College football never ends. During the next few weeks, teams will be getting ready for the 2013 season in their spring practice sessions. Here's a look at the Virginia Tech Hokies and what they'll be working on this spring.
Spring practice began: March 27
Spring game: April 20
2012 record: 7-6 overall, 4-4 ACC
Returning starters: 13 (four offense, nine defense)
The Least You Should Know about Virginia Tech This Spring
-- Logan Thomas is back with a new offensive coordinator. Scott Loeffler's hiring as offensive coordinator came within a week of Logan Thomas' announcement that he would return to Virginia Tech for his senior season. It was a week in which the identity of the 2013 Hokies' offense was determined, and we will see the product take shape this spring. Thomas is looking to bounce back from a disappointing second year starting; one that included 16 interceptions and an ACC-low 51.3 completion percentage. Loeffler is looking to bounce back as well after a disappointing one-year stint at Auburn. Together, they will determine how successful the offense can be in 2013. Virginia Tech's 7-6 finish in 2012 was its worst in 20 years, and one reason for the uncharacteristic season was an inconsistent offense. Bud Foster's defense turned in another respectable body of work, but the offensive struggles resulted in the hiring of three new offensive assistants. If Loeffler and Thomas can jump-start the offense, Virginia Tech should be back to competing for the Coastal Division title this fall.
-- There's a casting call for Logan Thomas' supporting cast. Thomas, Virginia Tech's leading rusher in 2012, will be the focus of the offense once again, but the Hokies need players to step up at running back and wide receiver. Sophomore J.C. Coleman (109 carries, 492 yards in 2012) opens spring practice as the No. 1 running back on the depth chart, but there is plenty of shuffling expected in the coming months. Virginia Tech coach Frank Beamer said he would like to have a "pecking order" established by the end of spring, with Coleman holding off four players -- Michael Holmes, Tony Gregory, Trey Edmunds, Chris Mangus -- for starter's reps.
Thomas will also need to identify new go-to receivers after losing his top three targets from 2012. D.J. Coles will provide a veteran presence to the group, but the redshirt senior has not played since 2011 due to a knee injury. Coles will try to regain game shape this spring while leading a pair of redshirt sophomores, Demitri Knowles and Kevin Asante, and redshirt freshman Joshua Stanford. Tight end is another area of concern this spring. Junior Ryan Malleck and former defensive lineman Zack McCray will look to impress coaches by offering support as a blocker and pass catcher. Malleck accounted for 174 of the 190 receiving yards by tight ends last season, making it another area for improvement for 2013 on offense.
-- Virginia Tech is hoping Tariq Edwards can regain 2011 form. For the most part, the Hokies' defense turned in an impressive performance a year ago despite the team's overall struggles. Virginia Tech finished the season with the No. 2 defense in the ACC, and most of those players are back for 2013. The X-factor for the unit is linebacker Tariq Edwards. Edwards never adjusted after missing last spring and time in the fall due to a stress fracture in his leg. In 2011, he was the team's third-leading tackler, giving defensive coordinator Bud Foster a dangerous combination of linebackers if Edwards steps up in his final year with the program. Fellow senior Jack Tyler broke out last season with a team-high 119 tackles, earning All-ACC honors along the way. If Edwards and Tyler can perform consistently at a high level, it will take pressure off the WHIP linebacker -- arguably one of the question marks for the Hokies in 2013.
-- Hokies' secondary has a chance to be one of the best in the ACC. The secondary returns four of five starters from a unit that ranked in the top 25 nationally in pass defense a year ago. But it is in the unfortunate offseason injury (torn ACL in January) of All-ACC cornerback Antone Exum where the Hokies actually find opportunity to develop one of the better defensive backfields in the conference. Defensive backs coach Torrian Gray plans to use Exum's absence from spring practice to give sophomore Donovan Riley, sophomore Donaldven Manning, and redshirt freshman Davion Tookes an opportunity to see who will be the No. 2 player at field corner. Juniors Detrick Bonner (free safety) and Kyshoen Jarrett (rover) started every game last season, giving Bud Foster plenty of experience at important positions in his 4-2-5 scheme. The only uncertainty appears to be whether highly touted freshmen Brandon Facyson and Kendall Fuller will compete for significant playing time this fall.