After a long offseason, the 2019 college football season has arrived with Virginia Tech looking to turn things around after the first losing season in more than two decades. Once again, the Hokies are a young team, but a much more experienced one returning 15+ starters on their roster this season.
With that said, here’s a look at the season predictions from the TLP staff.
2019 has the potential to be a redemption year of sorts for Virginia Tech as the Hokies look to prove that last year was a fluke rather than a sign of a program downturn. After a chaotic offseason in 2018, the 2019 offseason has been mostly quiet since the #ItStartsNow team meeting in January that seems to have fixed some of the issues within the program and improved communication.
That calm around the program should help with focus but more importantly, this year’s team returns a lot more experience than last year’s. That should help the Hokies get back to the 9+ win seasons that Justin Fuente’s program had in each of his first two seasons at the helm.
One of the different things about this team is the fact that the best part is a passing attack that returns boatloads of talent at WR and TE including Tre Turner and Damon Hazelton along with a returning starting QB in Ryan Willis who isn’t afraid to sling it. Expect to see some passing and receiving records be broken this fall even if the running game may not provide the most help.
Defensively, last year was a shocking disappointment after the season-opening dominance against Florida State but this defense should be much better even with only one senior starter. Last year’s experience should help a lot while the Hokies also have playmakers at linebacker and safety with Dax Hollifieild, Rayshard Ashby, Divine Deablo, and Reggie Floyd all having All-ACC potential. Cornerback remains a concern for the Hokies while the defensive line does look like a place of improvement this fall.
The schedule sets up odd as though it’s arguably the weakest in the Power 5 overall, the three toughest games are all on the road in Notre Dame, Miami, and Virginia. Don’t be surprised to see the Hokies take at least 1 of those while a slip up against a team VT is favored against is more than possible especially with Wake Forest being a potential letdown game in Lane Stadium the week after travelling to Notre Dame.
At this point, 9-3 seems like the safe point which unfortunately won’t be enough with Miami having an advantage in the Coastal hosting both VT and UVA, which could prove to make the difference in the end. However, the Hokies are headed on the right track with a team that will be preseason top 15-20 next year and has the potential to return up to 20 starters.
Record Prediction: 9-3, No ACC Coastal Title
The Hokies have a lot to prove this season after putting up the worst record in 25 years by a Virginia Tech team in 2018. With that said, the schedule sets up very favorably for them.
Virginia Tech has two tough road games at Miami and Notre Dame, but the home schedule is unusually soft. Combine that with a roster full of players who gained starting experience last year, and you could have a recipe for success.
Tech has a couple of stud linebackers returning in Dax Hollifield and Rayshard Ashby. On the other side of the ball, a receiving corps of Damon Hazelton, Tre Turner, and Hezekiah Grimsley could make some serious noise.
Nevertheless, the Hokies are still relatively young. For that reason, I expect them to lose a game that they are favored in and expected to win. Overall, my record prediction for Virginia Tech is 9-3.
It is unlikely that a 9-3 record will be enough to win the ACC Coastal, because I predict all 3 losses will come in conference. Miami will play Clemson in the ACC Championship, and the Tigers will once again prevail as ACC Champs.
Prediction: 9-3, No ACC Coastal Title
I think the Hokies will have a much more successful season, winning ten games. This may come as a shock after Tech only winning 6 last season, but the culture has changed and the leaders stepped up in the offseason and motivated the team.
There will be tough environments for sure, as Tech plays the better teams in the ACC on the road with toughest tests will come at Notre Dame, at Miami and at Virginia.
Keep your eyes peeled for Boston College and Pittsburgh, though. I think those two teams will put up a fight and maybe surprise the Hokies. I see the Hokies going 10-2 though. I think their offense has talent and their defense is on the rise. The depth on the defense in the secondary is great and the players want to go out on top for Bud Foster and the Lunch Pail.
I think Tech wins the ACC Coastal and puts up a fight with Clemson in the ACC Championship game. These guys are hungry, ready to play and are ready to make a statement after the disappointment from last season.
Record Prediction: 10-2, ACC Coastal Champs
For the Virginia Tech Hokies this season, I see a lot of question marks that surround this program and how they will fare when ACC action gets underway in the later weeks of the season.
I definitely think the Hokies have a good opportunity to compete for the ACC Coastal this season with the Miami Hurricanes and the Virginia Cavaliers. For the Hokies, I believe the matchups between those two teams, one must be a win to have a significant chance of playing in Charlotte in December for the ACC Championship.
Right now, I put them at an outside shot of clinching the ACC Coastal crown this season, but a couple of results could definitely put a spin on the end of season results.
When it comes to the ACC as a whole, it seems like it is Clemson’s title to lose this year and all thirteen teams are playing catch up to Dabo Swinney's Tigers. I do not expect the Hokies to win the ACC Championship this season, but I definitely see a program that is ready to take a step in the right direction after a 6-7 record in 2018.
Record Prediction: 8-4, No ACC Coastal Title
The Hokies enter the year attempting to redeem themselves from a brutal 2018 season both on the field and off. From poor play to poor attitudes, dismissals to transfers, it was hard to envision 2018 ending much differently than it ultimately did.
2019 feels like a bounce back year for Tech. For one, the roster was so young a year ago, and a good bit of talent played a year before they probably should have. While plenty of guys took their lumps last year, the rough season and learning opportunities for all involved should pay dividends this year. Experience helps much more than many will give it credit for, and the talent on the roster combined with the tough experiences from last year should lead to a more productive season.
The schedule is atrocious. Let’s call it what it is. The Hokies have two FCS schools on the schedule and have a rematch with ODU to account for in Week Two. While two of their most crucial conference games, plus a game with their toughest overall opponent in Notre Dame are all on the road, the Hokies have an opportunity to get back into the mix in the Coastal Division in 2019 and make a run at getting back to Charlotte for the ACC Championship.
I could see 8-4, as Tech always seems to find a way to lose a conference game that they shouldn’t. Maybe it’s Boston College, maybe it’s Pitt, Duke, or even Wake. However, I’m going to go against the grain and say the Hokies go 9-3, with a 6-2 record in ACC play. Depending on how the round robin shakes out between VT, Miami, and UVA, the Hokies could end up with enough tie breakers to get themselves back into the ACC Championship. I’m going to stop short of that though and say the Hokies go 9-3, 6-2 in the ACC, but a head-to-head loss at Miami will keep them out of the conference championship.
Record Prediction: 9-3, No ACC Coastal Title