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Virginia Tech Football: Some Realistic Expectations At Key Positions

1Iron is back with some thoughts on a few of the big question marks surrounding the 2014-15 Hokie football team.

Jeremy Brevard-USA TODAY Sports

I love reading all the rags this time of year on how if this happened or that happened we actually won this'n such game...c'mon puleez STOP IT, JUST STOP IT! This is Virginia Tech not Auburn! From the Sunday after A-day down on the plains until mid-July that's much of what I hear that's not Crimson Tide banter. Stop telling readers that we're one player here or one player there away from a Championship! The reality is we're no further today than we were when The Three Amigos - Moorehead, Lefty and Grimes took over - albeit minus one now.  I'll give you the fact that through graduation and noobs we may or may not have a wash, but we're no better off. Truly, we're just one year removed from a significant rebuilding project that has a shelf life until 2016. Is there hope? Of course there is, but the positive skeptic tells me these immutable facts, 1) we have no offensive leader and cannot expect one until August, if then, 2) the O-line continues to be decimated, which didn't take much given where it began, 3) much of the signature Lunchpail Defense is unproven, 4) depth at nearly every position on the field is a question mark.  Yes, Johnny Raincloud has arrived! The Three Amigos performed admirably given the set of circumstances they were thrust into.  The greatest challenge for them is cohesiveness or continuity take your pick on semantics and confidence.

QB: The barn is full of potential and probable talent at QB, traditionally the offensive leader on the field and in the locker room, but they are ALL unproven. What's sad is Mark Leal had four years to get it together and was neither prepared nor did he thrive on the opportunity placed in front of him. Because of that result, just like in real life, you cannot hand over the reins to him and expect 107 players to rally around him with any measure of success.  Given the nature and speed of the college game and the lack of tested talent, FB has no option other than to rely on Lefty to feed Brewer all he can as fast as he can to adapt and overcome the mountain he faces now that he's on campus. Potential: B-

OL: I highly doubt we could have secured a better coach in Stacy Searels this late in the game who has the talent, patience and demeanor to lead, teach and coach this group.  Through most of this group the potential exists to be very good. By not being tested it will take most of the season to develop and grow into a unit of 7-8 guys cohesively. What he cannot control is the health of these historically fragile guys we've had over the past six years - thanks for nothing Curt Newsome (I've seen GA's do a better job). I really hated to see Ryan Pugh follow Tubs up to Cincinnati as the kid has the "it" factor as a player and now as a coach on the rise. Potential: B

The D: The best dimension Bud's Boys have is the swagger that has carried this team for 20+ years. From Coach Gray's D-block to Coach Wiles' D-line, on paper and on the field you don't get the same sense of uncertainty because of their leadership - those that came before us and those yet to come. Those words have resonated for decades throughout the grey dolomite-limestone land that serves as the bedrock metaphor of the Blacksburg defense. Experienced proven depth is an issue. Youth and playing together at speed is an issue. Thinking is an issue. Potential: A-

Depth: In days gone by, we've been able to reload at many positions because of the value 3-star talent recruited and the 757 pipeline has built a level of consistent talent year-in and year-out since 1993. We've had flashes of brilliance, and we've watched much of that brilliance go to Alabama, Florida and Michigan recently. Some of this lack of depth I lay at the feet of the coaches who are no longer employed thankfully, and some I lay at the feet of the player's lack of desire to learn their craft. The scary truth of "you're only one play away from getting on the field" is more true this season than in any that I can remember. Potential: C

Programs and teams have a unique personality and identity.  Virginia Tech has always had a family atmosphere, a stability that many recruits and their parents appreciate. I can only think of two schools - Pete Carroll's USC and Mack Brown's Texas as being the few successful, in terms of Championships, schools that had a family atmosphere.  The process school model, such as Alabama, Ohio State are blueprinted and regimented. Everything has its place and a place for everything. If 18-year old's aren't told where to be, what to do and who to do it with, they're going to do whatever they want to do. Both models create confidence in daily successes on and off the field as long as there's leadership amongst the players. Time will tell us quickly who will rise and accept that role.  Until that time, we'll rely on our coaches to shape and mold these soon-to-be-known's.