Our roundtable preview continues on with part two of our series today with Sean Labar of The Virginian-Pilot, Mike McDaniel of Inside The ACC, and Dan Caro of treadmillhorse.com joining us once again. Today’s question is this: how much offensive success will the Hokies have in year 1 under Justin Fuente?
Editor’s Note: The opinions of our guests were made before Justin Fuente named Jerod Evans the starting quarterback.
Tim Thomas (Follow the site @techlunchpaild)
Virginia Tech’s offense should only improve now with Justin Fuente and Brad Cornelsen bringing the spread to Blacksburg. The fact that it took Virginia Tech weeks into fall practice to determine their starting quarterback doesn’t help but then again, the top-ranked Alabama Crimson Tide still haven’t chosen their starting QB for the opening week.
What will help the offensive transition more than anything else is the fact that Virginia Tech has talented weapons in Isaiah Ford, Bucky Hodges, Travon McMillian, Cam Phillips, and Sam Rogers back in addition to returning four offensive line starters. Given this experience, the Hokies’ offense should improve this year but don’t expect Virginia Tech to just all of a sudden become an offensive juggernaut as Fuente was able to do by his final couple seasons at Memphis.
Sean Labar (@SeanLabar)
This is a tough one, and I think it really boils down to how success is measured. Will the offense be more efficient than last year? I think so. Will it replicate the staggering numbers from Memphis? No. We haven’t gotten to see much of the offense, but I assume it will be a shell of Fuente’s time at Memphis.
I think he will use the quarterback more creatively, considering all three options are mobile. Bucky Hodges is a weapon that Fuente has never had. Travon McMillan is a back capable of putting together another incredible year. I think the offense will score points, but it will struggle at times. It’s year one after all.
Dan Caro (@TreadmillHorse)
I expect it to be like to last year for the first six games or so, then show improvement. At the end of the year, I think the Hokies’ total offense ranking will be somewhere around the 60s or 70s. I expect Fuente will have an excellent scheme but you’ll see some struggles as a result of having an inexperienced quarterback. I do think the running game will be better though. I would describe it as modest improvement on offense over last season. But don’t expect the Hokies to be top 20 in total offense this year. It likely won’t happen even with a lot of talent at the skills positions.
Mike McDaniel (@MikeMcDanielACC)
This has everything to do with the quarterback position and the play of the offensive line. Run blocking improved in the second half of the season last year, leading to a more balanced Virginia Tech offense down the stretch with Travon McMillian exploding onto the scene. If the offense run blocks as well from the outset of the season as they did throughout the second half of 2015, the run game should be in good shape.
The passing game needs to better this season, and it all starts with the blocking up front. If the line can hold their blocks long enough, it will all come down to the decision making of whoever the quarterback ends up being. The offense should improve through the new scheme under Coach Fuente alone, but the ultimate long-term, consistent success this season will depend on who takes the reigns at quarterback, and how well they perform in unison with a now more experienced offensive line.