Last weekend players and coaches from the 14 football members of the ACC joined members of the media in Greensboro, N.C. for the 2013 ACC Football Kickoff.
Virginia Tech seniors Jack Tyler and Logan Thomas were chosen to represent the Hokies at the unofficial start of the season and tasked with the monumental responsibility of shifting the focus from the letdown that was 2012 to the prospect of what could be in 2013.
The media picked the Hokies to finish second in the Coastal Division, behind rival Miami. The Clemson Tigers were a heavy favorite to win both the Atlantic division and the conference — of the 120 media members that voted, 95 picked Clemson as their ACC champion.
The most popular ACC Championship game scenario, which received 55 votes, was Clemson beating Miami. Next on the list was Clemson over Virginia Tech with 19 votes, followed by Clemson over North Carolina with 18 votes. Clemson quarterback Tajh Boyd was also the runaway favorite to win ACC player of the year, as he received 105 votes.
On Wednesday morning the preseason All-ACC team was released — Tyler was the only Hokie to receive honors, although several others came close.
Defensive end James Gayle, cornerback Antone Exum and safety Kyshoen Jarrett all finished one spot shy of being named to the team in the voting.
No Time to Waste
Stumbling out of the gates — something Virginia Tech fans have grown accustom to over the years — will lead to nothing but embarrassment this season as the Hokies face the twice-reigning champion Alabama Crimson Tide in Atlanta, Georgia on Aug. 31.
Despite coming off their worst season in 20 years, it would seem as though the Hokies aren't backing down from the challenge.
“Expectations are always high,” Tyler said. “Our expectations are always to win 10, 11, 12 games a season. We expect to beat teams like Alabama. Some teams may go into that game thinking, ‘If we lose, we will win next week.’ No, we expect to beat them. We expect to win every game, that’s just how our program is run.”
Thomas, the redshirt-senior quarterback who had the worst season of his career in 2012 echoed his teammates’ remark.
“Starting the season with 'Bama is always going to be a fun one no matter who you are because they are the best team in the country back-to-back years,” he said. “It’s the barometer now. That’s the level everyone wants to be at.
“We’ve been dominate in the ACC and they’ve been dominant in the nation. It’s a good test.”
The team's newly-rebuilt offense — led by offensive coordinator Scot Loeffler — will be put to the test quickly against the nation's top defense.
“The bottom line is, you can execute what you got,” said Frank Beamer, head coach. “You better make sure you can execute it against Alabama. Alabama can make you look bad in a hurry if you don’t know what you’re doing.”
Beamer believes the team will benefit either way, no matter the outcome of the game.
“I think what happens with Alabama, I think your football program is better,” Beamer said. “I think your summer workouts are better. Preseason practices are better. And regardless of how that game turns out, I think your program’s better.
Who’s getting the ball?