The ACC Kickoff (aka media days) is fast approaching. I’ll be using the blog to count down to what we media members consider the unofficial start of the football season. This isn’t a list of the 25 best players on Virginia Tech’s roster. It’s a list of 25 things/people that will determine whether the Hokies’ 2012 season is a success or not. That includes players and coaches from both Virginia Tech and, occasionally, a few of its opponents.
No. 7: Beamerball
Watch the Hokies in a nationally televised game and odds are you’ll hear a half dozen references to Beamerball, a trademark of Frank Beamer‘s program that emphasizes blocking kicks and getting points on special teams and defense.
What’s rarely mentioned is that the Hokies haven’t exactly excelled in those areas in recent years.
In fact, Virginia Tech had a very un-Beamerball-like season in 2011. The Hokies blocked one punt, only the third time since 1999 they blocked fewer than three kicks in a season. Worse yet, they came close a number of times, only to get flagged for roughing the punter at inopportune times in both the ACC championship game and Sugar Bowl.
Tech also didn’t get as many non-offensive touchdowns as it’s used to either. The Hokies’ only non-offensive score came on a blocked punt recovered by Kyle Fuller in the end zone against Appalachian State. Since 1999, they hadn’t had fewer than four touchdowns in a season on special teams and defense.
The return game, despite having talented players, was equally stagnant. Jayron Hosley, when healthy, did well on punt returns with a 12.7-yard average, although he couldn’t take one to the house. But the kick return game, despite featuring David Wilson, ranked ninth in the ACC and 94th nationally with a 20.02-yard average.
With Hosley and Wilson in the NFL now, Tech will go back to the drawing board. Beamer has said the Hokies put a special emphasis this offseason on getting Beamerball back in gear this year.
Getting senior Dyrell Roberts back from injury in the kick return game will help. He’s the school’s career record holder with 1,577 kick return yards, including one touchdown. At punt return, Kyshoen Jarrett flashed some skills in the spring, returning one for a touchdown during a scrimmage. Roberts is also an option there.
Fuller, in particular, showed a knack for blocking kicks during spring practice, getting to a punt and a field goal in a pair of scrimmages. Defensively, the Hokies will try to rebound from their first season without scoring a touchdown since 1990.
For a team never known for having an explosive offense, getting points from unusual sources will be essential.
Coming Monday: Neither of these two made his biggest mark at the position he’ll play primarily this year.
- No. 25: Randall Dunn, senior tight end
- No. 24: Donaldven Manning, freshman cornerback
- No. 23: Pick a punter
- No. 22: J.C. Coleman, freshman running back
- No. 21: Georgia Tech’s option offense
- No. 20: Antoine and Derrick Hopkins, defensive tackles
- No. 19: EJ Manuel, Florida State quarterback
- No. 18: Bud Foster, defensive coordinator
- No. 17: A fourth wide receiver
- No. 16: Cody Journell, junior kicker
- No. 15: Brent Benedict and David Wang, offensive guards
- No. 14: Dyrell Roberts, senior wide receiver
- No. 13: Detrick Bonner and Kyshoen Jarrett, safeties
- No. 12: Dabo Swinney, Clemson head coach
- No. 11: Key reserves
- No. 10: Frank Beamer, head coach
- No. 9: Bruce Taylor and Tariq Edwards, inside linebackers
- No. 8: Marcus Davis, wide receiver