Virginia Tech has been a huge disappointment over the last three seasons, garnering a pedestrian 12-12 record in conference play. However, it’s noteworthy that the Hokies were the only team in college football to defeat Ohio State last year, and that win came on the road in Columbus!
While Virginia Tech finished tied for last in the Coastal Division last season, I’m calling for the Hokies to win the division in 2015 as they are one of the most improved teams in the country.
Virginia Tech’s success this season will be predicted upon an outstanding defense that boasts the conference’s best defensive line and secondary. Defensive coordinator Bud Foster has worked with this unit since 1995 and has one of the best lines behind Luther Maddy, Dadi Nicolas and Corey Marshall.
Foster utilized a smaller, quicker and more athletic defensive front seven last year, which resulted in the team’s most sacks (48) since 1999 (and third best in college football). The Hokies’ other strength defensively can be found in the secondary where they return 1st Team ACC Kendall Fuller.
The loss of two starters, including Kyshoen Jarrett certainly hurts, but Virginia Tech once again fields one of the elite secondaries in the nation. I should also note that the Hokies’ linebacking unit is more experienced this season and ranks among the ACC’s top 3 overall.
Virginia Tech’s offense is led by a senior quarterback in Michael Brewer, who threw for 2,692 yards last season (59.4%; 18-15). While Brewer is nothing to write home about, he is supported in the backfield by Marshawn Williams, who is a powerful back that wears down opposing defenses. With everyone back from last year’s unit, I am calling for the Hokies to have at least one 1,000-yard rusher in 2015.
Brewer also has an improved wide receiving corp. to throw to this season, including Bucky Hodges, Isaiah Ford and Cam Phillips. Again, Virginia Tech’s offense will not be explosive, but the Hokies will have success controlling time of possession and ultimately winning games with their elite defense.
Frank Beamer is the FBS’s active leader in wins, although his teams have underperformed over the last three seasons. With the said, Beamer has taken the Hokies to 22 consecutive bowls, including last year’s 33-17 win over Cincinnati.
With sixteen returning starters and one of the country’s best defenses, look for the Hokies to surprise a lot of pundits by winning the Coastal Division in 2015. Who know, an upset over Ohio State in Blacksburg on Labor Day could launch the Hokies into the national conversation! And, that’s certainly possible considering the Hokies are 18-1 in home openers.