The Virginia Tech Hokies go back into the primetime college football spotlight with a Friday Night Lights showdown at Lane Stadium against the N.C. State Wolfpack. Both teams lost their ACC openers last week and are looking for a win in this intra-divisional ACC matchup.
With the game not too far away now, here’s our three players to watch against the Wolfpack.
QBs Michael Brewer and Brenden Motley
So this is kind of cheating but at this point, it is unknown whether Michael Brewer will play though it seems likely now that he listed as probable. However, Motley will likely play some in this game whether Brewer is able to make the start or if Motley makes his fourth straight start.
If Brewer does start, the Hokies will be able to run a much more complicated passing attack that looked very good against Ohio State. Brewer brings a lot more touch in the passing game that can help the Hokies take better advantage of Isaiah Ford, Bucky Hodges, Ryan Malleck, and Cam Phillips.
Brewer has also been able to throw some in practice for the last few weeks to keep his rhythm while also getting to go through regular practice drills this week. Rhythm will be important for Brewer whenever he returns, but the fact that he has been able to throw with the receivers in meaningful ways for more than this week is a great sign.
If Brewer does play, the Hokies will likely use Motley a lot out of the “Wild Turkey” package, but likely also add some play action passes after Motley has proven himself to be a good enough passer. Motley is definitely a tough running quarterback who has proven himself as a passer to force defenses to put only 7 or 8 in the box instead of 9 when he touches the field.
If Brewer can’t play, the Hokies will need Motley to find ways to get rid of the ball and avoid sacks, and avoid the three interceptions that he had against Pittsburgh. If Motley struggles like he did against Pittsburgh, it could be a long day, but the Christiansburg native will be ready for a second chance to make an impact under the lights at Lane Stadium.
However, Motley seems ready to bounce back this week whatever his role may be.
CB Mook Reynolds
The Hokies made some moves this week with the most prominent change being to move top nickel cornerback Greg Stroman to wide receiver. The move probably seems odd to those who haven’t watched the Hokies play much this season, but Virginia Tech may actually be making a strong upgrade at that spot with the change.
The man that may make his first career start if the Hokies run a 4-2-5 defense is true freshman Mook Reynolds.
Reynolds was one of the top signees from Virginia Tech’s Class of 2015, and arrived early with the goal of earning playing time in the fall. Reynolds has received limited game time so far but when he has touched the field, the freshman cornerback has looked pretty solid, and has definitely been playing better than Stroman.
If Kendall Fuller leaves for the NFL as many expect, Reynolds will likely be one of the Hokies’ two starting cornerbacks with Brandon Facyson next season. It also wouldn’t be surprising to see him take one of the two starting boundary cornerback spots over current starter Terrell Edmunds and senior Donovan Riley.
N.C. State will likely look to test Reynolds early to see how good he is, but don’t be surprised to see Reynolds make some big plays under the Friday Night Lights in Blacksburg.
WR Greg Stroman
Greg Stroman has made the move to wide receiver from nickel cornerback after getting some snaps at wide receiver in the Military Bowl and over the course of this past offseason. This week, the Hokies made the move permanent with putting Stroman at wide receiver.
The Hokies have not been able to find a number 3 wide receiver at all this season with the emergence of Reynolds allowing the Hokies to see if Stroman can be that guy at wide receiver.
In terms of athleticism, Stroman has the skill set with great speed and acceleration along with being fairly elusive with the ball in his hands. However, Stroman is probably fairly raw in many areas as a wide receivers though it is unknown how long the Hokies have had Stroman practicing with the wide receivers.
It is far from certain that Stroman will play much in this game other than in his normal punt return role. If the Hokies do use Stroman, hopefully it will not be jet sweeps out of formations that expose the jet sweep to just about everyone in the crowd.
Stroman make take some time adjusting to his position, but we’ll have to see if he can make an impact at wide receiver.