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Virginia Tech Football: Gobbler Country Staff Roundtable, Last Chance Prediction Edition

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After taking in all the analysis, reports, and pundtitry, your neighborhood friendly Gobbler Country staff members gaze into their crystal balls and take a swing at predicting the Hokies' 2014 record.

Ah, the waning days of the offseason. Hopes are high, optimism abounds, and for perhaps the only time all season, all things are possible. Fans can't wait to tear open the packages containing freshmen both red-shirt and true, unwrapping those shiny new toys that are certain to be the missing link between last season's disappointments and their future crystal ball hoisting ceremony. Surely, all returning players have spent their off-season immersed in their playbook and eating weights. Coaches have networked. Facilities have been upgraded. New fan swag has been ordered. THIS is the year.

At least until week two.

Weather excluded, things rarely change in Blacksburg. But, the Hokies enter their 2014 campaign as a giant, 72 point font question mark. Defensively, everyone in America knows what to expect from Coach Bud Foster's LPD: lightning quick rush defensive ends, undersized but tenacious defensive tackles, a linebacking corps no one has ever heard of, but somehow seem to be solid tacklers and heady football players, and an elite secondary that perennially reloads rather than rebuilds.

Offensively.......?

Here's what we know: the Hokies have massively underachieved on offense for the past few seasons. The lack of an "attractive" offensive system led to a lack of quality position-specific football players at receiver and that lack of talent was put on full display all season in 2013. The offensive line was supposed to have been temporarily repaired with duct tape and zip ties under Coach Jeff Grimes until he could get his highly-regarded commits in the fold and up to speed, but he bolted for LSU after only one season in the Burg. The VT running game rested solely on the broad shoulders of polarizing quarterback Logan Thomas, as running back JC Coleman spun his wheels and Trey Edmunds could rarely find daylight after the Alabama game.

Today, Coach Aaron Moorehead has some shiny new toys at receiver in Florida's Isaiah Ford (6-1, 174, Trinity Christian) and Maryland's Cam Phillips (6-1, 190, DeMatha) who have drawn rave reviews due to their performances in closed scrimmages and tight-lipped practices. JC Coleman (5-7, 194) is reportedly looking the best he has since he first reported to campus, and he is joined on the depth chart not by Edmunds, but by a trio of true freshmen: Pennsylvania's Shai McKenzie (5-11, 221, Washington H.S.), Travon McMillian (6-0, 200, Hylton H.S.), and Marshawn Williams (5-11, 229, Phoebus H.S.). The offensive line-now with Coach Stacy Searels at the helm-looks much the same, with the exception of r-Sr. David Wang (6-2, 308), who returns from injury and r-So. Augie Conte (6-6, 295) taking over at right guard for the injury-retired Brent Benedict. Over the weekend, Hokienation was let in on perhaps the worst-kept secret in Blacksburg, Texas Tech transfer QB, r-Jr. Michael Brewer will be the Hokies' starting signal caller in 2014.

The key detail missing is what exactly the Hokies will be doing on offense this season. Clearly, Brewer isn't meant to be Logan Thomas, but will he be expected to be more Sean Glennon or Bryan Randall? Will VT still be utilizing pre-snap motions to help the QB identify coverage? Does Searles have the right guys up front to be able to support the power run game that Beamer covets? Or will Loeffler be able to open it up and legitimately spread the field, taking advantage of the playmakers the Hokies have at the tight end position with returning-from-IR r-Jr. Ryan Malleck (6-5, 242), So. Kalvin Cline (6-4, 240), and much-heralded r-Fr. Bucky Hodges (6-6, 244)?

After two completely disheartening seasons of mediocrity, can the Hokies pull it all together and return to being the perennial 10-win team that nearly all fans loved to hate?

First we have our Pundits Picks table, courtesy of new contributor vahokie.

Opponent

Vahokie

Hokie Mark

1Iron

SoCal

Hokie

Justin Cates

Flyers13

Mikem92

Maroon

Hiker

Ro24kt

TNman

gifted idiot

Animated

Hokie

Jamesm2

Ricky the

Dragon

W&M

W

W

W

W

W

W

W

W

W

W

W

W

W

W

OSU

L

L

L

L

L

L

L

W

L

L

L

L

L

L

ECU

W

W

W

W

W

W

W

W

W

W

L

W

W

W

GT

W

W

W

W

W

W

W

W

W

W

W

W

W

W

WMU

W

W

W

W

W

W

W

W

W

W

W

W

W

W

UNC

W

W

L

L

L

W

L

W

L

L

L

L

L

L

Pitt

W

W

L

L

L

L

W

W

L

L

W

L

L

L

Miami

W

W

L

W

W

W

W

W

W

L

W

W

W

L

BC

W

W

W

W

W

W

W

W

W

W

W

W

W

W

Duke

W

W

W

W

W

W

W

W

W

W

W

W

W

W

WF

W

W

W

W

W

W

W

W

W

W

W

W

W

W

UVA

W

W

W

W

W

W

W

W

W

W

W

W

W

W

Overall Record
(Conf)

11-1
(8-0)

11-1
(8-0)

8-4
(5-3)

9-3
(6-2)

9-3

(6-2)

10-2
(7-1)

10-2
(7-1)

12-0
(8-0)

9-3
(6-2)

8-4
(5-3)

9-3
(7-1)

9-3
(6-2)

9-3
(6-2)

8-4
(5-3)

What will the Hokies' 2014 record be?

giftedidiot

Record: 9-3

Wins: William & Mary, Georgia Tech, Western Michigan, Pitt, Miami, Boston College, Duke, Wake Forest, UVA

Losses: Ohio State, East Carolina, North Carolina

The Word: Given the loss of QB Braxton Miller, if Ohio State was coming to Lane, I'd pick the upset, but asking for a W in the ‘shoe is a little steep, I think. Bud Foster > Paul Johnson. Coming in, Pitt will look better than they are because of their insanely weak schedule. Miami is a toss-up, but I don't pick against VT on Thursdays in Lane. The fellas will want revenge on BC because of 2013's debacle, and they should've beaten Duke last season. Look for Bud Foster to have a much better plan for containing Duke QB Anthony Boone's scrambling. Wake is in rebuild mode, and I say Ol' CFB makes it 11 straight against the ‘Hoos, inching Coach Mike London ever-closer to the door in Charlottesville.

mikem92

Record: 10-2

Wins: William & Mary, East Carolina, Georgia Tech, Western Michigan, Pitt, Miami, BC, Duke, Wake Forest, UVA

Losses: at Ohio State, at North Carolina

The Word: With Michael Brewer at the helm replacing Logan Thomas, the hope is that there is finally some consistent Quarterback play to support our perennial top 10 defense in Blacksburg. I think that the Hokies will play in the ACC Championship game this year, even after losing to a team that we should not lose to in North Carolina on the road on October 4th. Although Ohio State lost their All-American candidate at Quarterback, Braxton Miller, their offense and defense will simply be too much to overcome on the road in two weeks. The toughest team on our schedule besides the Buckeyes, is Miami. However, since we play the 'canes at home on a Thursday, don't expect us to trip up there. All roads lead to Charlotte in December, where we will play Florida State in the conference championship for a chance at a spot in the inaugural College Football Playoff.

MaroonHiker

Record: 12-0

Wins: That would be all comers; by a hair at the Shoe.

Losses: Nil. Relatively injury free season.

The Word: Beamerball returns. Nasty, salty, speedy defense with ballhawking corners. Very opportunistic team -- like the glory days of Beamer's era. Marshawn revives running game, with help from Shai.  Passing game efficient with Ford a big threat. TEs become central part of VT offense. OL  improves as season goes along, after courageous, determined performance in Columbus. I will be the first to eat crow.  Or the last.  Somebody's got to be a homer and dreamer.

1Iron

Record: 8-4

Wins: William & Mary, Georgia Tech, Western Michigan, Boston College, Duke, Wake Forest, UVA

Losses: Ohio State UNC, Pitt, Miami

The Word: Brewer goes down in 2nd half v UNC lost for year...Leal abysmal gets hurt v Duke...Ford salvages season with victory over UVA thanks to last second FG...Durkin had to burn shirt...Buds LPD AGAIN saves what should have been 10 win season. OL ineffective and THE network calls for imminent change. Kirby Smart hired in December leads VT to bowl win over Tubs & Cincy in Belk Bowl.

SoCalHokie

Record: 9-3

Wins: W&M, ECU,Georgia Tech, Western Michigan, Miami, BC, Duke, Wake Forest, Virginia

Losses: Ohio State, North Carolina, Pitt

The Word: I see this as the most likely outcome this season. I think at some point Brewer will inevitably get injured and Leal will, for better or worse, have to take the snaps. Ford and Stanford should elevate whoever is at quarterback. Not sure what to make of the running game yet, hopefully someone emerges from the six pack to give the position some stability. Obviously Ohio State is the toughest game of the year even without Braxton Miller. I see the bump in the road being back to back games against North Carolina and Pitt, then they will run the table including a win over Miami to finish 9-3.

ro24kt

Record: 9-3

Wins: W&M, ECU, GT, Western Michigan, Miami, Boston College, Duke, Wake Forest, UVA

Losses: OSU, Pitt, UNC

Word: The offense struggles to find an identity early on and the defense can't return enough INTs to keep them from losing to OSU.  Our terrible0-3, last win was Michael Vick's freshman yearrecord at Heinz Field will continue.  UNC surprises us, again.  All is not lost though as a 6-2 conference record sets us up nicely for a (likely) shot at Florida State for the ACC CG and then a decent bowl game.  A 10 win season is possible!

JustCates

Record: 9-4

Wins: William & Mary, East Carolina, Ga. Tech, Western Michigan, Miami, BC, Duke, Wake, UVA

Losses: Ohio State, UNC, Pitt, Random bowl game

The Word: I think this season can be a step forward for the program after two rough transitional seasons. The talent is there on both sides of the ball, it's just young and unproven. I really don't remember a season with this many freshman and sophomores in the two deep. OSU is an obvious challenge and we never play well at Pittsburgh. Carolina should actually be good this season and realistically we'll probably drop a head scratcher somewhere but I couldn't decide which game it would be. Don't sleep on Duke. They won't take as big a step back this season as many people expect.