Virginia Tech QB Logan Thomas
EDITOR'S NOTE: This is the eighth in a series of previews on West Virginia and Marshall football opponents.Date with Marshall: Saturday, Sept. 21 (TV TBA)Site: Lane Stadium (65,632, Bermuda grass), Blacksburg, Va.Series: Virginia Tech leads 9-2Last meeting: Virginia Tech 30, Marshall 10, Sept. 24, 2011, HuntingtonCoach: Frank Beamer (33rd season overall, 258-127-4; 27th season at Virginia Tech, 216-104-2)
Checking them outMarshall plays its fifth game against the Hokies since 2002, and the previous four have been rump-roastings. Tech has outscored the Herd 168-55 in those games, including a 30-10 margin two years ago in Huntington.This will be the fourth game for both teams, and Beamer will have a good idea how his new coaching staff is performing. Longtime offensive coordinator Bryan Stinespring moved to recruiting coordinator while also mentoring tight ends, and the rest of the staff was replaced. The offensive coordinator is Scot Loeffler, who has served in that capacity at Temple and Auburn.Loeffler may have a ways to go. The spring game featured two defensive touchdowns, not a great sign with Alabama looming in the season opener.With second-team All-ACC pick Logan Thomas at quarterback, it's tough to understand why the Hokies only averaged 25.1 points and 376.8 yards per game. Thomas has NFL-type skills with a gun for an arm, but imploded at times in big games. Improving his 51 percent completion rate will be a major project for Loeffler.The Hokies ran by committee last year, so much that Logan netted the most yards (524) and most TDs (nine). J.C. Coleman led that committee and should lead it again - and that group became one person lighter with the university's expulsion of Michael Holmes. Trey Edmunds is the No. 2. All those runners averaged just 3.7 yards per carry, but a visit from Marshall usually cures what ails the Hokies in that area.
Defensively, coordinator Bud Foster is going nowhere, as he enters his 27th year on the staff. His troops, however, won't stay in the same place on the field, and that side will be the Hokies' strength. Again.Defensive end James Gayle (11 tackles for loss, five sacks) isn't settling for all-conference honors, winning Super Iron Hokie honors in the weight room and defensive player of the spring. Inside linebacker Tariq Edwards returns after losing much of 2012 to an injury, and plays beside Jack Turner. The secondary was to have a dominating corner duo of Kyle Fuller and Antone Exum, but Exum ripped an ACL and lateral meniscus in January.Cody Journell missed a 37-yard field goal at Marshall in 2011, but has turned into a top-flight kicker since. He made three game-winners last year.
All-conference candidatesOffense: QB Logan Thomas, C Andrew MillerDefense: DE James Gayle, DT Derrick Hopkins, LB Tariq Edwards, LB Jack Tyler, CB Kyle FullerSpecial teams: PR Kyshoen Garrett, K Cody Journell
NotesBill Roth, radio play-by-play voice of the Hokies, was inducted into the Virginia Sports Hall of Fame in April. He spent a short but memorable one-season stint, 1987-88, at Marshall. ... After playing Marshall, Tech jumps into ACC play on a short week, playing Georgia Tech in Atlanta on Thursday, Sept. 26.
2013 scheduleAug. 31 Alabama (at Atlanta) DNPSept. 7 Western Carolina DNPSept. 14 at East Carolina DNPSept. 21 Marshall DNPSept. 26 at Georgia Tech* W 20-17 (OT)Oct. 5 North Carolina* L 34-48Oct. 12 Pittsburgh* L 17-35Oct. 26 Duke* W 41-20Nov. 2 at Boston College* W 30-23 (OT)Nov. 9 at Miami* L 12-30Nov. 16 Maryland* DNPNov. 30 at Virginia* W 17-14* Atlantic Coast Conference games2012 record: 7-6 (4-4 ACC, T-4th Coastal Division, defeated Rutgers 13-10 (OT) in Russell Athletic Bowl, Orlando)Dropped: Austin Peay (W, 42-7), Bowling Green (W, 37-0), Cincinnati (L, 24-27), Clemson (L, 17-38), Florida State (L, 22-28)