Hokies in unusual position: Looking up

It might be hard to process this, but … Virginia Tech isn’t the prohibitive favorite to win the ACC this fall.

Yep, it’s true. The media has nominated Florida State as its preseason pick to win the conference.

For the record, Frank Beamer seconds the motion.

“I’d vote for them, too,” said Beamer, whose Hokies, it must be noted, were the pick of the writers and broadcasters who cover the ACC to win the ACC Coastal in 2011.

The issue, to Beamer, is the change at quarterback, where Logan Thomas takes over for Tyrod Taylor. Of course, FSU will undergo its own change at QB, with E.J. Manuel taking over for first-round NFL draft pick Christian Ponder.

The key difference between the two situations: Manuel has been battle-tested, starting six games in two seasons, including last year’s ACC Championship Game against Virginia Tech, subbing for the oft-injured Ponder.

“Their guy has been in some games and played through games and has some experiences. So they have some advantages there,” Beamer said. “Anytime you start with a quarterback, that’s a critical position on your football team, and how that position plays is critical. I think it’s going to be fine, but we’ll see together.”

Beamer also has to make changes at punter and placekicker, and feels like his vaunted Hokie defense has some proving to do after a less-than-stellar 2010.

“We gave up too many big plays last year. I think we’re going to be better, but we need to go out and do that,” said Beamer, who all in all feels his Hokies have “some real question marks there that need to be answered.”

Not that he worries about Thomas, a 6-6, 245-pound sophomore whose physical skills have some in Blacksburg making comparisons to Heisman Trophy winner Cam Newton.

Beamer doesn’t want Thomas to have to carry the load the way Newton did for national-champ Auburn last year.

“Having people around him where he doesn’t have to carry the load, he’s got people to get the ball and let them do their thing, I think that’s the best thing for Logan Thomas. And to have an offensive line that gets you that extra little bit of time to throw the football and opens up some running lanes to get your running game going,” Beamer said.

Reporting and videos by Chris Graham. Contact Chris at augustafreepress2@gmail.com.

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