Preview 2017: Virginia Tech Hokies
Previewing and looking ahead at the Virginia Tech Hokies season – and what you need to know.
That’s how it was supposed to work
Relationships between college coaches and their schools never end well.
Either the guy lost and got canned, or he left for something better, or he just faded into oblivion after things started to slip.
Frank Beamer was one of the rare exceptions.
Yeah, after a phenomenal run after Virginia Tech joined the ACC – by the way, big-name Big East ACC Championship check, Hokies 4, with three other Coastal titles, Miami 0 – the title seasons stopped coming after 2011, but it’s not like the program fell into the abyss like, say, Texas did after the Mack Brown era.
After the program’s last first place division finish, there were four more winning seasons, four more bowl appearances – winning three of them – to close out a legendary career that ended with 23 straight winning seasons and bowls, 280 wins, eight conference championships and a national title appearance.
But it was time.
Not like being in your late 60s is old for a head football coach, but the ultra-consistent powerhouse Beamer created needed a new direction and bit of a boost.
Justin Fuente turned out to be just that in his first season at the helm.
It was as if Fuente took the identity of Virginia Tech football, and everything Beamer created, and kept it all going, but better.
The run defense wasn’t quite as strong as it was when Beamer’s teams were rocking and rolling, and the special teams weren’t as amazing, but there was a trip to the ACC Championship and a ten-win season for the first time since 2011.
The D was amazing at getting into the backfield, was strong in the secondary, and it finished 18th in the country overall, while the offense averaged 445 yards per game and came up with an efficient and effective year, utilizing everything Fuente brought to the table.
So now it’s about not just keeping the above-average consistency going, but to get to the ACC Championship again on a regular basis and actually win it.
41 going into the season, Fuente is a young, strong quarterback guru and offensive mind who should grow as the program keeps progressing. It’s asking the world for anyone to be a lifer with the same success like Beamer was, but at the very least, Virginia Tech has another star head coach who’ll keep the program deep in the ACC title hunt.
But now Fuente has to prove it. Coming up with one good season is nice, but putting together a big Year Two is a must to show the staying power. At Virginia Tech, the team is supposed to win no matter what – a few lost key parts shouldn’t matter.
The defense should be a killer again if the line comes together in a hurry. The linebackers are tremendous, and the secondary would be the star of the ACC if it wasn’t for Florida State. But the pressure and production has to come from the front four right away.
The passing game needs a whole bunch of work after losing QB Jerod Evans early to the NFL, and top targets Isaiah Ford and Bucky Hodges have to be replaced. There’s a good quarterback derby between a slew of excellent options, and Cam Phillips lead a good-looking group of receivers ready to fill in the gaps.
The running backs might have been ignored too often, but the best ones are back, working behind a great line that could have three all-stars by the end of the season.
Yeah, the Coastal is going to be tough, with Miami rising up and North Carolina, Georgia Tech and Pitt all good enough to win it. But Virginia Tech has gotten through tougher situations.
No one can be another Beamer, but if Fuente is close, Virginia Tech will be right there in the mix for the ACC title again.
And the success keeps on rolling.