Sunday, June 11, 2017

Bilo's College Football Previews: Virginia Tech Hokies

Virginia Tech Hokies
Justin Fuente made it to the ACC title game in his first season as coach of the Hokies, but there are some serious questions as we head into fall camp for 2017. With star QB Jerod Evans gone, who will the Hokies rely on to move both the passing game, and the run game? Will the defense be the same unit that only allowed 22.8 points per game, or will the massive losses up front cause the overall unit to falter? These are questions that need answering if the Hokies are to be in the race in the Coastal Division in 2017.
What To Be Excited About: Offense
Junior Travon McMillan is back at RB after finishing with 145 carries last fall. With serious issues at the QB position expected, McMillan may finally get to be a feature player that is given more than 10 carries per game in 2017. Look for him to be a potential breakout star for the Hokies this fall.
The new QB will at least get WR Cam Phillips back. Phillips finished second on the team with 76 receptions in 2016. He scored five times and averaged just over 70 yards per game last fall.
The line should be in decent shape, as three starters return. Yosua Nijman is back at LT, Wyatt Teller returns at LG, and Eric Gallo returns at C. Junior Braxton Pfaff looks like he could be taking over at RG, while Parker Osterloh is in line to start at RT as a RS senior. Every key reserve returns from C to the left side of the line as well.
Joey Slye is back at PK after hitting 20/27 FGs on the season, and he may be more important this season.
What To Be Concerned About: Offense
Jerod Evans took some seriously bad advise and left after his one season at Virginia Tech, and he went undrafted and has already been released from his UDFA contract. Not only is he out in the cold, the Hokies have no clear answer at QB at all as we head into fall camp. Jack Click is the most experienced QB returning, and he attempted all of one pass last season, which fell incomplete. The QB position had largely been void of serious talent until last season, and there could be a major issue there once again after a one season hiatus.
The run game was largely ditched last season, as Evans led the team in rushing by far. The Hokies will not have that go to guy this season, so the run game will have to become a much more important element of what the Hokies will do this season, and it will have to have a more traditional look to work.
Phillips is the only receiver of influence who returns to the fold. There is limited depth and experience after him, as both Isaiah Ford and Bucky Hodges both left after their junior seasons. This issue will further hamper the development of the QB situation.
What To Be Excited About: Defense
The LB group ought to be one of the best in the nation this season, and will be getting worked extra hard this season with what will largely be a rebuilt defensive line. Mook Reynolds is back at the WHIP spot, Andrew Motuapuaka will return at MLB, and Tremaine Edmunds will be back at LOLB. Edmunds finished with 18.5 TFLs last fall, while Reynolds and Motuapuaka combined for 15 more. Motuapuaka led the team with 114 tackles, while Edmunds finished with 106. Reynolds finished with 64 on the season.
Three starters return in the secondary as well, and this group will have a ton of pressure on them if the defensive front takes more time to develop outside of camp. Greg Stroman and Brandon Facyson will both be back at CB. Stroman knocked away 10 balls last season, while Facyson finished with 11 PBUs. Stroman also added three picks.
Terrell Edmunds is back at ROVER this fall. He led the team with four picks last season, and finished with three PBUs. He also added 89 tackles on the season.
What To Be Concerned About: Defense
Three starters must be replaced on the line for the Hokies, and that could be a major issue in the pressure and run stop games. Vinny Mihota is back as a junior at RDE, and he is the lone returning starters. He finished with seven TFLs last fall. He added 43 tackles on the year. Two of the new starters on the line could be just sophomores.
The only other real concern on this side of the unit is at Punter. Mitchell Ludwig returns, but he averaged just over 38 yards per punt last fall, and that will not get it done.
2017 Schedule: 9/3 West Virginia at Landover, MD, 9/9 Delaware, 9/16 at East Carolina, 9/23 Old Dominion, 9/30 Clemson, 10/7 at Boston College, 10/21 North Carolina, 10/28 Duke, 11/4 at Miami, 11/11 at Georgia Tech, 11/18 Pittsburgh, 11/24 at Virginia
Final Overview
Virginia Tech is in a position in the ACC Coastal not unlike anyone else really in the division outside of arch rival Virginia. The Hokies have more questions than answers at some very important positions, and they are going to have to find answers in a hurry. If they can find a serious solution on offense, the defense may be able to take care of the rest, but there are questions even there. I would not be surprised to see the Hokies slip back this fall, but there are opportunities, and if they can grab a few of them, then they stand just as good a shot as anyone else in the division of winning the thing and playing in the conference title game yet again. I don't think that they will be that fortunate, but the Coastal is so wide open that anything is possible.

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