Throughout this offseason, many college football experts have been quick to anoint Florida State the favorite in the ACC this year, and the preseason media poll conducted during the ACC football kickoff a few days ago only confirmed that. Reporters in Pinehurst, N.C., believe Florida State will avenge its loss to Virginia Tech in last year’s ACC championship game and earn the conference’s BCS bowl bid.
But while players such as safety Eddie Whitley got defiant when asked about the Seminoles — “Florida State can say what they want, but we have [the] ring,” he said — Virginia Tech Coach Frank Beamer took a different tack.
“I’d pick them, too,” said Beamer, after a reporter mentioned the preseason poll.
Why — other than the fact that he probably wants to ratchet down early-season expectations — would Beamer concede such a thing? Well, Beamer’s concerns are three-fold.
1) New quarterback Logan Thomas has yet to start an actual game under center.
“I think when you start out with a new quarterback — even though I think Logan is gonna be fine — their guy [Seminoles junior E.J. Manuel] has been in some games and has some experience, so I think he has some advantages there,” Beamer said. “But I think any time you start with a quarterback, that’s a critical position in your football team, and how that position plays is critical. I think he’s gonna be fine, but we’ll see together.”
2) Other than creating turnovers, the Hokies’ defense wasn’t very good last year.
“We gave up too many long plays last year,” Beamer said. “I think we’re gonna be better, but we need to go out there and do that. Take care of our assignments and play the type of defense we’re used to playing.
3) Virginia Tech is debuting a new place kicker (redshirt sophomore Cody Journell), and still isn’t sure who will punt this season.
“When you talk about two kickers, I think you’ve got some critical question marks, and right now we’re not sure who the punter is gonna be,” Beamer said. “The only thing we know is people will not return punts against us because we don’t know where it’s going, they don’t know where it’s going. There’s not a chance in the world guys can return punts against us. That’s the only good I see out of it.”
To Beamer, those three facets of the game confirm that heading into fall camp, the Hokies have “some real question marks in there that have to be answered.”
More personnel notes
Beamer once again reiterated that wide receiver Danny Coale will get a legitimate opportunity at being the team’s punter this season. Beamer said unless Ethan Keyserling and Scott Demler don’t show they are better than Coale, he is inclined to go with a player who has started 40 games during his career.
“Danny, if everything stayed equal, I’m going to go with the guy that’s been in pressure situations, has been in the big ballgames and is kind of used to the heat you’ve got back there,” Beamer said. “The tough thing is [Coale] being in there in third down and then coming in and punting. That’s a little bit of a question right there.”. . .
Beamer said the team is still considering whether or not to have running back David Wilson return kickoffs again now that he’ll be the full-time starter in the backfield this season.
Wilson averaged 26.5 yards and scored two touchdowns on kickoff returns in 2010, and Beamer realizes that “he’s such a threat any time you put him in open spaces — and you kind of get some open spaces there”on kickoff returns. . . .
Beamer said Ashburn native Jeron Gouveia-Winslow is the No. 1 whip linebacker right now, even though position coach Cornell Brown hinted this spring that Gouveia-Winslow may split time with junior Alonzo Tweedy at the position. . . .
Beamer said Washington native Ricardo Young will be given a chance to compete with redshirt junior JuJu Clayton and redshirt freshman Mark Leal for the backup quarterback job behind Thomas. Young, a redshirt freshman from H.D. Woodson High, missed most of spring practice after suffering a foot injury in the first spring scrimmage.