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2012 ACC Previews: Virginia Tech with Gobbler Country

We’re previewing the college football season with help from SBNation.com. Today, Chris Hatcher from Gobbler Country talks Virginia Tech.

VT has been the ACC’s only “elite” program (Top 10 rankings, multiple championships, multiple BCS appearances) since the conference expanded to 12 teams. The Hokies look to extend their FBS-leading eight-year streak of 10+ wins by navigating a schedule that includes road trips to UNC and Clemson. A Thursday night home matchup with Florida State in November may be a preview of the ACC title game.

2011 Record: 11-3

2011 Bowl: Sugar Bowl vs. Michigan, 20-23 (OT)

2012 Bowl Projections:

Q&A with Chris Hatcher from Gobbler Country

Describe the 2011 season in two words.

Clemson again!?

How much should we expect from Logan Thomas in year two, given all the new offensive starters around him?

I think we should expect the same or better from Logan Thomas in 2012. Granted he did lose a lot of skill position talent offensively and four starters along the offensive line, but keep in mind that 2011 was not only his first year as a starter, but also his first significant playing time. His development showed in the second half of the season when he became the best offensive player and probably the best quarterback in the conference. He will likely have an expanded role, and the Hokies will rely on the pass more heavily. He will also get a greater number of carries. Also, while he loses a lot of talent in the receiving core and on the offensive line, the top-4 receivers are seniors, three of which have significant experience, and two of the new starters along the offensive line are also seniors, including one who was slated to start in 2010 before an injury limited him.

On paper, what looks like the toughest game this season?

I know I'm going to get crucified by Florida State fans here, but I'm going to say on the road at Clemson on Oct. 20 for a number of reasons. Just look at Tech's games against a year ago. They were 11-0 in games not against Clemson or a highly controversial overturned touchdown catch. The point is, Clemson had our number. But look at what Clemson did the rest of the way. Yeah, they had an impressive early record, but by midseason, they came apart in typical Clemson fashion, almost losing out on the opportunity to represent the Atlantic Division in the ACC Championship Game. And then, after beating the Hokies soundly in said conference title game, they were walloped by a team they were probably at least on level terms with talent wise in the Orange Bowl.

No one team struggled with Clemson the way the Hokies did, and I think that is telling. Clemson knows how to capitalize on the mismatches they create with the Hokies, and so far Tech doesn't seem to have any answers, though they are likely the superior team. As for Florida State, they are coming to Lane Stadium for a Thursday night game, and once again they've been picked in the Top-10 despite not finishing there since the early-2000's. I think they'll fail to meet expectations again in 2012. They may have more overall talent than the Hokies, but I'd go with the team with a raucous home-field. If Florida State wins, they're the better team. If Clemson beats the Hokies, I'm still not so sure that's the case.

Given VT’s run of success in the ACC, is winning the Coastal division now a baseline expectation among fans? What constitutes an “off” year for a Frank Beamer team?

Absolutely, I think you hit the nail right on the head. Any year where the Hokies fail to win the Coastal Division is an off year. Winning the Coastal Division is the baseline expectations for Hokie fans. Beyond that, fans want to keep the 10-win seasons going, win the ACC Championship, go to a BCS Bowl, win a BCS Bowl and win a National Championship in that order of realism.

Best case/worst case scenario for the postseason.

I think the best case scenario would be the Hokies win the ACC and a BCS Bowl. If they keep healthy (knock on wood) I think they have an opportunity to do that. Despite not being a sexy team, I like the makeup of the roster and am as confident about the team as a whole as I have been of any of the last ten years. The worst case scenario would involve any injury to Logan Thomas (knocking on wood SO hard). It would be accurate to say as Logan Thomas goes, so goes Virginia Tech in 2012. That scenario would probably have us flirting with our 10-win streak and very little chance of winning the ACC title or any kind of major bowl.

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