The Hokies are making their final preparations for their 2017 season opener against West Virginia at FedEx Field. Virginia Tech will be looking to build on their strong first season under Justin Fuente that included the program's first ACC Coastal title and 10-win season since 2011.
The Hokies have one of America's best defenses led by Preseason All-American Tremaine Edmunds. Virginia Tech has a lot of new faces on offense after Jerod Evans, Isaiah Ford, and Bucky Hodges all left early for the NFL Draft.
After pushing for the starting quarterback job last year, Josh Jackson won the job early in camp this year and has been given the keys to the offense. Jackson will also have one of the ACC's best receivers in Cam Phillips to rely on early and often with a young receiving corps surrounding Phillips.
Can the Hokies improve on last year's 10-4 season? Our staff makes their predictions right here.
The Hokies are coming off a stellar opening season under Justin Fuente. The Hokies once again reached the 10 win season plateau. Even with all the departures at key positions, the Hokies should be a force to be dealt with in the ACC. I predict the Hokies will once again get to the 10-win threshold with nine of those wins coming in the regular season.
WVU-VT Opener Preview
The Hokies as bad as I hate to say it will more than likely open the regular season with a loss against a hated foe in WVU.
Why? It’s not because I believe WVU is the better team on the field, it’s because the Hokies have a huge habit of laying eggs in opener games at FedEx Field. The Hokies have lost their last three games at FedEx Field in heart-breaking games. Why would I have any reason to believe that this time will not be more of the same?
The Hokies' other two losses will come in conference against Clemson and Pittsburgh. Clemson will somehow find a way to win in the raucous environment of Lane Stadium. The Pitt game is another product of the Hokies having trouble with an opponent for many years. Pitt always plays the Hokies tough and after last year where Pat Narduzzi blamed everyone but his team for a loss, you can bet the Panthers will be out for blood.
The Hokies record will be good enough to get them to the ACC championship. However, they are going to run into a buzz saw that is Florida State. The Noles are a popular pick to make it to the College Football Playoff and I have no reason to think otherwise. Even with a loss in the ACC Championship the Hokies will go to a very good bowl where they will get their 10th win of the season.
The Hokies are beginning to start another 10-win tradition under Coach Fuente and this is the first sign of good things to come.
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West Virginia — This is the hardest game the Hokies will play until the end of September. I consider this game to be a toss-up, with the Hokies having the slight advantage based on how experienced the defense will be for Bud Foster.
Delaware, East Carolina, ODU — The rest of the out-of-conference slate should be an easy three wins for the Hokies. ODU is the biggest threat in my opinion, but I think they are still a couple of years away from a big FBS upset.
Clemson — This game will be the hardest game on the Hokies' schedule. If both teams come into the game at 4-0, it will be one of the biggest games at Lane Stadium in years. The atmosphere will be one of the largest factors in leading the Hokies to a big upset.
Coastal Teams — The hard stretch for the Hokies will be the three games at the start of November. Games at Miami, at Georgia Tech, and then Pittsburgh in Lane. I think the Hokies will drop one of those games.
Rest of the ACC schedule — The rest of the year for the Hokies should be straight forward. However, I’ve been a Virginia Tech fan for far too long and I know that we’ll drop at least one other game — Syracuse comes to mind (cough).
I think the Hokies will end the season at 10-2 and Coastal champs. Facing FSU in the ACC Championship game will be a very difficult task, and I think Fuente is a year or two away from beating the Seminoles. I still think the Hokies make a NY6 or high-tier bowl.
Despite the losses on offense from a season ago, the Hokies have young and talented weapons. Virginia Tech has a favorable schedule, with only three teams on their schedule currently ranked in the AP Top 25 (Clemson, West Virginia, and Miami). With the strong defense Bud Foster has and the creativity Brad Cornelsen can do on offense, I like the Hokies to finish 10-2 in the regular season.
One of the two losses will come against the Clemson Tigers. This is a winnable game for Virginia Tech, but I ultimately think the experience of the Tigers will be the difference as they play in a hostile, Lane Stadium atmosphere.
The second loss will come at home against Pittsburgh late in the season. Pat Narduzzi has a great transfer quarterback in Max Browne, who was the USC Trojans starter a year ago. They always seem to play the Hokies tight and wouldn’t be surprised to see Pittsburgh squeak out a win in Blacksburg.
I like Virginia Tech to win the ACC Coastal division and ultimately fall to Florida State in the championship game.
Coming off a great debut season, Justin Fuente and Virginia Tech will look to build on that success even with a new quarterback and lots of new guys at the offensive skill positions. The Hokies will look to rely on their elite defense to be a force in the ACC and remain nationally relevant. However, don't underestimate Josh Jackson as the redshirt freshman has been groomed for the past year and a half, and will be ready right off the bat to make a difference.
I see the Hokies going 4-0 in non-conference play to start the season including a big win over a West Virginia team that returns only two starters on defense. East Carolina has been a thorn in the Hokies' side in the past and though former Duke QB Thomas Sirk and ECU will push VT, the Hokies will avoid the upset. The Hokies also will comfortably take care of business against Delaware and Old Dominion.
Virginia Tech opens ACC play with a home game against the defending national champions, the Clemson Tigers. This game is a rematch of last year's ACC Championship and the Hokies will be looking to pull off the upset. My pick could change in a few weeks as we see the Hokies and Tigers tested early but at this point, I'm going with Clemson to win this game.
Outside of this game, I only see one other loss for the Hokies and that loss coming in South Florida. Miami will be looking for payback after last year's blowout loss to the Hokies, but they won't get it against a stingy Virginia Tech defense that includes an elite secondary that will be problematic for whoever Miami's QB is.
However, the Hokies always seem to lose a game no one expects with VT having that happen twice last year against Syracuse and Georgia Tech. This year, I think that will come either against Duke, one week before the Hokies travel to South Beach, or against Georgia Tech, the second of back-to-back road games to the Southeast.
Having only a week to prepare for the triple-option is always a challenge though the Hokies' defense has lots of experience against it, something that will be beneficial. Meanwhile, the Duke game appears to be a classic trap game as a home game the week before a huge road showdown that could be overlooked.
Duke has the Coastal's best QB in Daniel Jones combined with a well-coached David Cutcliffe team that never makes life easy. Duke and Georgia Tech are the top candidates to be the surprise team to upset the Hokies this fall though Justin Fuente will look to make sure his team learned their lessons from last year's surprise losses.
The Hokies will finish with a 10-2 record including 6-2 in ACC play, clinching the ACC Coastal title for the second-straight year with a win over Virginia. In the ACC Championship, Virginia Tech will face a Florida State team looking to secure a spot in the playoff. The Hokies will give the Seminoles a tough test in front of what could be a pro-VT crowd in Charlotte, but the Seminoles will beat the Hokies and advance to the College Football Playoff.
However, the Hokies will secure a higher-profile bowl bid, whether that be in the New Year's Six or one of the ACC's top bowl bids.
Tell us how well you think the Hokies will do this fall and stay with The Tech Lunch Pail throughout the season for in-depth Virginia Tech Football coverage.
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