Record: 10-4 overall, 5-3 ACC (first, ACC champion)
Bowl: beat Cincinnati 20-7 in the Orange
They're here: DE Jason Worilds, QB Tyrod Taylor, S Kam Chancellor
They're gone: CB Macho Harris, K Dustin Keys, QB Sean Glennon
Confidence. When you win 52 games in five years, the confidence to win usually follows, as does the motivation to maintain the standards of the program.
Running game. Even without injured running back Darren Evans, Tech has explosive options in redshirt freshman Ryan Williams and true freshman David Wilson.
Passing game. Taylor threw two touchdowns, seven interceptions and completed just 57.2 percent of his attempts (99-173). For the Hokies to take the next step from ACC power to national power, Taylor needs to progress as a passer.
Bottom line: At 32-8 in conference play, Virginia Tech has found a way to win games, even without an effective offense or an abundance of talent at the skill positions. The loss of Evans does not help on the talent front but until proven otherwise, the Hokies are the team to beat.
Record: 9-4 overall, 5-3 ACC (second)
Bowl: lost to LSU 38-3 in the Peach
They're here: RB Jonathan Dwyer, QB Josh Nesbitt, S Morgan Burnett
They're gone: DE Michael Johnson, DT Vance Walker, DT Darryl Richard
Running game. It's not just that 10 starters are back on offense, or that Jonathan Dwyer led the league in rushing (1,395) and yards per carry (7.0), but the players' experience in Paul Johnson's flexbone offense. It's no longer a foreign concept after two springs, 13 games and the extra bowl practice.
The defensive line. You can't help but talk about offense when it comes to Georgia Tech, but the defense carried that team through stretches. With three new starters on the defensive line, the Jackets will not enjoy the same advantage.
Bottom line: In Dwyer, quarterback Josh Nesbitt and running back Anthony Allen, Johnson has the perfect parts to run his offense. With another year of seasoning, and the return of 10 starters, the flexbone will only get better, which should put the Jackets in the same nine-win ballpark as 2008.
Record: 7-6 overall, 4-4 ACC (fourth)
Bowl: lost to Cal 24-17 in the Emerald
They're here: LB Sean Spence, RB Graig Cooper, K Matt Bosher
They're gone: LB Glenn Cook, OC Patrick Nix, QB Robert Marve
QB clarity. The ill-fated rotation of Robert Marve and Jacory Harris is history with Marve's transfer to Purdue. The job's Harris' and, as he proved last season, he's the best passer and leader for the job.
With a slightly more palatable schedule, Miami could dethrone Virginia Tech in the Coastal, but that's going to be an uphill climb with road tests at Virginia Tech and UNC in the division and FSU and Wake on the other side. The out-of-conference slate includes Oklahoma, Central Florida and South Florida.
Bottom line: The schedule doesn't lend itself to much more than a one-win improvement.
Record: 5-7 overall, 3-5 ACC (fifth)
They're here: QB Jameel Sewell, CB Ras-I Dowling, RB Mikell Simpson
They're gone: RB Cedric Peerman, T Eugene Monroe, WR Kevin Ogletree
Virginia went from a dearth of quarterbacks to a surplus with the return of Jameel Sewell, the starter in 2007, from academic suspension and the conversion of Vic Hall from safety to quarterback. Last year's starter Marc Verica is another option for first-year coordinator Gregg Brandon.
Most of the skill-position players from '08 are gone. Among those who have to be replaced are running back Cedric Peerman (774 yards), tight end John Phillips and wideouts Kevin Ogletree, Mo Covington and Cary Koch.
Bottom line: The transition to Brandon's spread offense will either spark a renaissance or hasten Groh's exit.