The Virginia Tech spring game gets underway at 3 p.m. ET on Saturday; the contest will be streamed live on ESPN3 and can be heard locally on 103.5 FM. One of the focal points will be the performance of the first-string offense, which is a unit coming off a rough year -- so rough that it prompted a change at offensive coordinator. How that group sorts itself out will be a key to the season.
While the return of quarterback Logan Thomas provides stability in an important place, the Hokies have to replace a chunk of their offensive line and they lost their top three receivers from a season ago. Thomas will need to be more consistent as a result -- he struggled at times with both his accuracy and decision making in 2012. This season, Virginia Tech will have to overcome inexperience from a wide receiving corps that includes redshirt freshmen Joel Caleb and Joshua Stanford as well as sophomores Demitri Knowles and Kevin Asante. Knowles, who finished last season with 240 yards on 19 receptions, is the team's leading returning pass catcher.
The offensive line will also bear watching. In the Hokies' last scrimmage, OL coach Jeff Grimes was less than pleased about their performance:
Jeff Grimes got so flustered by the 1st team offensive line, he made them do a bunch of up and downs in their own end zone while the 2nd team offense were on the field. Grimes were very animated today, getting into linemen's faces and holding them accountable.
There are fewer questions on the defensive side of the ball; leading tackler Jack Tyler returns, though he was shaken up in a recent scrimmage. Four of their top five leaders in tackles for loss are back, including defensive end James Gayle, who was second on the Hokies with five sacks a year ago.
The Hokies finished 2012 ranked 18th in total defense, and that should once again be a team strength, as it so often has been during Frank Beamer's tenure in Blacksburg. Despite that effort, though, Virginia Tech fell well short of expectations last season, struggling just to reach bowl eligibility. Can Logan Thomas and the rest of the offense improve enough to put the program back on top of the Coastal Division? That remains to be seen.