Virginia Tech Football Preview

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Virginia Tech Football opened their 2018 season with a daunting trip to Tallahassee, Florida, where they faced another nationally ranked team, Florida State. This year’s schedule also features visits to Blacksburg by Notre Dame and Miami as well as a road test against Duke.

Virginia Tech Football went 9-4 last season and did not compete in a major postseason game; the exception was their 30-21 loss against Oklahoma State in the Camping World Bowl.  The performance was a drop off compared to the team’s 10-4 record over the 2016 season in which the Hokies competed for an Atlantic Coast Conference (ACC) Title. This season will be considered a “rebuilding year,” and expectations are relatively low.  

According to SBNation, “If the Hokies simply hold steady in the top 30 in 2018, you’d have to consider that a success.”

Head Coach Justin Fuente has said that he’s eager to wave goodbye to a brutal offseason.  “It’s been more eventful than I’d like, but we’re using it as some good teaching opportunities.”

For VT, the offseason has consisted of off-field issues, academic issues, injuries, and transfers, not to mention the amount of talent lost in this year’s National Football League (NFL) Draft.

Virginia Tech football Head Coach, Justin Fuente, enters the field before the 2016 ACC Championship game where the Hokies faced Clemson.  He will be hoping for similar success in the coming seasons.

Starting cornerback, Adonis Alexander, was deemed academically ineligible for the 2018 season.  Starting quarterback Josh Jackson almost met the same fate as Alexander but was able to resolve his issue in June.  Back up quarterback A.J. Bush transferred and starting linebacker Mook Reynolds was dismissed from the team as he faces charges of selling or distributing marijuana or the possession of marijuana with the intent to sell or distribute it.

Over the course of the offseason, the defensive side of the ball has been hit the hardest, losing 11 players.  Four of last season’s starters, including the Edmunds brothers who played a big role in last year’s defense, were drafted into the NFL and two others signed for NFL teams.  Co-defensive coordinator, Galen Scott, resigned from the team after information on the misuse of recruiting trips was uncovered. The former coordinator also admitted to an extramarital affair that was divulged on twitter.

The incumbents of the defense boast 68 career combined starts.  Only three of the defensive squads, coached by Bud Foster, have returned with less experience.  

Foster remained optimistic about the young group when speaking with the “I do feel like we have some talented guys at a lot of spots; we just don’t have the experience that we have had, particularly in the past, the most recent past. But I really like this group of kids.”

Foster has no reservations for the group either.  The coach has said that he plans to “Overload them a little bit,” rather than to slow down his teaching approach.

The offense lost a big playmaker in Cam Phillips to the NFL draft.  Phillips was a starting wide receiver who gave the Hokies their big play ability.  Going into the season, Tech has 11 freshmen wide receivers and only one senior. Josh Jackson comes into his second season as the confirmed starting quarterback and a captain of the team.  

There is some concern over consistency as the young quarterback managed to complete only 57.15% of his passes in the final month of last season after completing 64.92% of his passes that September.  Considering the inexperience of this year’s wide receiver corps, there may be some substance to these concerns. The group has only 104 combined career catches, which equates to an average of just above five catches per player.

Fuente has kept confidence in the young quarterback and chose him to start against Florida State over Hendon Hooker, Quincy Patterson II, and former Kansas quarterback Ryan Willis.  

Blacksburg High School student Kevin Zhang, sophomore, was impressed by Jackson’s performance against Florida State.  “I felt that he dominated against Florida State, I also feel that his skill level on the field was similar to Batman’s skill in hand to hand combat.”

Blacksburg native, Cole Beck, also received some attention from the coaches this offseason with Fuente alluding to the possibility of playing time for Beck and some of the younger players.

When asked about the idea of playing time for Beck, Fuente replied, “Oh that’s certainly a possibility.  He has pretty elite speed, but it’s still an adjustment for all of these guys–not just the speed of the game, but the volume of responsibility that they have. We’re looking at all of those guys (freshmen) on special teams and on both sides of the ball, and we’ll see how it all shakes out, but it’s certainly something that we’re paying attention to.”

This year’s Hokie team is one filled with inexperience but also with optimism.  They will be looking to extend VT’s 25 straight bowl game streak and to, as usual, beat rivals UVA.