clock menu more-arrow no yes mobile

Filed under:

Virginia Tech Hokies: Preseason look at the 2016 Effort

Let's look at the schedule for the 2016 Hokie Football Season and see what we are getting into. Liberty already has a countdown clock to their kickoff with us. Lots of new things going on in our world, but lots of old and painful things, too.

Scott Stadium in 2015.  The Season hinged on that game.  Will it again?
Scott Stadium in 2015. The Season hinged on that game. Will it again?
Geoff Burke-USA TODAY Sports

The 2016 Hokie football season is two months away that includes the Fall practices which will start up in very early August.  The One Foot Down SB Nation writing team have been paying some serious attention to all of Notre Dame's opponents, but what is interesting is the level of respectful interest coming from them in regard to Virginia Tech.  Their reviews of the offense, defense, and coach have been more than fair and mostly accurate.  It's always interesting to see a writer eschew homerism to make a reasonable attempt at objectivity.  It's Notre Dame so they have some room to be objective, I suppose.

This season, our toughest opponent will be Notre Dame.  Yes, I hear the Racetrack boosters.  No, guys, Tennessee isn't as good as Notre Dame and the ND game will probably mean more because it will be so late in the season when wins are important and often in short supply.

So, in that spirit of looking ahead (and following my promise to refrain from WAG predictions) let's take a look at the schedule for 2016 and see what we might be up against.

Virginia Tech's 2016 Schedule:






Sat., Sep 3, 2016


12:30 p.m.

ACC Network

Lane Stadium

Sat., Sep 10, 2016

vs. Tennessee

8 p.m.


Bristol Motor Speedway, Bristol, Tenn.

Sat., Sep 17, 2016

Boston College *

3:30 p.m.


Lane Stadium

Sat., Sep 24, 2016

East Carolina


Lane Stadium

Sat., Oct 8, 2016

at North Carolina *


Chapel Hill, N.C.

Sat., Oct 15, 2016

at Syracuse *


Syracuse, N.Y.

Thu., Oct 20, 2016

Miami *

7:30 p.m.


Lane Stadium

Thu., Oct 27, 2016

at Pittsburgh *

7:30 p.m.


Pittsburgh, Pa.

Sat., Nov 5, 2016

at Duke *


Durham, N.C.

Sat., Nov 12, 2016

Georgia Tech *


Lane Stadium

Sat., Nov 19, 2016

at Notre Dame

3:30 p.m.


Notre Dame, Ind.

Sat., Nov 26, 2016

Virginia *


Lane Stadium

ACC Championship

Sat., Dec 3, 2016

Atlantic vs. Coastal


Bank of America Stadium, Charlotte, N.C.

Game 1: Home against Liberty.  Liberty is a Division 1 FCS team from the Big South Conference.  Head Coach Turner Gill has lead the program to great success, including a 2014 playoff birth and the last five seasons of a winning record.  Though they struggled last season, the program is solid, and puts a quality team on the field with a real chance of winning each of its football games.  The Flames look to show up at Lane Stadium set to do some ambush football and challenge a new coach and reviving program.  It's not going to be a push over FCS game, and a JMU repeat should be a vivid image in every player's mind.

Game 2: The big PR Event at the Race Track against Tennessee.  The Vols are in rebuilding mode, the program has struggled of late with several years of a coaching mayhem and other issues that led them to the depths of the SEC East for a few seasons.  That sort of situation makes for a difficult evaluation.  We have, however, seen Butch Jones on more than a few occasions.  He knows the #LPD and even without a clear picture of what the Tech offense is going to offer, he's going to have his team prepared to take the infield of the racetrack.  Hope everyone has their binocular lenses cleaned and fresh batteries in the power ear.

Game 3: Boston College comes to Lane Stadium for their ACC opener, and all bets are off in regard to that matchup.  Steve Addazio returns as the head coach.  The program's offense is still a big question mark; but after last season's home loss at Chestnut Hill there will be some serious revenge emotions on the energy meter.  BC lists us as one of their rivals, and given the fact that they have clocked us more than a few times, at home, even on Thursday nights, the fame isn't going to be a walk through.  This one will probably mean more for the winner than in many of the past seasons.  Every ACC win is going to be critical this coming season.

Game 4: Ruffin McNeill is inexplicably gone, but Game 4, against East Carolina is a pure slobberknocker inducing grudge match.  ECU has had our number for too long, and any pretense about this not being a rivalry, or just being a walk over with trap implications need to be tossed out the window.  ECU is rebuilding, they have a new coaching staff, and so do we... well mostly... but neither team is going to forget the last five years, nor we had better be well prepared for a first rate opponent.  Even if ECU is struggling elsewhere, they get fired up when they face the Hokies.

Game 5: We have a situation in which we have found ourselves to be a bit short of the ideal.  Namely that after a grudge match at Lane with ECU, the team travels to Chapel Hill for another fist fight.  This one is going to be a serious revenge match for the three point OT loss in Lane Stadium last season.  The game last year was a microcosm of what was wrong with last season; a defense that just couldn't close the deal and an offense that lacked consistency and daring.  NCAA Overtimes are defensive affairs, and all it takes is one mistake or a single let down.  The Hokie D ran out of gas in 2015's matchup.  Let's see if the motive for some vindication is enough to spur some offensive dash.

Game 6: The Hokies return to the Carrier Dome and ‘Cuse, who used to be Orangemen but suddenly achieved just Orange status, maybe in competition with Stanford for oddly justified color coordinated team names.  There is little or no love lost between the teams, but the matchup hasn't happened since we parted company with the Big East.  Let us hope the renewed contests don't end up looking like our standoff with Pitt.  Syracuse isn't as good as it once was; but neither are we.  We'll see how it goes.

Game 7: We get a five day break between Syracuse and hosting Miami for a Thursday Night kickoff at Lane Stadium.  Frankly, the scheduler needed to be slapped for this one.  Five days rest and prep for an FCS team netted us a loss.  Thursday night or not, this needed to be a ‘bye' week where the team had some down time to deal with the effects of the long road trip, and the inevitable nicks and bruises of midseason.  Miami has a new coach, but it's still Miami, and it'd be a tough competitor with some rest.  The short week is going to make this game brutal.

Game 8: Pitt at the "Big Ketchup" on a Thursday night on national TV.  That combination has not been very kind to the old Fighting Gobblers.  Pitt is a dangerous football team with a legitimate defensive genius at the helm.  We have lost two in a row to them, and that's just embarrassing since both games were low scoring low point differential affairs.  It also means that maybe, with an actual offense, we might have a chance to right the ship and kill the Big Ketchup, pro venue curse that has haunted the Hokies for eons.

Game 9: Tech gets on the buses to head to Raleigh-Durham to play Duke.  There once was a time when that wasn't so spooky a drive, but since David Cutcliffe took over the team, Duke seems to have rejected the concept of being the Coastal Division's basement dweller.  Last season's quadruple overtime was one for both schools' record books.  It is also one for Tech's book of agony and poor choices as aggressiveness left the OT periods more to the defense to try to stop increasingly difficult offensive action close to the goal line.  The Hokie coaching staff needs to look at the film and not worry as much about the quality of play, but in the quality of the OT play selection and execution.  This was the first of the two OT losses that the Hokies should have won, and if they had, the 8 and 4 final result would have netted both a better bowl and a better feeling about the transitioning program.

Game 10: The old hot rod shows up at Lane Stadium.  The Bumble Bees did not have a good season last year, at all.  Paul Johnson was really on the hot seat, and it's a good bet that if his past tenure hadn't been so good, he'd have been somewhere else this year.  Georgia Tech needs to rebuild, and retool.  They just don't have the personnel to sustain their option offense. I don't see Johnson sitting around and crying in his beer.  Georgia Tech is going to want to win and given the nature of last season is going to come prepared with lots of ambush and counter to normal plays that always bite us hard.  (Updated due to author's complete blank on a major part of the schedule...)

Game 11: Notre Dame, in South Bend, on national TV.  A team that we have never played before -€” even in the early era, and a situation for which there is little in the way of good grace to be had.  This is the last away game of the regular season.  It's going to be against a deep opponent with completely uncertain players (since 10 games into the season there will be injuries and some will be critical).  The One Foot Down crew is paying attention to us -€” other teams too, but we are garnering some serious interest.  Game 10s are often make or break for any college football team.  It's the game before rivalry weekend.  There are lots of non-conference games, and classic non-conference rivalry games.  Then, there is this game.  There is a good possibility that Tech will be facing a test to keep bowl eligible against a team that is a proven traditional powerhouse.  One hopes that the best of both worlds are in play with this one.  Can we get an ambush win?  More importantly is this a ‘must win' situation given the circumstances?

GAME 12: I would hope that we weren't facing Bronco Mendenhall and the Cavaliers with a booger bowl hinging on the outcome of the game.  Virginia is likely to be an entirely new program with different everything.  Other than out right partisan home desire, the normally close Commonwealth Cup game is likely to be both lively and surprising.  All bets are off for this one.  Virginia is tired of being embarrassed, and both coaches have signature wins at stake; especially Mendenhall who is not carrying a lengthy chain of failure shame behind him. (corrected - Mendenhall has a solid record.  It's the Hoos who haven't won the Cup in an age. -ed. and auth.)

We won't talk about post season, it's not relevant for this article.  Actually, it isn't relevant at all except for the people who want it all and want it now.  Tech is going to have to play each game as if it were the last game and the season is on the line.   The schedule is not an easy one, there are lots of evenly matched teams; and more than a few that given the changes in the ACC's quality of play, are impossible to predict.  There are no gimme games in this schedule, not a one.