COLLEGE FOOTBALL PREVIEW

Virginia Tech Hokies 2011 season preview

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Don't forget to catch Tim Brant's College Football Preview this Friday night at 9 on ABC7.

Beamer's Hokies head into 2011 as the defending ACC champions. (Photo: Associated Press)

2011 College Football Preview Schedule:
Maryland: Aug. 30
Virginia Tech: Aug. 31
Virginia: Sept. 1
FCS schools: Sept. 2

Head coach: Frank Beamer, 25th year at Virginia Tech
2010 record: 11-3 overall, 8-0 in the ACC, 1st in the ACC Coastal Division
Defeated Florida State 44-33 in ACC Championship Game
2010 bowl game: Lost to Stanford 40-12 in Orange Bowl
2011 returning starters: 7 offensive, 5 defensive
2011 ACC media poll prediction: 1st in the ACC Coastal

(AP, WJLA) Every day, Shane Beamer thinks about the night he could have won a national championship with Virginia Tech.

The son of Hokies coach Frank Beamer was the long snapper during the 1999 season when the Michael Vick-led Hokies played Florida State in the Sugar Bowl for the national championship.

"I was on the field in New Orleans that night when we gave up two touchdowns, on a blocked punt and a return punt for a touchdown," he said with a sigh. "We'd been good on special teams all year long, and to be on the field and give up two touchdowns, that sticks with you.

"There's probably not a day that has gone by in the last 11 years when I haven't thought about that night. ... You get that close, it's tough and so you want to get back and win it."

Beamer spent those 11 seasons as an assistant coach before joining his father's staff as running backs coach in the offseason.

Frank Beamer said the timing was right to bring his son back and he hopes Shane's recruiting skills will boost the Hokies after some recent losses in the fight for blue-chip talent.

Shane has another agenda, too — to help his father win a national championship.

2011 may be one of Virginia Tech’s best chances to bring a BCS title to Blacksburg. Projected as one of the favorites to win the ACC Championship, the Hokies have their sights set on a trip to New Orleans for the national championship game this January.

This season, though, the Hokies must be dead-set on avoiding the early-season stumbles they encountered in 2010.

Last year, Virginia Tech lost to Boise State in Landover in a nationally-televised season opener, then went home to Blacksburg and dropped a 21-16 decision to lower-division James Madison. The Hokies rattled off 11 straight wins after that, but the 0-2 start derailed any national championship implications they had.

It doesn’t get much easier for the Hokies this September. They open against Appalachian State, a powerhouse from the lower Football Championship Subdivision that’s famous for beating Michigan in Ann Arbor in 2007. They then hit the road for a game at Conference USA contender East Carolina the next week. The Hokies lost to the Pirates on the road in 2008.

Despite the loss of dual-threat quarterback Tyrod Taylor to the NFL and several talented members of what’s traditionally one of the most stout defenses in the conference, the Hokies are still loaded with top talent.

They’ll be led under center this season by sophomore Logan Thomas, a 6’6” quarterback who has drawn comparisons to former Auburn QB Cam Newton, who won the Heisman Trophy last season and was the 1st overall pick in the 2011 NFL Draft.

Thomas will have a corps of experienced and talented wide receivers to throw to, as the Hokies top five receivers from 2010 return. They’re led by Jarrett Boykin and Danny Coale, who combined for 1,579 receiving yards and nine touchdowns last season.

On the ground, David Wilson is the Hokies leading returning rusher. He ran for 642 yards and five touchdowns in Virginia Tech’s explosive running attack last season and is expected to step in and carry the load after the departure of Darren Evans and Ryan Williams.

Five starters return to a defense that gave up more than 16 points per game for the first time in half a decade. Injuries and inexperience tripped Virginia Tech up early in the season, but several experienced linebackers, such as Jeron Gouveia-Winslow and Bruce Taylor, are expected to take the lead in 2011.

The hallmark of Frank Beamer’s teams have always been special teams. The Hokies always have had solid kicking and punting games, and they block punts like clockwork.

After the jump, check out Virginia Tech’s 2011 schedule and its projected starters.

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