia Tech returns nine starters from a defensive unit that held Michigan under 180 yards of offense. Needless to say, Bud Foster should do a lot less screaming next year. But, there are a few new faces on defense that fellow ACC fans should probably remember. Freshman Kyshoen Jarrett only saw some limited snaps at cornerback this year but he has a very bright future ahead of him. He’ll battle with freshman James Farrow and in-coming true freshman Donaldven Manning (pronounced “Donovan”) this spring for the starting job opposite of Kyle Fuller. Also, I’ve heard very good things about defensive end Dadi Nicolas (pronounced “Doddy”). He’s out of the same high school as Brandon Flowers and David Clowney. That place is just a goldmine for us.
On offense, we only return Thomas at quarterback, our center Andrew Miller, and two wide receivers in Dyrell Roberts (broke his arm and redshirted) and Marcus Davis. So, there will be more playing time available there for some of our younger guys. As we enter Spring Practice here in six weeks, probably the name most Tech fans will talk about is JC Coleman at running back. He’s our next David Wilson type that is really more of a Noel Devine type then a Wilson type. He’s small (listed at 5’7”) but he has wheels.
Lastly, we have to replace four senior starters on the offensive line so that too will be one of the bigger question marks going forward. I am intrigued to see how Georgia transfer Brent Benedict does after sitting out last season. He’s in line to be our starter likely at right guard this season. He shredded his knee as a true freshman but if he can even get close to where he was coming out of high school, he could easily develop into one of the best offensive linemen that we’ve ever had.
Previous 2011 Exit Surveys
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