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25 VIRGINIA TECH

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The case for

The headliner on offense, senior quarterback Logan Thomas, returns to help the Hokies put a sorry 2012 campaign behind them. Though Thomas struggled last fall (18 touchdowns, 16 interceptions and an eight-plus-point drop in completion percentage), his dual-threat production as a sophomore reflected his potential. To get back on track, Thomas has spent the off-season working with coordinator Scot Loeffler, one of three offensive coaches brought on by Frank Beamer to kick-start the attack. The rushing game, which was bland in 2012, should find new life with highly touted redshirt freshman Trey Edmunds, who joins J.C. Coleman (492 yards, 2 TDs) in the backfield.

The defense came alive late last season, holding opponents to an average of 15.7 points in the final three games, all victories. The entire line returns, including 6'4", 253-pound shutdown end James Gayle (43 tackles, 16 sacks). In all, the unit brings back nine starters.

The case against

Virginia Tech's 7--6 record in 2012 was Beamer's worst in 20 years with the Hokies. The running game—historically a strength—was a nonfactor, and there's no guarantee that the new coaches can retool an attack with so little experience on offense.

Coach Speak

FRANK BEAMER

• SI

Your 7--6 record in 2012 was your worst in two decades. What went wrong?

• FB

We had some unusual things happen to us. But when we were sitting at 4--6 and nobody was saying anything good about a team that's won 10 games for eight straight years, that team could have folded. It didn't. To me there are things to draw from that, life lessons.

• SI

Logan Thomas experienced a drop in production. What problems did you see in his game?

• FB

We were in too many third-and-10 situations. Those are hard. Logan really takes it upon himself to make plays. But he's a mature guy, and he'll learn from last year.

• SI

Why the offensive coaching changes?

• FB

I felt like we needed something different, a different feeling. We needed to be more consistent with how we run the football and take care of it.

• SI

You open with Alabama. How do you prepare?

• FB

By playing Alabama, summer workouts and preseason practices are better. Regardless of how the game turns out, I think your program is better. For me it's a tremendous opportunity.

Player to Watch

All-ACC corner Atone Exum is rehabbing a torn right ACL, which creates an opportunity for Kendall Fuller, Tech's top recruit in 2013. The 6-foot 193-pounder is the fourth Fuller in Blacksburg: Kyle is a senior cornerback, while Vincent and Corey are in the NFL.

PHOTO

DOUGLAS JONES/USA TODAY SPORTS (THOMAS)

Logan Thomas

PHOTO

STREETER LECKA/GETTY IMAGES (BEAMER)

CHART

Projected 2013 Stats

BY ROTOWIRE.COM

QB Logan Thomas

Pass: 2,715 yards, 18 TDs

Run: 430 yards, 9 TDs

RB Trey Edmunds

Run: 790 yards, 7 TDs

Rec.: 80 yards, 0 TDs

WR Demitri Knowles

Rec.: 675 yards, 6 TDs

Kick Ret.: 1 TD

Schedule Analysis

It doesn't get any tougher than the Hokies' opener: two-time national champion and preseason No. 1 Alabama in Atlanta. Virginia Tech must hit the road to play Miami on Nov. 9, but it avoids Clemson and Florida State in cross-divisional play, a boon for an ACC program hoping to bounce back.

SI Power Ratings

BY ROTOWIRE.COM

[The following text appears within a chart. Please see hardcopy or PDF for actual chart.]

PERCENTILE

1

50

100

OFFENSE

75

DEFENSE

25

SPECIAL TEAMS

88