Outlook Schedule on hokiesports.com:
General OutlookWednesday, July 12
Offensive LineFriday, July 14
Wide Receivers/Tight EndsMonday, July 17
Tailbacks/Fullbacks/QuarterbacksWednesday, July 19
Defensive LineFriday, July 21
LinebackersMonday, July 24
SecondaryWednesday, July 26
SpecialistsFriday, July 28
The 2006 Season Outlook

The first in an eight-part series previewing Tech's 2006 season
July 12, 2006

BLACKSBURG - The following is the first in an eight-part series previewing the 2006 Virginia Tech football team. The Hokies open fall practice on Friday, Aug. 4 in preparation for their season opener at home against Northeastern on Saturday, Sept. 2.

Today's portion of the outlook for 2006 takes a quick look at the team overall before focusing on the offense in general and the quarterback position specifically.

Check back every Monday, Wednesday and Friday for a breakdown on each component of this year's team. A complete list of the breakdown and release dates follows:

Gone from last year's team are a number of key figures, including first-team All-ACC picks Jimmy Williams (cb), Darryl Tapp (de), Marcus Vick (qb), Will Montgomery (c) and Jason Murphy (og). Second-team all-conference picks Jonathan Lewis (dt), Jeff King (te) and Jimmy Martin (ot) are also gone, along with linebacker James Anderson, safety Justin Hamilton, defensive tackle Tim Sandidge and tailback Cedric Humes. All 12 of those players began the summer in NFL camps.Work To Be Done
When preseason practice opens, the key goals for head coach Frank Beamer and his staff will include naming a starting quarterback as quickly as possible, settling on a tight end and developing depth along the offensive and defensive lines and at linebacker.

There are still some decisions to be made on the offensive line, where plenty of attention will be paid to the progress of true freshmen Sergio Render and Aaron Brown, redshirt sophomore Nick Marshman, redshirt junior Matt Welsh and senior Brandon Gore. Gore suffered a broken ankle in the Florida State game and missed spring practice.

Key names in the efforts to add depth up front on defense will be redshirt freshman tackles Cordarrow Thompson and Hivera Green, and redshirt freshman end William Wall. It is quite possible that an incoming freshman could end up in the mix, especially at end.

The youngest position on the young offense is tight end. The loss of veteran John Kinzer to medical issues left the Hokies without a single down of experience. Redshirt freshmen Sam Wheeler, Ed Wang and Greg Boone will be battling for the top spot during the preseason, with at least one incoming freshman likely to join in.

Tech's linebacker corps has been ranked the third best in the nation by Lindy's on the strength of returning starters Vince Hall and Xavier Adibi. To live up to that billing, however, the Hokies are also going to need continued progress from junior Brett Warren and redshirt sophomore Purnell Sturdivant.

The QB Plan
Coming out of spring practice, redshirt sophomore Sean Glennon is No. 1 on the depth chart at quarterback, followed by redshirt sophomore Cory Holt at No. 2 and redshirt freshmen Ike Whitaker and Greg Boone at No. 3 and No. 4, respectively.

"Now we need to see what happens over the summer," says head coach Frank Beamer. "That is probably going to affect our thinking going into the fall. Then, very quickly, I'd like to name a starting quarterback so we have a direction. That's our plan right now."

The quarterback position might lack experience, but not ability.

"I thought we made tremendous improvement over the course of the spring," says new quarterbacks coach Mike O'Cain. "I was particularly pleased with Sean and Cory. I think both of them can lead this football team and I think we can win with both of them."

Whitaker, who missed valuable learning time in the spring due to a suspension, has ground to make up, but will be given a shot to show what he can do. Boone, for the time being, will move to tight end, where he could contribute this fall.

Catching Up
The Hokies' receiving corps has been ranked the eighth-best in the D-IA ranks by Lindy's, which bases the rating on Tech's quality depth at the position. Five experienced receivers return in senior David Clowney and juniors Eddie Royal, Josh Morgan, Justin Harper and Josh Hyman.

Over the past two seasons, those five receivers have combined for 213 catches for 3,551 yards and 24 touchdowns. Their combined yards per catch average is 16.7 yards.

Tough Act To Follow
Virginia Tech's 2005 defensive unit finished No. 1 in the nation in total defense and was ranked among the top three teams in three other categories. All six senior starters who departed began the summer in NFL camps, leaving some big shoes to fill.

Can the 2006 unit hope to fill them?

"I really feel like we have a chance to be a very competitive defense, similar to what we were last year," says veteran defensive coordinator Bud Foster. "I think we will have a talented, athletic group on the field ... a fast group. We have a little mix of experience, as well as youth, but I'm optimistic about this group because there are some playmakers in there and its their turn to shine."

Too Young?
When it comes to the offense, Frank Beamer feels the Hokies are going to have to grow as the season goes along.

"We've got to develop," Beamer says. "We've got too much youth in some key positions, but yet, we've got some good players. We've got to be really good about how we use players. We are going to have to take care of the football, and we have to score when we get an opportunity. That's the kind of football team we are."

One of the determining factors for a successful season will occur before the Hokies strap on the pads again. A good summer preparation is always important, but never any more than this year when youth and depth are key issues.

"I think Coach (Mike) Gentry's program during the summer is essential for us ... essential to our physical toughness, essential to our mental toughness," Beamer says. "You see bodies change around after a good summer. Some change from a strength standpoint, others change from a loss or redistribution of weight. When we get back together in August, I expect to see a different football team than left here in the spring."