#41 Virginia Tech Football 2016 Preview

Virginia Tech Hokies
Overall Rank: #41
#7 ACC
It will be the dawn of a new era in Blacksburg as Justin Fuente takes over for longtime head coach Frank Beamer, who retired after 29 seasons last fall. These will be big shoes to fill for Fuente but there are nice pieces in place on both sides of the ball that will help Coach Fuente and defensive coordinator Bud Foster hit the ground running and be able to seamlessly mesh both of their styles together. If Virginia Tech can quickly find a quarterback to take control of the up-tempo offense, then the Hokies will have a chance to surprise some people.
2015 Record: 7-6, 4-4
2015 Bowl: Independence Bowl vs. Tulsa (W 55-52)
Coach: Justin Fuente (0-0 at Virginia Tech, 26-24 overall)
Offensive Coordinator: Brad Cornelson
Defensive Coordinator: Bud Foster
Returning Leaders:
Rushing: Travon McMillian, RB, 1,043 yards
Passing: Brenden Motley, QB, 1,155 yards
Receiving: Isaiah Ford, WR, 1,164 yards
Tackles: Chuck Clark, S, 107
Sacks: Ken Ekanem, DE, 4.5
Interceptions: Adonis Alexander, DB, 4
Other Key Returnees: WR Cam Phillips, TE Bucky Hodges, LB Andrew Motuapuaka, DT Woody Baron, DB Brandon Facyson
Key Losses: QB Michael Brewer, LB Deon Clarke, DT Luther Maddy, DE Dadi Nicolas, P A.J. Hughes
There is enough skill position talent on the roster at running back and wide receiver to help Virginia Tech be more explosive offensively this season within this new offensive scheme. Travon McMillan ran for 1,043 yards and Isaiah Ford, along with Cam Phillips and Bucky Hodges, form a very talented pass catching group that can hold their own against anyone in the country. The offensive line returns plenty of experience as well which will be an added bonus for the new offensive coaching staff. Wyatt Teller and Augie Conte are two very strong and talented guards that should set up the Virginia Tech offense to be able to run for well over 200 yards per game this season. Joey Slye is back at placekicker and Slye was very consistent last season, converting 23 out of 27 field goal attempts. That type of consistency in the kicking game is going to be important as the Hokies are going to be in their fair share of tightly contested games once again.
Defensively, Virginia Tech was not very good for their standards as several factors took its toll on the entire unit last season. Bud Foster’s return as defensive coordinator will provide some very valuable continuity and, if they can healthier, the defense should improve quickly. The linebacker corps is going to have to step up and help what should be a strong defensive line unit for the Hokies. Teams ran the ball at will against Virginia Tech last season as the Hokies allowed 180.7 rushing yards per game. That number has to drop down to somewhere between 100-125 yards per game if Virginia Tech is going to contend for the ACC Coastal Division title. Quarterback is a concern and Coach Fuente does not have a built in Paxton Lynch type of quarterback on the roster with a ton of experience. It will be a battle between Jerrod Evans and Brendon Motley for the starting job with Evans as the favorite.
The Bottom Line:
Week two of the regular season will provide a trip to the Bristol Motor Speedway for a neutral site battle with regional rival Tennessee. It will be a game that will have well over 150,000 plus fans and will be great early season litmus test for the Hokies to see where they are at as a team. The road schedule in the ACC will dictate just how far Virginia Tech will go as they have trips to North Carolina, Pittsburgh and Duke along with a non-conference trip to Notre Dame in late November. If the Hokies can go at least .500 in those four game, then they will be in great position to win nine games in year one under Coach Fuente.
Projected Bowl: Sun Bowl
2015 Team Stats:
Rushing Offense: 159.2 (81st in nation, 11th in conference)
Passing Offense: 225.8 (64, 9)
Total Offense: 385.1 (74, 8)
Scoring Offense: 31.0 (53, 6)
Rushing Defense: 180.7 (75, 11)
Pass Defense: 189.2 (19, 4)
Total Defense: 369.8 (44, 9)
Scoring Defense: 26.3 (59, 11)
Turnover Margin: 0.31 (39, 5)
Sacks: 2.00 (70, 8)
Sacks Allowed: 2.62 (100, 11)
Madness 2017 NFL Draft Rankings:
#59 Isaiah Ford
#75 Bucky Hodges