In Justin Fuente’s two years at Virginia Tech, the Hokies have been one of the best teams in the ACC. But after reaching the ACC title game in Fuente’s first season, the Hokies fell a little short in the ACC Coastal division last year. Virginia Tech suffered losses to Clemson, Miami, and Georgia Tech during the regular season before falling to Oklahoma State in the Camping World Bowl to finish the year 9-4.
However, the Hokies are ready to reload in 2018. They will once again be among the favorites in the ACC Coastal and will be eager for a rematch with Clemson in the ACC Championship Game. If things break well for the Hokies, a spot in the College Football Playoff may not be entirely out of the question either.
The oddsmakers don’t appear to be huge fans of the Hokies, who are listed at +10,000 to win a national championship. Teams with those kinds of odds don’t typically turn into legitimate contenders. Of course, a small wager would pay off handsomely if the Hokies turn into that Cinderella team. Meanwhile, Virginia Tech’s projected win total is set at 8.5, which one would think the Hokies could top while playing in the ACC Coastal division.
Virginia Tech’s biggest reason for optimism in 2018 is quarterback Josh Jackson. As a redshirt freshman last year, Jackson threw for nearly 3,000 yards. He added 20 touchdown passes to just nine interceptions. He was also a threat with his legs, rushing for over 300 yards and six touchdowns. Jackson struggled down the stretch, but with a full season of experience under his belt, he should be more consistent in 2018.
The question for the Hokies is how they’ll get Jackson the help he needs to have a breakout season. Virginia Tech returns three starters along the offensive line, which should be enough to help a group of unheralded running backs provide steady production. But the bigger question is at receiver. Jackson’s go-to guy Cam Phillips has exhausted his eligibility, leaving a big void. There are plenty of capable options, but the Hokies may be missing a true star at wide receiver.
Defensively, the Hokies were outstanding last season but now have some holes to fill. The good news is that there is plenty of experience along the defensive line, which should help hide an unproven secondary until they can get settled into the season. The Virginia Tech defense may not be the top-5 defense it was a year ago, but there’s enough talent on the roster to keep them competitive at the top of the Coastal division.
|Sep 3||@ Florida State Seminoles||8:00 PM|
|Sep 8||William & Mary Tribe||2:00 PM|
|Sep 15||East Carolina Pirates||12:20 PM|
|Sep 22||@ Old Dominion Monarchs||3:30 PM|
|Sep 29||@ Duke Blue Devils||12:00 PM|
|Oct 6||Notre Dame Fighting Irish||12:00 PM|
|Oct 13||@ North Carolina Tar Heels||12:00 PM|
|Oct 25||Georgia Tech Yellow Jackets||7:30 PM|
|Nov 3||Boston College Eagles||12:00 PM|
|Nov 10||@ Pittsburgh Panthers||12:00 PM|
|Nov 17||Miami-Florida Hurricanes||12:00 PM|
|Nov 23||Virginia Cavaliers||12:00 PM|
Virginia Tech’s schedule holds plenty of challenges, starting with a trip to Florida State the first week of the season. Fortunately for the Hokies, that may be the only road game that truly scares them. The rest of Virginia Tech’s toughest games will come at home. That includes showdowns against Notre Dame, Boston College, and Miami.
Aside from the four opponents mentioned, the Hokies have games in which they should be the obvious favorites. If Virginia Tech can hold serve in those games and split the remaining four, the Hokies will have a 10-win season. If things break well and Jackson has a standout season, 11 or 12 wins could be possible.
With a young quarterback who should only get better and a manageable schedule, the Hokies should be considered favorites to win the ACC Coastal. Whether they can take out Clemson in the ACC title game and earn a spot into the College Football Playoff is another matter. But it’s not hard to envision an exciting season ahead in Blacksburg.