Posted: 10:52 am Tuesday, July 29th, 2014

Tech opponent preview: Virginia Tech 

By Ken Sugiura

We resume our Georgia Tech opponent preview (Sorry for the interruption. ACC Kickoff and the three dismissals got me a little sidetracked.). Today’s preview of Virginia Tech comes courtesy of Norm Wood, ACC writer at the Daily Press in Newport News, Va. You can read his stuff here and follow him on Twitter here. The Yellow Jackets will play the Hokies Sept. 20 at Lane Stadium in the first Saturday meeting between the two teams since 2009 (which, coincidentally, was the last time the Jackets beat the Hokies). Thanks to Norm and his always insightful contributions.

Q: With the departure of Logan Thomas, who’s the next Virginia Tech quarterback to haunt the Yellow Jackets?

A: At this relatively late date, there’s still no clear answer, but incoming, immediately-eligible transfer Michael Brewer has a legit shot. Brewer, who will be a redshirt junior after graduating from Texas Tech, was in line to make a run at Texas Tech’s starting quarterback role last year before an offseason back injury forced him to sit out until October. At 6-foot-0 and 202 pounds, Brewer represents a far more diminutive physical presence in the pocket than the 6-6, 250-pound Thomas, but Brewer has a reputation for having a strong arm.

He’ll have to compete with senior Mark Leal and sophomore Brenden Motley, neither of whom ran away with the job in the spring, but are still very much in the running to be the Hokies’ first quarterback on the field in the season-opener against William & Mary. Incoming freshmen Andrew Ford, who enrolled in January and participated in spring practices, and Chris Durkin need more time. With a primetime road game at Ohio State on tap in the second week, Coach Frank Beamer and Co. will need to get this position squared away as soon as possible. Of course, Georgia Tech comes to Lane Stadium before the end of September (Sept. 20), too.

Q: Is it fair to say that the Hokies’ recruiting class was, at the least, the best on paper in a long time? What gives?

Yep, that’s fair, but that’s not to say Virginia Tech didn’t miss out on some key targets. Defensive tackle Ricky Walker from Hampton, Va. and linebacker Melvin Keihn from Baltimore, Md. were prized signees, but Tech didn’t get everything it wanted in terms of defensive line and linebacker recruits.

Missing on some recruits has influenced the way Virginia Tech has attacked its 2015 recruiting class. Eight of Virginia Tech’s first nine commitments for the ’15 class have come from defensive players. Virginia Tech did a great job fortifying many of its skill positions – quarterback, running back and wide receivers – and the offensive line (success of offensive line recruiting was due to the efforts of former offensive line coach Jeff Grimes, who left to take the same job at Louisiana State after just one season in Blacksburg).

Offensive coordinator Scot Loeffler, associate head coach and running backs coach Shane Beamer and defensive backs coach Torrian Gray have all proven themselves to be dynamic recruiters, along with tight ends coach and recruiting coordinator Bryan Stinespring, a long-time established recruiting presence in the Hampton Roads area of Virginia.

Q: Do you have any thoughts on this being the first ACC game for both teams?

A: It seems like it’s shaping up to be an interesting test for Virginia Tech’s front seven, which will feature at least five new starters. As usual, staying disciplined and recognizing assignments while playing against Georgia Tech coach Paul Johnson’s option will be essential, and that’s always a concern with a group of defensive linemen and linebackers that haven’t faced much of the offense as a unit.

Virginia Tech has won four in a row, and six of the last seven meetings, against Georgia Tech. Yet, despite the lopsided balance in the win-loss columns, five of the last seven games have been determined by seven points or less. There’s a pretty strong chance this season’s matchup will be another hotly contested affair, but with the Coastal Division being wide open heading into the season, a victory could end up being enormous for either team.

Q: What are the Hokies’ two strongest and weakest position groups?

There’s no doubt Virginia Tech’s secondary, featuring cornerback Kendall Fuller (six interceptions, 17 passes defended last season as a freshman) and safety Kyshoen Jarrett (71 tackles last season), is the best group on the team. It rivals Florida State for the best secondary in the ACC, and one of the best in the nation.

On the flip side, while there are questions about which of the running backs are best equipped to carry the load for a Virginia Tech ground game that struggled mightily last season, there’s plenty of depth at the position (healthy Trey Edmunds, J.C. Coleman, Jerome Wright, Joel Caleb, Chris Mangus and incoming freshmen Marshawn Williams, Shai McKenzie and D.J. Reid). Instead, the weakest unit is probably the offensive line, which never seemed to get settled in the spring and saw a lot of shuffling of position. Getting a better push up front than it did last season will be essential to reviving Virginia Tech’s running game.

Q: What’s your guess on when Frank Beamer will retire, and will Bud Foster ever be a head coach?

A: Beamer’s retirement date is still an issue shrouded in mystery. He’ll be 68 years old in October, and he’s under contract through the 2016 season. He’s always said he’ll continue coaching as long as his health is good and the team shows promise, but after two straight seasons where the program has slipped just a bit, it’s hard to get a read on whether his opinion of his future has changed.

Might the completion of Virginia Tech’s long-awaited indoor practice facility (due to be ready Aug. 2015) rejuvenate Beamer? Could a trip to play at Notre Dame in a few seasons excite him? Those things certainly can’t hurt. As for Foster, who will be 55 on July 28, he seems to be more and more content with the idea that his best opportunity to land what he wants (a head coaching job at a top-notch or on-the-rise power conference program) has probably come and gone.

There’s zero indication that there’s a behind-the-scenes coach-in-waiting situation going on at Virginia Tech. Of course, earning over $550,000-a-year and the promise of an $800,000 annuity that matures Jan. 1, 2015 if he’s still the defensive coordinator at Virginia Tech, makes the prospects of spending the foreseeable future as an assistant coach in Blacksburg pretty decent for Foster.

Tech opponent previews

Wofford, Aug. 30

Tulane, Sept. 6

Georgia Southern, Sept. 13

Next up: Miami

44 comments
GTQBdefender
GTQBdefender

In response to a question, my Clemson fan cousin claimed, with a similar argument to GTBob's, that losing the arch rival game to Spurrier every year did not matter so much as long as the rest of the season was very good. I do not think that will prove to be true if it continues. DRad has made the same mistake he made here. Dabo for 8 years at 3 million dollars a year. Clemson can afford to pay for top assistants to make up for Dabo's strategic shortcomings but that does not mean his assistants will not leave. Gamecocks fans have been under the Tiger paw for 50 or 60 years. They did a replay with captions changed by them to a film about Hitler in German. They have Hitler in numerous tirades supposedly voicing the excuses Clemson fans provide for their losses. It's hysterical, well not for Tiger fans. Another loss or two to Steve and his gloating ego will have them wanting Dabo gone. Except with that contract, they'll be stuck for a long, long time. That is also why I turned down my cousin's efforts to recruit me to join him. Not following DRad anywhere. However the Braves have given me a fun summer and that is where my money will be going.

FreddieBlassie
FreddieBlassie

Last year's game between GT and VT was a game that neither team seemed to want to win. Maddening!

JeffersonDavisHogg
JeffersonDavisHogg

I see no reason you guys can't win the Coastal. No team seems to stand out and Va. tech is very winnable thus setting the tone for the rest of your season. Ya'll just need to avoid that 1 or 2 games in which you lay an egg out of nowhere much the way my Dawgs seem to do as well. With a decent defense both teams in state should do. Wry well making the Nov matchup interesting. Go Dawgs

OldJacketFan
OldJacketFan

Couple to things to look at regarding the match up with VT. First, they lose 6 starters on D including Tech's biggest thorn in the side, James Gayle. Of those 6, 5 were either LB or DL so their from 7 is not going to be as stout as last year's version. Second, the loss of Logan Thomas cannot be overstated. Despite what his did or didn't do against other teams for some reason he had Tech's number. If this were a home game I'd feel a lot better but it would be fun to go into Blacksburg and get a new streak started favoring the Jackets!

Birmingham__Jacket
Birmingham__Jacket

Common denominator for this match-up and previous failures IMO is line of scrimmage.  We have traditionally really struggled in the trenches on both sides of the ball against VT, Miami and UGA.  And we got manhandled by BYU the past 2 years.  Thank goodness they are off the schedule for a while.

Gr8_2B_aFuzzyB
Gr8_2B_aFuzzyB

Here's a softball for all the Google wizards out there. Have we beaten VT more than the one time in 2009? Since they've been in the conference, that's the only one I recall. There was the lightning storm game I think during the GOL days, didn't that get called off?

GTBob
GTBob

Probably our most important game this season. I think I will be cautiously optimistic about it.

Jmonty
Jmonty

Always interesting to read what other writers think.  Thanks Ken.

GeorgeStein
GeorgeStein

@Radar123 Rule number one of being a good leader is hiring good people.   Dabo is stupid like a fox.

GTBob
GTBob

@Radar123 You are falling into the trap that UGA fans want you to fall into. The more importance you place on the UGA game the worse off GT is. They are basically beating us twice every year. In the football game and in the mental department. If we choose to define ourselves based on one late season non conference game that we are rarely ever going to win then we are always going to be a miserable fan base whining all the time and firing coaches every few years. The absolute worst thing our fan base can do is continue to place unwarranted importance on that game. 

Also, you can't really compare Clemson and GT's situations. Before SC's current run, Clemson had won 6 of 7. In the last 30 years Clemson has beaten SC 18 times compared to 8 times for GT against UGA. Clemson has just as much fan support, money, and recruiting ability as SC if not more so. Everyone pretty much knows that Clemson will bounce back against them. Its just a matter of when. No one knows if GT will ever actually be competitive against UGA again.

BigCrimson75
BigCrimson75

@Birmingham__Jacket  Bham -- It doesn't say much for GT & CPJ that Logan Thomas got y'all every year as a starter. That guy might actually have been a worse QB than the QBs Fla has trotted out the last 3 seasons! :(

We dominated Thomas -- Made him look silly @ the Dome.

GTQBdefender
GTQBdefender

@GTBob

Better plan to win by more than three because the refs there will be good for at least 7 points for them. Chan's best team was on the verge of blowing them out and giving them some of their own medicine but the refs would not allow it. Worse ball marked game ever, just for starters. Plus half yard for them, minus half yard for us on numerous occasions, usually third down of course. I think the final was GT 39 VT 28 but it should have been worse for them.

Birmingham__Jacket
Birmingham__Jacket

@GTBob

I don't think we will get blown out.  But I wouldn't say I'm optimistic about it.  VT will be a Vegas favorite by 7-7.5.

GTQBdefender
GTQBdefender

@GTBob @Radar123 

Every ones knows Dabo will some day defeat Spurrier? As George Stein might say "that's a fact not in evidence yet". I doubt he will. Spurrier is the best coach in college football, a little better than Saban. No one else could win at South Carolina and totally change their mindset. They expect to beat Clemson. That's worth a lot on game day.

GTBob
GTBob

@BigCrimson75 He was terrible. We should have handled him better. He did get drafted higher than AJ McCarron though.

Gr8_2B_aFuzzyB
Gr8_2B_aFuzzyB

I could say gotcha Bob since I worded it as a trick question, unintentionally I might add! We only beat them once in the year 2009. George is right, we beat them in 2006 also, the Chan Gailey days. I guess that was the Wake Forest ACCCG year. But did you know that we beat them once prior also. I'm not sure what year but the series record is 3-8. See, I can Google too.

GTBob
GTBob

@BigCrimson75 Yes. The VT game is basically setting the stage for the season and we are due for a win against them. It also will have huge coastal implications like it does every year. We don't want to start out in a hole. If we lose that game, the fans will already be restless. The UGA game will basically be the meaningless late season exhibition game that it is every year.

GTBob
GTBob

@BigCrimson75 If we can handle the safeties shooting the gaps and cut out the mental mistakes we will be fine.

GTBob
GTBob

@Birmingham__Jacket We were a 7 point favorite last year. It didn't really matter, did it? Personally I don't think VT is going to be all that great this year. I also doubt they will be a 7 point favorite after they play Ohio St and East Carolina.

GTBob
GTBob

@Radar123 Clemson out recruits SC nearly every year. They aren't just going to lose to them until the end of time. Spurrier is a great coach but he isn't good enough to maintain this run all that much longer.

GTQBdefender
GTQBdefender

@GTBob @Radar123 

Tech was competitive last year. If Mr. Goes For It on 4th Down (indian name) does at the 5, Tech blows them out. See a different game but then none of u can.

GeorgeStein
GeorgeStein

@GTBob He only had one good game against us.  His junior and senior seasons they won because we blew a lead with :40 to play and because we couldn't do jack on offense in 2013 (though we did score the same number of offensive points against VT as Bama did).

Birmingham__Jacket
Birmingham__Jacket

@GTBob @BigCrimson75

I think losing that game has cost us more than pride over the years.  Georgia fans have delighted in helping send us to some really crappy bowl games.

BigCrimson75
BigCrimson75

@GTBob @BigCrimson75  VT has a top 5 secondary in the Country. Fortunately for GT, that doesn't help them much against y'all.

My worry is the 3 creampuffs y'all are playing to prep you for the game.

GTBob
GTBob

@Radar123 Last years game was competitive, but we have lost 12 of 13. We have also lost 19 of the last 23 games. Were some of these games close? Yes. There is a reason we are losing over 75% of these games though and have been for the last 50 years. It isn't going to magically turn around. In the overall scheme of things, we aren't even moderately competitive with them.

BigCrimson75
BigCrimson75

@GeorgeStein @GTBob  Counselor -- You had em beat in Blacksburg 2 yrs ago......then Tevin made probably the worst decision of his career.

GTQBdefender
GTQBdefender

@Flak @Gr8_2B_aFuzzyB

That game and the tie with UNC kept GT from a better bowl where a win would have reaped #1 in both polls.

Why did some archaic defense VT used in 1990 stop Tech's offense all day? Very frustrating to watch.

GTBob
GTBob

@Birmingham__Jacket I can't remember any time that losing to UGA cost us a good bowl. Maybe im mistaken though. We all know there is little chance we are going to beat UGA and by the time we play them, the ACC is already decided. There is no importance to that game at all other than a few people being happy or getting their feelings hurt.

GTBob
GTBob

@BigCrimson75 True. That is a bit worrisome. With the team we have now though, I would still rather have three games to get the team flowing. 

GeorgeStein
GeorgeStein

@BigCrimson75 True, bit it never should have never come to that.   Tevin also took them the length of the field in the final minutes of the 4th quarter and converted the 4th and 7 to Bostic that allowed them to take the lead.  Now, if you'll excuse me, I'm going to go tie a plastic bag around my head.

GTQBdefender
GTQBdefender

@GTBob @Birmingham__Jacket

GTBob as the new school of Tech fan are one of the reasons I've become a free agent fan. I have a Braves 20 game Tuesday/Friday package but spotted and purchased four seats for Monday's game in the lower level for $12 each. Sports south showed me congratulating the scrappy 11 year old I took, who out hustled adults to a foul ball in the third inning. Not knowing that, I got the cameraman to put him holding the ball, his sister and me on about the 6th inning, also on live tv. Evidently I am more persuasive in person.

GTQBdefender
GTQBdefender

@GeorgeStein @BigCrimson75

Funny how those who have knocked Tevin's play in OTs vs VT and Miami in the 2012 season forget how he and the offense had won both games in regulation before Al(zheimer) Groh blew the leads. Johnson also failed to go for it on 4th with 2 minutes left, Miami out of timeouts, Tech with a 7 point lead and one yard wins the game. Failure to make it would have just resulted in the same tie game that happened anyway. How does Johnson go for it, down 7 on his 36 in the 4th qt. vs VT the next year (and fails) but not there? "That's illogical, captain", Spock would have remarked if a Tech fan.