#24 Virginia Tech Football 2020 Preview

Virginia Tech Hokies
Overall Rank: #24
#3 ACC
 Virginia Tech Logo
Coach Justin Fuentes entered Virginia Tech in 2016 and won ten games with a trip to the ACC Championship game and a win in the Belk Bowl. Since then the Hokies have been solid, but they have yet to reach the same level of success. This season could be different though. Virginia Tech is a very experienced team and that could lead to another trip to the ACC championship game.
2019 Record: 8-5, 5-3
2019 Bowl: Belk Bowl vs. Kentucky (L 30-37)
Coach: Justin Fuente (33-20 at Virginia Tech, 59-43 overall)
Offensive Coordinator: Brad Cornelsen
Defensive Coordinator: Justin Hamilton
Returning Leaders:
Rushing: Hendon Hooker, QB, 356 yards
Passing: Hendon Hooker, QB, 1,555 yards
Receiving: Tre Turner, WR, 553 yards
Tackles: Rayshard Ashby, LB, 120
Sacks: Chamarri Conner, DB, 5.5
Interceptions: Caleb Farley, DB, 4
Other Key Returnees: RB Keshawn King, WR Tayvion Robinson, TE James Mitchell, OL Christian Darrisaw, OL Lecitus Smith, DL Jarrod Hewitt, DB Divine Deablo, LB Dax Hollifield, LB Alan Tisdale, DB Jermaine Waller, DL TyJuan Garbutt, P Oscar Bradburn
Key Losses: RB Deshawn McClease, QB Ryan Willis, WR Damon Hazelton, DB Reggie Floyd
Hendon Hooker started eight games under center last season, throwing for 1,555 yards and 13 touchdowns and adding another 356 yards and five scores on the ground. Hooker appears to be the frontrunner to nab the starting job in 2020, but a couple other quarterbacks have starting experience as well. Coach Fuente has the luxury of calling on Oregon transfer Braxton Burmeister or super recruit Quincy Patterson if Hooker is not getting the job done. Tre Turner and Tayvion Robinson are experienced receivers, but some inexperienced players will need to step up and help the unit become more consistent. The biggest loss on offense could be Deshawn McClease, who led the team with 843 rushing yards. Keshawn King made a big splash early in his freshman season before an injury slowed him down. Jalen Holston has dealt with a lot of injuries of his own. Last season he did not make it through the first game of the season before suffering an injury that sidelined him for the rest of the year. Behind a strong offensive line, the ground game has potential but the ground game also has a lot to prove.
Virginia Tech ranked 17th in the nation with 2.92 sacks per game and most of those pieces are back. The front line returns a slew of experience and Jarrod Hewitt, DaShawn Crawford and TyJuan Garbutt are ready to turn this into one of the best defensive lines in the ACC. The returning experience continues at linebacker. Rayshard Ashby led the team with 120 tackles including a team high 17.0 tackles-for-loss. Dax Hollifield is another experienced starter and Alan Tisdale is poised for a breakout sophomore season. The secondary has grown into a solid unit. There have been some struggles over the last couple of seasons, but the former inexperience should pay off in 2020. Caleb Farley tallied 12 pass breakups and four interceptions, while Chamarri Conner led the team with 5.5 sacks and added seven quarterback hurries, eight pass breakups and one interception.
The Bottom Line:
This could a big year for the Hokies. The defense will be better and the offense is brimming with potential. If the team can find consistency under center and a decent rushing threat, Virginia Tech’s offense should be able to put up enough points. A September 12th home date against Penn State will be a great early test. With so much returning talent, at home and while the Nittany Lions are still looking to fill some holes, this game could go Virginia Tech’s way. The Hokies avoid Clemson so the biggest conference games will likely be at North Carolina on October 10th and Miami at home on November 14th. 
Projected Bowl: Camping World Bowl
2019 Team Stats:
Rushing Offense: 176.1 (49th in nation, 5th in conference)
Passing Offense: 209.1 (86, 11)
Total Offense: 385.2 (86, 9)
Scoring Offense: 30.8 (49, 6)
Rushing Defense: 139.3 (46, 5)
Pass Defense: 224.0 (63, 6)
Total Defense: 363.3 (42, 4)
Scoring Defense: 24.7 (46, 5)
Turnover Margin: -0.31 (90, 10)
Sacks: 2.92 (17, 5)
Sacks Allowed: 2.23 (77, 5)
Madness 2020 NFL Draft Rankings:
#56 Caleb Farley