The Preseason AP Top 25 poll won’t come out until later this month, but here at BangTheBook.com, we’re giving you a Top 25 from a betting perspective. Using power ratings to determine the top 25 teams in college football, readers will have the opportunity to look at what the preseason Top 25 might look like if designed by a bettor. Each article will feature a preview of that team with a write-up for each position and an explanation of why the position group was rated that way and some further insight into the methodology of creating power ratings.
The Methodology: Each team is rated up to 100 with eight different position groups considered. Quarterbacks, offensive and defensive lines, and coaching are graded on a scale of 4 to 15, while running backs, wide receivers, linebackers, and defensive backs are graded on a scale of 4 to 10 in half-point increments.
Groups are rated on returning production, potential, previous performance, and a handful of other variables. Information was gathered from all corners of the college football world, including preseason magazines, websites dedicated to specific teams, national college football websites, and more.
The #25 team on the BangTheBook.com Preseason Top 25 is the Virginia Tech Hokies.
The Virginia Tech Hokies are in the midst of the dictionary definition of a quarterback competition. There are five names in the mix -Texas Tech transfer Michael Brewer, Spring Scrimmage starter Branden Motley, senior Mark Leal, and true freshmen Andrew Ford and Chris Durkin. Somebody will emerge and that somebody should have more to work with in the second year of Scot Loeffler’s offense.
Running Backs (7.5/10)
Trey Edmunds had a decent season as a redshirt freshman, but the Hokies were in a transitional phase with a new set of schemes. There’s some true freshmen talent on the horizon and better quarterback play should lead to some improved numbers. Depending on who wins the quarterback job, the running backs may be a bigger part of the passing game and impact the game that way.
Wide Receivers (7.5/10)
The top three return and that should be a big help to whichever guy is the starting quarterback. There’s some talent here as eight of the top nine receivers return. Logan Thomas regressed as a quarterback over his four years at Virginia Tech with declining offensive line play and a lack of playmakers, so a new face at quarterback and some better skill position talent could go a long way.
Offensive Line (11.5/15)
The door is open for this group to progress and get better. Four seniors are expected to start and sophomore Jonathan McLaughlin was the first true freshman left tackle to start under Beamer, which is a pretty good indication of his talent level. The Hokies had plenty of problems opening holes last season and protecting Logan Thomas. They can’t be a whole lot worse.
Defensive Line (11.5/15)
Expect this number to rise throughout the season. The Hokies lost a lot on their defensive line, with 22.5 sacks departed from last season’s team. Regardless, Bud Foster’s defenses are always stout against the run and this group shouldn’t be any different. Over the last seven seasons, opponents have averaged better than 3.6 yards per carry just once. The schemes work and unheralded recruits become quality defensive players under Foster on a regular basis.
It’s not really a hindrance for the Hokies, but there are no returning starters at linebacker. Foster always finds somebody to play and make tackles. Jack Tyler had 100 tackles, 4.5 sacks, 6.5 tackles for loss, and 12 quarterback hits, so the Hokies lost a two-time All-ACC player, but somebody is sure to step up here and play in a system that produced solid defenses year after year.
Defensive Backs (10/10)
Virginia Tech is DBU for Defensive Back University. Kyle Fuller missed most of the season and was a first-round pick to the Bears, while Antone Exum had a promising college career derailed by injuries and he still went in the sixth-round. Kendall Fuller will be Virginia Tech’s next first-round draft pick out of the secondary as he put together a spectacular freshman campaign. He and opposite corner Brandon Facyson were both first-team Freshman All-Americans. With two seniors at safety, this is an elite secondary and one that can cover up a lot of the problems with the front seven.
Scot Loeffler drags this rating down because his offense was so bad last season, but Frank Beamer is nearly unbeatable in November and there’s probably not a better defensive coordinator in the country than Bud Foster. Foster has probably turned down more head coaching requests than anybody else in the country and the results his defenses produce year after year are thoroughly impressive. The last couple of seasons have been rough for Beamer, but he has averaged exactly eight wins per season over his 28-year tenure and 9.9 years per season over the last 10 years.
You’re not likely to see Virginia Tech rated this highly in any other set of power ratings. Perception is down on the Hokies with three straight four-ATS win seasons. The graduation of Logan Thomas should be a blessing in disguise for the team because the offense got complacent and lazy with him calling the signals. The quarterback competition is good for everybody involved and this is still going to be an elite defense.
This is the first time in a long time that the Hokies aren’t being talked about in the preseason as a consensus favorite to win the Coastal Division and that should lead to value. Last season was a perfect storm of problems for the Hokies with injuries, bad offensive line play, and a new offensive coordinator. Things should be better this season and backing teams with strong defenses is rarely a bad idea.
It’s arguably the biggest surprise in this Top 25, but the Virginia Tech Hokies check in at #25.
Adam Burke is a freelance writer and amateur handicapper with a knack for finding value through matchup analysis and a deep understanding of the sports betting market. His main area of expertise is baseball, with a background in sabermetrics and advanced statistics. He is the host of The Gridiron Gambling Report and our college football and college basketball BangTheBook.com podcasts on the BlogTalkRadio Network.