There are many unanswered questions for the Hokies this Spring with a new head coach, staff and QB, but this is my shot at defining the 4 that need answering by the time the Spring game kicks off. These questions are in no particular order because they are of equal importance.
Who will be the QB?
Virginia Tech's struggles over the past 4 seasons cannot solely be blamed on a dip in quarterback play, but there is a strong correlation between the two. Michael Brewer and Brendan Motley split reps last season and neither one seemed to gain traction in getting the Hokies up and down the field. Before Brewer arrived it was the Logan Thomas era in Blacksburg, which had its ups and downs due to inconsistent throws from the future pro.
Justin Fuente and Brad Cornelsen have said that all of the quarterbacks in Blacksburg will get equal reps out of the gate and those who earn them will receive more while those who underperform will see less. Competition fuels growth much quicker than anything else and to be honest this might be the first true quarterback competition since Tyrod Taylor and Sean Glennon split reps in 2008. For the sake of arguing this competition is realistically going to be between junior college transfer Jerod Evans, Sophomore Dwayne Lawson and Senior Brendan Motley. Motley has the most experience, Lawson has the best measurables and livest arm, but Evans has a little bit of everything, which makes him my favorite to take the job.
Who will be the backup RB?
Travon McMillian was the Hokies first 1,000 rusher since David Wilson and looks to continue his breakout season by putting up bigger numbers in the new offense. The largest question is who will lineup behind Travon on the depth chart heading into the fall. Redshirt Freshman Deshawn McClease is a speedy back with great field presence that should do well in the new offense. Sam Rogers is the true leader of this team and will help add depth in the backfield as well. Shai McKenzie and Marshawn Williams are both coming off of injury, which will limit their contact this spring, but hopefully one of them can provide depth and production come fall.
Who will be playing MLB?
Bud Foster's defense was not a Bud Foster type defense this past season and one reason why was the inconsistency at the Mike linebacker position. Andrew Motuapuaka (AM) failed to read defenses effectively and often over pursued, which led to opposing running backs having their ways with the Hokies once they got to the second level. Consistency will be key for the entire linebacking corp, which is not the most talented group on the field. However, just because they are not physically gifted doesn't matter much if they can develop into students of the games and play smarter than their opponents. Sophomore Carson Lydon and Junior Sean Huelskamp will provide depth this spring and into the fall since Bud seems hell bent on keeping AM in there even though he struggles.
How will a very young defense fare?
The Hokies defense is GREEN at all three levels. Defensive-end will see 3 inexperienced players in the two deep. redshirt Freshmen Trevon Hill, Houshaun Gaines and Darius Fullwood will have to grow up quickly if Bud wants to rush just four and have any kind of impact. All three of these players are talented and versatile, but experience will be key as the spring progresses. Linebacker, as discussed above, will be competitive this spring, but I expect AM and Tremaine Edmunds to be the starters at those positions. In the secondary Bud has made some changes going into the spring and they are changes I really like. Mook Reynolds and Chuck Clark will get first-team reps at the safety positions while Terrel Edmunds and Adonis Alexander will be playing Corner to start the spring. Greg Stroman will be playing at nickel and corner while Mook Reynolds will also get time at nickel too. Brandon Facyson is coming off of injury and will need to play catch up heading into the Spring.