#43 Virginia Tech Football 2021 Preview

Virginia Tech Hokies
Overall Rank: #43
#6 ACC
 Virginia Tech Logo
Virginia Tech finished last season 5-6. It was the first time during Coach Justin Fuente’s five seasons leading the program that the Hokies missed out on a bowl game. However, the expectations are higher than simply reaching a bowl game. This could turn into a make-or-break season for the coaching staff. In the end though, this season will likely be another where the Hokies sneak into a bowl and finish with seven or eight wins.
2020 Record: 5-6, 5-5
2020 Bowl: None
Coach: Justin Fuente (38-26 at Virginia Tech, 64-49 overall)
Offensive Coordinator: Brad Cornelsen
Defensive Coordinator: Justin Hamilton
Returning Leaders:
Rushing: Raheem Blackshear, RB, 255 yards
Passing: Braxton Burmeister, QB, 687 yards
Receiving: Tayvion Robinson, WR, 592 yards
Tackles: Chamarri Conner, DB, 81
Sacks: Amare Barno, DL, 6.5
Interceptions: Chamarri Conner, DB, 2; Devin Taylor, DB, 2; Brion Murray, DB, 2
Other Key Returnees: WR Tre Turner, TE James Mitchell, LB Alan Tisdale, LB Dax Hollifield, DB Armani Chatman, DB Dorian Strong
Key Losses: RB Khalil Herbert, QB Hendon Hooker, OT Christian Darrisaw, DL Justus Reed, DB Divine Deablo
With a couple quarterbacks transferring out, the starting job clearly belongs to Braxton Burmeister. Burmeister got off to a poor start to the 2020 season, but ended well following a foot injury that caused him to miss the middle of the campaign. Burmeister has some experienced targets at his disposal. Tayvion Robinson and Tre Turner combined to catch 72 passes for 1,121 yards and six touchdowns last year. Tight end James Mitchell added 26 receptions for 435 yards and four trips to the end zone. Those three could be in for even bigger years, but that will depend on the consistency of Burmeister. It was on the ground where Virginia Tech was its best. Much of those pieces are gone though, most notably running back Khalil Herbert. There are some quality options available however and a committee approach should keep the Hokies strong on the ground.
In all, Virginia Tech returns eight starters to a defense that that ranked 103rd in the nation in total defense. Justin Hamilton stepped into a tough situation as the new defensive coordinator last year. With more time and some spring practice, the new system should start to pay off now. The addition Clemson transfer Jordan Williams in the middle of the line and the ability of Amare Barno to get into the backfield should help improve the defensive line. Alan Tisdale and Dax Hollifield are a quality linebacker duo and the secondary returns enough experience to expect the unit to be better.  
The Bottom Line:
With what should be a defense that looks more like what we expect from Virginia Tech, the team’s success will likely fall on the shoulders of Burmeister. If the quarterback can emerge as a consistent passer and get a little help from the ground game, the Hokies could be in for a very good season.
Projected Bowl:  Military Bowl
2020 Team Stats:
Rushing Offense: 240.1 (10th in nation, 1st in conference)
Passing Offense: 200.6 (89, 12)
Total Offense: 440.7 (31, 6)
Scoring Offense: 31.1 (43, 6)
Rushing Defense: 181.5 (85, 10)
Pass Defense: 266.0 (107, 13)
Total Defense: 447.5 (103, 12)
Scoring Defense: 32.1 (82, 10)
Turnover Margin: 0.27 (45, 7)
Sacks: 3.27 (9, 3)
Sacks Allowed: 2.00 (48, 2)