The most anticipated game ever at Lane Stadium is almost here in the rematch between the Virginia Tech Hokies, and defending national champion and preseason #1 Ohio State Buckeyes.
Classes don’t start back up at Virginia Tech till Tuesday, and everything this weekend will only be building up to Monday night from college football all day Saturday to the Brad Paisley concert Sunday night and parking lots opening for tailgates at 7AM.
As we begin to build up to the big game, here’s a look at three Hokies to keep an eye on in this rematch with Ohio State.
QB Michael Brewer
Last year, Michael Brewer rose up in the big game, and while he didn’t put up great numbers, he was productive in a tough environment. Against the Buckeyes, Brewer was 23 for 36 with 199 passing yards, 2 touchdowns, and 2 interceptions as he led the Hokies to victory against Ohio State and into the playoff conversation for a week.
Brewer would struggle after that game, but only had five interceptions in his last eight games with no games of more than one interception in that time span.
Now, Brewer has had a full offseason in the offense, and has shown a lot more comfort throughout spring practice and training camp. Brewer has been putting everything he’s got into making as much improvement as possible ahead of this season.
One of the biggest things Brewer has improved on is the arc he can put on his passes. If Brewer can do that against Ohio State, Bucky Hodges could become almost impossible to defend in the red zone as someone that can go up higher than anyone else on the field between the two teams.
The Hokies will need Michael Brewer to avoid mistakes, and give the Hokies enough points against a good Ohio State defense, but one that is without elite defensive end Joey Bosa. If Brewer can be reliable in this game, the Hokies will have a good chance at pulling off the upset.
DT Luther Maddy
Injuries cost Luther Maddy in his first senior season but now, Maddy gets a second chance to finish off his collegiate career the right way after receiving a medical redshirt last season. Maddy is back, and many around ACC country recognize that the big defensive tackle will be ready to play with a chip on his shoulder as he earned a spot on the 2015 Preseason All-ACC team.
Last season, Maddy was seen as the top defensive tackle in the ACC, and while injuries have made fans forget that, don’t be surprised if Maddy proves that he is the best defensive tackle in the ACC. Maddy has slimmed down to 286 pounds, and seems to have some more speed and explosiveness at this weight along with keeping his power.
Maddy will be looking to prove a statement that he is back at full strength, and is someone that NFL scouts should keep an eye on as a potential third or fourth round pick, or earlier depending on how well he plays at a slightly lower weight.
This year, Ohio State’s offensive line enters with a lot more experience, but that doesn’t count in for the fact that the Hokies’ defensive linemen have also improved including Maddy. Maddy will face a big challenge on the interior against a good Ohio State interior line along with the talented Ezekiel Elliott.
Elliott is seen as a Heisman frontrunner and can make some big plays when running the ball right up the gut at the middle of the opposing defense. Containing Elliott will be critical, and the Hokies have the defensive tackles to potentially do that with Maddy and Corey Marshall.
Luther Maddy will come out with a chip on his shoulder, and has the potential to be a difference maker in the battle in the trenches to try and contain Elliott.
CB Brandon Facyson
Brandon Facyson was still fairly healthy against the Buckeyes last season, and made some big plays in that game. However, Facyson’s injuries showed the next week as East Carolina’s Cam Worthy absolutely dominated him with fans and coaches quickly realizing that something wasn’t right with Facyson.
Facyson received a medical redshirt though he did also suffer a broken leg in December in what was a very tough season for the Georgia native.
The Hokies made sure that Facyson fully recovered, and coaches have said that athletically, he look as good as he did during his freshman season. If Facyson is completely healthy, Virginia Tech should have the best starting cornerback duo in college football with Preseason All-American Kendall Fuller and Facyson.
Fuller will likely match up against Ohio State’s top receiver Michael Thomas while Facyson could end up moving around to face a couple of different guys due to his size, athleticism, and ball skills including Ohio State TE Nick Vannett, or WRs James Clark, Johnnie Dixon, and Terry McLaurin with Noah Brown out for the season, and Jalin Marshall and Corey Smith suspended.
Facyson will likely want to prove that he is one of the top 6 to 8 cornerbacks in the country, and that he is a defensive playmaker on the outside in man and zone coverage. Facyson will also look to begin to rebuild his draft stock as someone that has the talent and athleticism to be a future first round pick.
Having Brandon Facyson healthy again is great news for Hokie fans as he will be ready to have a big game against the Buckeyes.