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Thursday, June 9, 2011
Hope and concern: Virginia Tech

By ESPN.com staff
ESPN.com

The hope and concern series continues today with Virginia Tech:

Biggest reason for hope: The schedule

The Hokies couldn’t have asked for a more favorable start to the season for rookie quarterback Logan Thomas, who will have four weeks of beatable nonconference opponents to get comfortable. The Hokies will face Appalachian State, East Carolina, Arkansas State and Marshall before hosting Clemson in the first league game. They’ve also got home-field advantage for the Miami, Boston College and North Carolina games, and they don’t have to play defending Atlantic Division champ Florida State in a crossover game. This is the kind of schedule that could catapult the Hokies into a top-10 ranking and the national title conversation if they don’t trip up during league play and voters can overlook the friendly nonconference lineup.

Biggest reason for concern: The kicking game

After a successful spring in which the revamped defensive line and rookie quarterback earned rave reviews, it’s come down to this: special teams. It’s an area that’s never been taken lightly under coach Frank Beamer, but one that’s been the most fluid, as Virginia Tech will have a new starting place-kicker for the fifth straight season and a new punter for the second straight season. Cody Journell finished the spring as the No. 1 place-kicker, but he’s not a lock, and it’s possible that senior receiver Danny Coale could double as starting punter if nobody else emerges this summer. With a first-year starting quarterback, it’s more than likely a few games will be determined by a field goal and field position.

More in this series: