Bill Dooley, Virginia Tech's new football coach, is realistic. so when he looks at this year's schedule and at his team's talent, he does not predict a rosy season.
The Gobblers' schedule might be the toughest in the school's history.
During a three-week strtch, Tech will face alabama, Kentucky and Florida State, teams with a combined 30-4 record a year ago. Many people think Alabama will be this year's national champion.
"We're looking forward to the season, but have to be realistic," Dooley said. "We aren't going to be able to do too much until we get some more good football palyers.
"We do have some good ones here now, we jsut don't have enough of them. I have to tell myself to be patient because it will take some time to build a program here."
Dooley was brought in from North Carolina, where his team was 8-2-1 last year, to be Tech's head football coach and athletic director.
The Gobblers appeared headed for the top in 1975 when they were 8-3, but hit bottom last year at 3-7-1.
The death last season of a player following a punishment drill left the program a shambles and Coach Jimmy Sharpe was fired.
Both the school and Sharpe were cleared of any negligence in the death.
Sharpe left Dooley with 55 lettermen, but they are suspect.
"The number 55 is very misleading," Dooley said. "They gave a lot of letters to people for just running down on kickoffs."
The Gobblers ran from the wishbone last year but Dooley has installed the I formation.
Much of the offense will be geared to 242-pound fullback Mickey fitzgerald. Fitzgerald started last season as a tight end and also played defensive tackle. He moved to fullback prior to the seventh game and carried the ball once for one yard. But he gained 502 yards the next four games and scored seven touchdowns.
The I is normally a tallback-oriented offense, but Dooley said it will be adapted "to fit what material we have, so it will be more fullback-oriented than usual."
The number one tallback is Kenny Lewis, a world class high hurdler.
The quarterback is returnee David Lamie. He appears to be more suited for the I than the wishbone. He is a steady short-yardage passer, is fair on the medium-range passes, but shaky on the long stuff. Tech did not throw a touchdown pass last season.
As with most positions at Tech, there is no depth at quarterback.
There seem to be more good Gobblers on defense than on offense. Defensive back Gene bunn intercepted seven passes two years ago and six last year, putting him among the nation's leaders both times. He needs only one more interception to become Tech's career leader.
The Gobblers have two fine defensive tackles in Mike Faulkner from McNamara High School and Doug McDougall.
The 247-pound Faulkner had been a two-year starter until a knee injury forced him to miss last season.
"Our tackles are a strong point for us, but there is nothing behind them," Dooley said.
"We're going to have to do some surprising-type things to be respectful this year. But we can't throw all caution to the wind."