Most college football programs around the country can turn to youth as an excuse for loses and down years, but Virginia Tech, while young, might be trending in the other direction due to their youth. Last season the Hokies finished a lackluster campaign ranked in the bottom half of the ACC, but also played one of the youngest rosters in the country with well over a dozen freshmen seeing action throughout the season. The youth movement proved somewhat productive with Isaiah Ford, Cam Philips, Bucky Hodges, Marshawn Williams and Shai Mckenzie tallying up breakout performances to lead the Hokies offense, despite several unfortunate injuries.
Moving into 2015, the Hokies are looking to get back on track (9-10 wins) despite having more and more young, talented players on the field, but will they be able to? There is no doubt that this roster is capable, but youth is a funny thing even when it is talented. As we all remember, the young Hokies beat eventual National Champions Ohio State, but then fell to East Carolina the next week. This inconsistency is the most prevalent symptom of a young football team, but will that inconsistency change with a year gone by and with the addition of even younger players that will more than likely be thrown into the fray?
The #Hokies 2015 preview from @AthlonSports is out: http://t.co/tEdzSJACTy— TechSideline.com (@TechSideline) May 27, 2015
There are dozens of questions that I can ask and even more speculative responses I can give, but there is definitely some things to be excited about when it comes to how good these young players can become and in my opinion will become. While I do not want to disregard this upcoming campaign, which I will get to in a moment, but the way I see it is that everything is leading to one event. The young Hokies will be young no more and the sporting world will have it's eyes glued to the small city of Bristol, Tennessee when the Hokies face the Tennessee Volunteers in front of an estimated 130,000+. While this event is more spectacle than college football game, the implications are huge for Virginia Tech. A win could vault either team back into national relevance for an extended period of time, while a loss might mean more mediocre football for either side.
Even more importantly, maybe, is what could a solid 2015 campaign mean going into the Battle at Bristol?
<blockquote class="twitter-tweet" lang="en"><p lang="en" dir="ltr">What do advanced stats have to say about Virginia Tech and can the Buckeyes get revenge? <a href="http://t.co/WajWXC8feP">http://t.co/WajWXC8feP</a> <a href="http://t.co/JVhLH2Mdij">pic.twitter.com/JVhLH2Mdij</a></p>— Land-Grant Holy Land (@Landgrant33) <a href="https://twitter.com/Landgrant33/status/599917305771008000">May 17, 2015</a></blockquote>
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On Labor Day evening the Hokies will welcome the defending national champion Ohio State Buckeyes to Lane Stadium. This game in my mind will not break the Hokies 2015 campaign, obviously, but it very well could propel this squad back into the upper-tier of D-1 college football. Last year the young Hokies were able to shock the largest crowd at the Shoe in Columbus, but then were up and down the rest of the season. This season is different and their is even more confidence from the Hokies coaching staff.
The Hokies will likely boast a similar defense to the one that beat the Buckeyes a year ago, but also a defense with more confidence having come off a very good 2014 season. The offense on the other hand is a little unknown and most of the success will rely on QB Michael Brewer to take care of the ball, which will take care of the team. This spring Brewer completed a high percentage of his passes and really cut back on his turnovers, but I have reservations about how that will transfer when he's forced to face opposing teams.
What do these two huge matchups in the near future mean for Virginia Tech? Well, I think the programs future is pinned on the success of the Battle at Bristol since it will most likely be the beginning of the end for Frank Beamer as the head coach, but I think consistency and motivated play will aid the Hokies in the long run. Beating Ohio State, again, would be great for the Hokies, but beating the ACC Coastal is the most important thing and should be the focus of the fan base. So my words of wisdom for all Hokies is to keep things in perspective and enjoy watching these young playmakers play because there is a bright future and with some luck maybe a memorable one too.
Let us know what you think?