In only a few days, Virginia Tech will head to FedEx Field to kick off their season against West Virginia on primetime national television. The Hokies will look to build off a great 2016 season in which Virginia Tech won the ACC Coastal and 10 games for the first time since 2011.
With the season days away, our staff is making some bold predictions for the upcoming season for the Hokies and nationally.
Evan Hughes: Virginia Tech Will Go Undefeated Away From Lane Stadium
Virginia Tech finished 10-4 last season and won the ACC Coastal for the first time since 2011. Two of the four losses came away from Blacksburg as the Hokies fell to Tennessee at a neutral site in Bristol and on the road at Syracuse.
My bold prediction for this season is that Virginia Tech will go undefeated in games not played at Lane Stadium in 2017. Their neutral site game is at FedEx field this Sunday as the Hokies plays West Virginia. In my opinion, the game will come down to the Mountaineers offense against the Hokies defense. I like VT’s chances in that matchup and I believe Tech will take care of business offensively against a historically weak West Virginia defense.
Their five road games are East Carolina, Boston College, Miami, Georgia Tech, and Virginia. The Hokies' ACC Championship Game hopes rests in their games against the Hurricanes and Yellow Jackets. If they’re able to come out victorious in those two games, the Hokies will likely be heading to Charlotte to compete for an ACC championship for the second-straight year.
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Dwight Lester: Virginia Tech Will Win the ACC
I will say the Hokies will win the ACC in their second season under Justin Fuente. The Hokies have a legitimate chance to get to and win the championship game. Why is this such a bold statement, and what leads me to predict this season’s outcome?
First, the Hokies were way ahead of schedule last season under Fuente. However, several key players were lost to graduation or early entry into the NFL. The main offensive weapons in Jerod Evans and Isaiah Ford are gone, but Cam Phillips remains. Phillips is joined by some newcomers who will have immediate impacts. Josh Jackson will be the engineer of the high-paced Hokie offense while Jalen Holston and CJ Carroll will also contribute.
Why I think the ACC championship is a reasonable leap this season is the Hokie defense. Bud Foster should once again have a top ten defense. The Edmunds brothers return to lead an extremely talented defense which at times this year will carry the Hokies. The addition of top recruit Devon Hunter only makes the Hokies that much stouter on defense.
The Hokies will get a multitude of tough ACC opponents at home, with Clemson, Duke and North Carolina coming to Lane stadium. The toughest road opponent of the Hokies is a trip to south Florida to visit the Hurricanes.
Henry Skutt: Louisville Finishes Fourth in Atlantic Behind NC State
There are too many unknowns around the Louisville offense besides Lamar Jackson. The end of last season makes the first part of that season seem very far away, and there are still a bunch of questions to be answered. NC State has quietly built a solid team and I think they have the skill to compete in the Atlantic this year.
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Tim Thomas: Three True Freshmen Will Start By The End of 2017, None of Whom Will Be Devon Hunter
Dalton Keene earned the starting tight end job while a few other true freshmen made the two-deep including Devon Hunter. By the end of the season, Keene will be joined by Sean Savoy and Jalen Holston in the Hokies' starting offense while Devon Hunter will still be the Hokies' top backup safety.
Hunter has a very bright future and will have a role on this defense in sub-packages, but Reggie Floyd is quite talented in his own right and will not relinquish the job this season. It wouldn't be surprising to see Hunter start getting some work at free safety as well at practice to give him the versatility to play at either spot in case of injury. This could be a different story if it wasn't for Hunter suffering a concussion issue, but his early fall camp setback won't stop him from playing some on the Hokies' first-team defense.
Meanwhile, Sean Savoy and Jalen Holston both have had fantastic fall camps and if they would have been here this spring, the pair of true freshmen would likely be starting right now.
Holston has impressed coaches as a downhill runner that is physically mature for a true freshman. More than that, Holston has received lots of praise for his play on the field and his leadership off the field. Both of these things are great indications of Holston's bright future as well as how he has the skill set to be a great all-around back, unlike Steven Peoples and Deshawn McClease, and fits the Hokies' offense, unlike Travon McMillian.
Holston's role should only grow and by the end of the season, the Hokies' tailback of the future will be the starter.
Sean Savoy has also impressed coaches immensely and should have a fairly big role right off the bat. One inside source told me that Savoy is pretty close to being the Hokies' top slot guy and definitely has more upside as a bigger, faster, more athletic guy. The biggest reasons for Carroll's advantage appear to be the fact that he knows the offense better, has some nuances in his game, and has the full trust of Justin Fuente whereas Fuente is still learning to trust Savoy more.
CJ Carroll and Sean Savoy will both be significant contributors no matter who's the starter but by the end of the season, Savoy will be starting alongside fellow true freshmen Dalton Keene and Jalen Holston.
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