Today we look at No. 16 – Virginia Tech.
Top 25 to date
Nuts and bolts
Location: Blacksburg, Virginia
Coach: Justin Fuente (19-8, two seasons at Tech; 45-31 overall at Memphis and Virginia Tech)
2017: 9-4, 5-3 ACC (lost to Oklahoma State 30-21 in Camping World Bowl)
Last league title: 2010
Three things to know
1. Fuente watch. Justin Fuente is one of the young, promising coaches in the sport, and was groomed by TCU’s Gary Patterson. He’s had a solid first two seasons with the Hokies and is looking to take the next step in Year 3.
But Fuente has holes to fill, particularly on defense with the loss of a pair of first-round picks – linebacker Tremaine Edmunds and his brother, safety Terrell.
2. Mr. Jackson. Quarterback Josh Jackson started all 13 games as a redshirt freshman last season and played well. Another year in Fuente’s system should be beneficial and Jackson has his leading receiver, Cam Phillips, back from last season.
The biggest issue for Jackson and the Hokies offense is stabilizing the offensive line unit that was shaky last season.
3. Foster magic? As stated, the Hokies defense lost plenty of talent to the NFL. So it won’t be easy for Bud Foster, who returns for his 32nd season at Virginia Tech.
But Foster has seen everything in his career and will surely figure out how to put together a respectable defense. It helps to have a standout defensive tackle such as Ricky Walker and a returning starter at end in Trevon Hill.
Linebacker is the No. 1 issue, as Foster has no experienced players to take over for Tremaine Edmunds, one of the best linebackers in the country a season ago.
Games to watch
Sept. 3 at Florida State. You can’t go wrong with an ACC primetime game as part of college football’s first weekend.
Oct. 6 vs. Notre Dame. This will be the first time the Fighting Irish visits Blacksburg.
Nov. 17 vs. Miami. The ACC’s Coastal division should be settled this weekend.