The Gobbler Country Football writers have been challenged to answer a few questions from the outside world. We accept, and encourage you all to answer in the comments, as well. This is a critically important season in Coach Fuente’s career. It’s also critically important in the transition of Virginia Tech away from the latter few years of the Beamer Era. Let’s get down to brass tacks and see what occurs to us.
1) Who is your most important player on offense this season?
Bryan: Tre Turner. For me, it is easy to say Ryan Willis, however, the most talented player on offense is Turner. He is good. Like really, really good. If he can play every game, he has a chance to break plenty of records.
John: The Quarterback - presumably Ryan Willis, though the real answer will be Christian Darrisaw, Silas Dzansi, Zachariah Hoyt, Doug Nester, and Lectius Smith (The presumed starting O-Line).
Conclusion: There isn’t a real consensus number 1 important offensive player. The Quarterback competition is in full swing, and the rumors are that Hendon Hooker has made some big strides. He’s pushing Willis really hard, and certainly has a slight speed advantage when running. So, we’ll just have to settle for the fact that the Offense needs to be really good this season, and the entire thing needs to perform well.
2) Who is your most important player on defense this season?
Bryan: Jarrod Hewitt. Sure, he isn’t the most talented player on the defense. However, he is the team’s top defensive tackle and it’s a thin group as it relates to experience. The Hokies can ill-afford an injury to Hewitt. Guys like Dax Hollifield, TyJuan Garbutt and Caleb Farley could make this list, too.
John: Reggie Floyd - He is the senior, the defensive signal caller, and the captain of the secondary. He’s going to be responsible for playing both Rover and Whip techniques, and keep a young secondary focused. A close second will be the team of Rayshard Ashby and Dax Hollifield at the linebacker positions.
Conclusion: Bryan is thinking inside, and that’s a real challenge. Hewitt is, no doubt, critical. There is just the reality that he’s one of six to eight players who all must step it up with the 2018 collapse constantly on their minds. So really, this one looks like a two prong must perform. The Secondary was flat awful last season. It was, first eviscerated, and second, totally inexperienced. So on this one Bryan wins. The key to the Hokie defense will be its presumed weakest link… and Hewitt is the most experienced player on that unit. Maybe the most important “player” is Charley Wiles…
3) What should be the biggest change between last year and this year?
Bryan: The biggest change is the Hokies must be able to get a running game going. And I think they will. The offensive line is so much better and there aren’t just five good linemen, this group is deep. And, Tech added talent in the backfield, too.
John: The base answer is experience; the real answer is comity... This is more of a recovery year than most people thought. The recent revelations about the really poisonous off field “events” make harmony and comradery the most important change for this season. We’ll discuss how the “ethos” affected the “pathos” of the team last season, just not here.
Conclusion: Look, regardless of the talent on the field, and in the depth chart, it’s critical to have a team of players all rowing in the same direction, and not working purposely against the purposes of the program. Something really dark happened between the end of the 2017 season and the pre-Spring ramp up. It seems that the ‘problems’ have finally been drained off. So, we’ll stick with the proposition that this team needs to have stepped beyond the dark, negative energy from the year before 2019 Spring practice wrapped.
4) What is the most important game on this schedule, and why?
Bryan: Virginia. Sure, there are plenty of other important games, but last year everyone expected UVa to end the streak. It did not happen. People are really expecting it this year. Virginia is much better, for sure, but the Hokies should also be better. This game could also decide the Coastal.
John: It’s college football, every game is “the most important game on the schedule”. But oddly the first game might just be the most critical as to which path this team is prepared to take. Starting against Boston College puts us behind the ACC Coastal “Eight Ball” before the season really gets underway. One wonders what the ACC people were actually really thinking… if they were thinking at all… when they cooked up this nonsense.
Conclusion: Bryan grabs this one. No matter what is the status of the W/L in general or the ACC in particular, T-H-E game of the season for the Hokies is always the Commonwealth Cup Game. Yes, it could mean the Coastal crown, or it just remains a point of pride, but Tech is going to have to paint Scott Stadium Chicago Maroon and Burn Orange the day after Thanksgiving. (BTW, it is about way more than just football for that game.)
5) What is your prediction for W/L record and postseason destination?
Bryan: I may be a little optimistic, but with this schedule, I see a 9-3 regular-season record with a third-tier bowl game.
John: IF the Boston College season kickoff is a winner, it could be anywhere between 12-0 and 9-3. I don’t see us going below that unless the BC game is a struggle or flat out disaster.
Conclusion: This Virginia Tech Hokies football team has the potential to light the afterburner, win the Coastal, and maybe even nab a win in Charlotte. It also has the potential to struggle to stay above .500 (Though I do find that much less likely, now.) Either way I think that we are looking at a solid shot at facing whoever (like you think it’s someone other than Clemson, at this date) wins the Atlantic. The big challenges will be winning the first game without struggling, then opening with a thumping win against Duke… and a solid win against Pitt on Senior Night. There isn’t much point in belaboring the reality that UVA is a complete cypher beyond it’s only remaining offensive threat; Bryce Perkins. (Personally, I do not believe that after last year’s come from behind overtime triumph that this Hokies team is going to lose to UVA this season.)
Now, you have our opinions and guesses. On August 31st, sometime in the late evening of late Summer, we will get an indication of how things might go.