Opening kickoff is a little more than two weeks away, and as we count down, let's analyze Boston College's opponents. Next up is the Virginia Tech Hokies, a team that is going to be looking for revenge after Andre Williams ran them ragged in 2013.
The Virginia Tech 2013 Season In Review
For a team that is usually a rock of consistency, 2013 had to be a disappointment for the Hokies. To start the season they got beat pretty easily by Alabama, and ended the season with a whooping at the hands of UCLA. In between those games we saw a VT take that struggled mightily on offense, and had one of the best defenses in the country. Logan Thomas led a Hokie offense that finished 100th in points scored, and had tough conference losses to Boston College, Duke and Maryland.
The Virginia Tech Offense
Scott Loeffler had a rough first season at the helm of the Virginia Tech offense. The Hokies finished 100th in the nation in scoring, 63th in passing yards, and 110th in rushing. Certainly not what many were hoping out of Logan Thomas's final year in Blacksburg. As we saw last year, the Hokies are not going to be the type of team that lines up five wide receivers and runs verticals, they are a methodical team that will run the ball frequently to set up the play action, all with the QB under center.
But there will be changes this year with the Hokies, starting behind the center with the quarterback. At the time of this writing, they have yet to name a starter as redshirt junior Michael Brewer from Texas Tech and sophmore Brandon Motley have been battling out for spot. Brewer is an interesting story, as he was the player that Chad Morris the offensive coordinator from Clemson (who he played for in HS) reached out to the Hokies in order to try and get him on the team. Interesting read if you get a chance. Brewer is coming from a different background than Loeffler's preferred pro style offense. He is used to the spread style, but according to reports he is learning the new system quickly. Brenden Motley is a mobile QB, with decent size, who for some reason also got a vote for ACC Pre-season Player of the Year during ACC Kickoff this July.
The Hokies are returning good depth at the running back position this year. Trey Edmonds, a sophomore will look to build upon a successful first year for the Hokies where he rushed for 675 yards and 10 touchdowns. He will have some solid contributors behind him with J.C. Coleman and cadre of redshirt and true freshmen that could be looking to work their way up the depth chart.
Virginia Tech will also have some good experienced depth at wide receiver this year as three of their top receivers return. Demetri Knowles, Josh Stanford and Willie Byrn all had over 600 yards last year. Having an experienced group with those kind of numbers will go a long way in helping to break in a new quarterback. The Hokies also have some depth behind these three with Isiah Ford, Jaylen Bradshaw and Cam Phillips looking to work their way up the depth chart.
In terms of the offensive line it looks like the tackles are pretty much set with a three man rotation of Mark Shuman, Laurence Gibson and Jonathan McLaughlin. Look for Caleb Ferris and Augie Conte at guard. The Hokies have good experience at the tackles, but the guards may be a little green this year.
The Virginia Tech Defense
Just like in years past, Bud Foster should be putting one of the best defenses in the country on the field. This year the strength of the Hokies defense is going to come from their two shutdown corners, Kendall Fuller (6 interceptions) and Brandon Fayscun (5 interceptions). Seriously though, Kendall Fuller, watch him, he is going to be a special player that could do big things. And with a tandem like that to lock down the sides, Bud Foster can draw up whatever he wants up front to put pressure on the quarterback, and with opposing offenses holding onto the ball just a little longer to avoid these CB's, sacks are going to come.
Up front Luther Maddy will be the top returning defensive lineman. Maddy, a senior finished last year with 55 tackles. He will most likely be matched up front with junior Corey Marshall and two ends that are high on potential. Dadi Nicholas had four sacks last year and could be a major threat if he can produce like he did as a backup, and Ken Ekanem who can be explosive but has a hard time staying healthy.
Linebackers may be a position of weakness on this defense, but this may be a deficit that will be masked by the Hokies lock down corners. Senior Chase Williams will get his chance to step up, along with Deon Clarke. There are some younger players that could be looking to fill that last spot, and they include Derek DiNardo and Josh Trimble.
This is going to be a superb defense, and one that is going to hold opposing offenses to low scores.
Where BC Should Be Successful
Last year BC stunned Virginia Tech when they took the Hokies running defense which was 3rd in the country, and just ran it down their throat. I would expect that BC is going to need to do this again. Stay physical with the Hokies up front, and please don't try to throw downfield a lot because those mistakes will lead to Hokie points. Use the run game effectively, try and beat up the Hokies front line and use the run to set up the pass on some play action plays which hopefully will keep Fuller and Fayschun honest.
Where BC May Struggle
If Virginia Tech can use their front seven to neutralize BC's run game the Eagles are in trouble. There are no wide receivers I can see right now on the BC roster that matchup with two of the best corners in the country. If BC is going to be forced to throw the ball they are going to be in big time trouble. Also I worry about how Virginia Tech's wide receivers match up against BC's secondary. They could make some big plays if the Eagles defenders make mistakes.
Wayyyyyyy Too Early Prediction
Virginia Tech 35 Boston College 17. On the road in front of a hostile environment, I just don't see the Eagles being able to break this Hokies defense two years in a row. Bud Foster is just too smart to let it happen, and they don't have Logan Thomas to crank out turnovers all game. I think this will be a game where BC's one dimensional offense will be very exposed and that the Hokies will force Murphy into turnovers and control the game.