clock menu more-arrow no yes

Filed under:

Virginia Tech Football: Five Burning Questions, Pittsburgh Edition

New, 9 comments

The Hokies are 4-2 but there are always questions.

Streeter Lecka

1. So, who's going to be the tailback?

Despite all the talent at the position, we've asked this question a lot this season due to injuries. The North Carolina game was a great win, but to see Marshawn Williams and Trey Edmunds both leave with injury was a crushing blow to an offense just beginning to run the ball effectively. J.C. Coleman and Joel Caleb will have to share the load with a helping or two of Sam Rogers toting the rock. If Tech can find a way to make this work everyone can stop giving Shane Beamer so much grief. He's criticized more than any coach outside of Papa Beamer and it's largely because of his bizarre tailback rotation coupled with a reluctance to pick a starter prior to this season. Fortunately, the wheat naturally separated from the chaff.

2. Is the offense any better now than in years past?

This offense is unquestionably more talented at the skill positions, and in some areas it's much better. Tailback, receiver, tight end and quarterback are all in a better position because of the infusion of young talent and a transfer at QB.

<blockquote class="twitter-tweet" lang="en"><p>Brewer&#39;s 11 INTs hard to overlook but 3rd down conversion skills are elite. <a href="https://twitter.com/hashtag/Hokies?src=hash">#Hokies</a> have gone from 113th in country in 2013 to 13th this yr.</p>&mdash; Hokies Journal (@HokiesJournal) <a href="https://twitter.com/HokiesJournal/status/522387264589299712">October 15, 2014</a></blockquote>

<script async src="//platform.twitter.com/widgets.js" charset="utf-8"></script>

The interceptions are really troubling, but the significant increases in completion percentage and third down conversion rate are worth the rough spots. Retooling the offense was always a three year process in my eyes and things certainly seem less stagnant in Scot Loeffler's second season than the first or in the many years under Bryan Stinespring. I'll save a more detailed analysis for another article down the road, but on the whole I'd say Tech is improving.

3. Well who's the "best" on offense?

That's a tough call, but odds are he's hurt at this point. Shai McKenzie was beginning to look like the truth at tailback and Marshawn looked like the perfect compliment. Isaiah Ford and Cam Phillips have both been a revelation at receiver making catches well beyond their experience level. I think without question the toughest player to game plan for is Bucky Hodges. He's essentially been lining up as an extra receiver and it's still unclear to me how a linebacker or corner can possibly be expected to cover a 6'6" tight end with great hands and speed. He's one of the most dangerous weapons—especially at the goal line—in the nation.

<blockquote class="twitter-tweet" lang="en"><p><a href="https://twitter.com/hashtag/Hokies?src=hash">#Hokies</a> Bucky Hodges named to <a href="https://twitter.com/JohnMackeyAward">@JohnMackeyAward</a> Midseason Watch List: <a href="http://t.co/GuLwfVmymg">http://t.co/GuLwfVmymg</a> <a href="http://t.co/P43Gh38Tck">pic.twitter.com/P43Gh38Tck</a></p>&mdash; VT Football (@VT_Football) <a href="https://twitter.com/VT_Football/status/521666876435607553">October 13, 2014</a></blockquote>

<script async src="//platform.twitter.com/widgets.js" charset="utf-8"></script>

4. Will the defense continue to tee off?

Ken Ekanem is blossoming before our eyes into the next great Tech defensive end. Against UNC he finished with three sacks, four tackles for loss and a forced fumble. Dadi Nicolas is very exciting in his own right, but he's still unrefined as a pass rusher. Ekanem now leads the team with five sacks on the year versus Dadi's 4.5. With defensive tackle Luther Maddy out against Pittsburgh it will be even more crucial for Tech to get pressure off the edge and with Nicolas and Ekanem, you have to feel good about those prospects.

<iframe width="560" height="315" src="//www.youtube.com/embed/oslnZHWxoZk" frameborder="0" allowfullscreen></iframe>

5. Can the Hokies rekindle that old Thursday night magic?

Tech is 20-9 all-time on ESPN's Thursday Night Football and 9-3 on the road. The Hokies always seem excited to play under the lights and even with the NFL playing on Thursday's—have an original idea would you?—it's still fun knowing the college football world is focused on your game and yours alone. This is a much more favorable environment than noon on a Saturday in a lifeless pro stadium. The environment should be better and the Hokies will be ready. There may however be a shortage of hair product with Jesse Palmer in town.