Our 2017 Virginia Tech Hokies college football preview considers this team to be the top contender in the Coastal Division of the ACC. Last season, under first-year coach Justin Fuente (10-4 VT, 1-0 Bowls; 36-27 Overall, 2-0 Bowls), they finished in first. This season, Fuente has to replace three offensive starters who went pro a year early and were an essential part of the team’s success. Those who moved on are QB Jerod Evans, TE Bucky Hodges, and WR Isaiah Ford. Whoever fills those spots will have to step into some important and productive shoes. Within the Coastal Division Virginia Tech will have competition in 2017 from the Miami Hurricanes and Georgia Tech Yellow Jackets.
It’s expected that three players will compete for the starting signal caller spot. Redshirted freshman Josh Jackson, junior college transfer A.J. Bush, and true freshman Hendon Hooker are the candidates. Right now the feeling is Jackson will be the starter. The Hokies welcome senior WR Cam Phillips (76 REC, 983 YD, 12.9 AVG, 5 TD) back for another season. Phillips is a top route runner and the team’s all-time leading receiver. But after Phillips there are numerous questions concerning experience, skill, and depth in the receiving pool.
Junior RB Travon McMillian (147 ATT, 671 YD, 7 TD, 4.6 AVG) will anchor the ground attack. Overall last season the Hokie running game was inconsistent, earning a national ranking of 55th. The offensive line is sound on the left side but has some question marks on the right and also in terms of depth.
While the offense averaged 35.0 PPG in 2016, which was 33rd nationally, the defense allowed 22.8 PPG, earning them a ranking of 28th. Perhaps more impressive was the ranking of 18th that Virginia Tech earned in total yards allowed. There’s good news on this side of the ball, as seven starters return. Included on the line are run-stoppers Trevon Hill, a sophomore DE, Ricky Walker, a junior NT, and Vinny Mihota, a junior DE. The three totaled 14 TFL last season. DT Tim Settle, a sophomore, led those on the line with seven TFL.
Senior MLB Andrew Motuapuaka and junior OLB Tremaine Edmunds are fearsome figures. Motuapuaka led the team with 114 tackles, while also posting two sacks, 3.5 TFL, four PBU, three picks, and five QBH. Edmunds was second in tackles with 106, and first in TFL for the Hokies with 14. He also led all returning players in QBH with nine. Jr. LB/DB Mook Reynolds was the 2016 sack-leader with 7.5. He also made 64 tackles, while garnering two picks, six PBU, and four QBH.
The deep backs include top pick artist Terrell Edmunds who grabbed four interceptions at free safety, while defending three passes. Together corners Brandon Facyson and Greg Stroman had 21 PBU. Devon Hunter, a top freshman signee, will be competitive in the safety area. The Hokies were second in the ACC in interceptions last year with 16.
The special teams are solid. Greg Stroman averaged 20.9 yards on punt returns last season, while Henri Murphy was good for 26.8 yards on kickoffs. Kicker Joey Slye was almost perfect on extra points (58/59) and on field goals under 40 yards (19/20). But he struggled from 40-plus yards hitting just one of seven. The one he connected on was from 47 yards. Oscar Bradburn, a true freshman with Australian Rules football experience, comes to the team via the camp that produced the last four Ray Guy Award winners.
2017 Virginia Tech Hokies College Football Preview: Final Word
This is a good team overall, and our 2017 Virginia Tech Hokies college football preview likes their defense a lot. They have a fine group of vets and some talented freshmen. The offense lacks depth and may not be as productive as they were last season. As noted prior, both Miami and Georgia Tech will be very competitive in this division.
In terms of scheduling, VT could have trouble with out-of-conference opponent West Virginia when they visit on Sep 3. On Sep 30, Clemson goes to the Hokie’s home for a repeat of last season’s conference final game, which ended with a 42-35 Tiger win. November features Virginia Tech in three major contests, as they play Miami on Nov 4, Georgia Tech on Nov 11, and bitter rival Virginia, who they have beat 13 straight times, on Nov 24.
Top Three Takeaways
Fine defense with depth and experience.
New QB faces challenges with few quality receivers.
Coach Fuente and staff can get results.
2017 Virginia Tech Hokies College Football Preview Projection: Record: 9-5 Overall/5-3 ACC; Finish: 2nd ACC Coastal