#22 Virginia Tech Football 2017 Preview


Virginia Tech Hokies


Overall Rank: #22

#5 ACC

Coach Justin Fuente’s debut season at Virginia Tech could not have gone much better. The Hokies went 6-2 in ACC play and reached the conference championship game, where they gave Clemson a very tough game. And then they followed that up with a nice 35-24 victory over Arkansas in the Belk Bowl. The offense has some big holes to fill, but this is a team that should compete for another trip to the championship game with the ACC Coastal Division again looking wide open.
2016 Record: 10-4, 6-2
2016 Bowl: Belk Bowl vs. Arkansas (W 35-24)
Coach: Justin Fuente (10-4 at Virginia Tech, 36-27 overall)
Offensive Coordinator: Brad Cornelsen
Defensive Coordinator: Bud Foster
Returning Leaders:
Rushing: Travon McMillian, RB, 671 yards
Passing: None
Receiving: Cam Phillips, WR, 983 yards
Tackles: Andrew Motuapuaka, LB, 114
Sacks: Tremaine Edmunds, LB, 4.5
Interceptions: Terrell Edmunds, S, 4
Other Key Returnees: LB Mook Reynolds, DB Brandon Facyson, DB Greg Stroman, DB Adonis Alexander, K Joey Slye
Key Losses: QB Jerod Evans, WR Isaiah Ford, WR Bucky Hodges, OL Augie Conte, OL Jonathan McLaughlin, DL Woody Baron, DL Ken Ekanem, S Chuck Clark
After throwing for 3,546 yards and 29 touchdowns and rushing for 846 yards and a dozen more scores, Virginia Tech will have a very difficult time replacing Jerod Evans. Wide receiver Isaiah Ford and tight end Bucky Hodges also left for the professional ranks a year early. Redshirt freshman Josh Jackson currently leads a tight race to take over for Evans. He will get competition from junior college transfer A.J. Bush and true freshman Hendon Hooker. Without Ford and Hodges though, whoever is under center will need to find some new targets. Cam Phillips is a proven playmaker and caught 76 passes for 983 yards and five touchdowns last season, but there is not much experience around him. Travon McMillian rushed for 671 yards and seven touchdowns last season and will lead a group of backs who should combine to give the Hokies a pretty potent ground game.
If the front four can reload, this could be one of the best defenses in the ACC. Technically, Vinny Mihota is the only returning starter on the line. The defensive end tallied 28 tackles last season, including 1.5 sacks and 6.5 tackles-for-loss. Trevon Hill earned a couple of starts as a freshman in 2016 and is the likely candidate to lead this team in sacks. In the middle of the line Ricky Walker has some starting experience and Tim Settle played well as a freshman in a limited capacity. If those two are ready to be full-time starters and Hill can get to the quarterback, Virginia Tech will be in great shape. The back end of the defense returns virtually intact with Andrew Motuapuaka and Tremaine Edmunds leading the way. Those two linebackers combined to record 220 tackles. Cornerbacks Brandon Facyson and Greg Stroman are experienced seniors and possibly the best duo in the ACC and Terrell Edmunds, who is sliding over to the free safety spot, is a big time playmaker. As long as the pass rush is halfway decent, the secondary will make a ton of big plays this year.
The Bottom Line:
It was not long ago that the Virginia Tech offense was painful to watch. The Hokies have turned things around since then, but with so many new faces on offense, this group could take a step back towards a team that can only win games with their defense. ACC action begins with a tough game against Clemson too and that could put the Hokies in catch-up mode for the rest of the year. The biggest divisional battle will likely come on November 4th at Miami. In the end, that game could decide who represents the Coastal Division in the ACC Championship Game.
Projected Bowl: Pinstripe Bowl
2016 Team Stats:
Rushing Offense: 183.1 (55th in nation, 5th in conference)
Passing Offense: 261.9 (35, 7)
Total Offense: 444.9 (39, 5)
Scoring Offense: 35.0 (33, 5)
Rushing Defense: 140.5 (32, 8)
Pass Defense: 200.2 (26, 3)
Total Defense: 340.7 (18, 4)
Scoring Defense: 22.8 (28, 5)
Turnover Margin: -0.07 (72, 9)
Sacks: 2.29 (50, 10)
Sacks Allowed: 2.29 (83, 8)
Madness 2018 NFL Draft Rankings:
#57 Adonis Alexander
Madness 2017 Recruit Rankings:
#51 Devon Hunter
#127 Nathan Proctor