Wednesday, June 11, 2014
Ask Mark: Can the Hokies turn it around?
By Mark Schlabach
ESPN.com columnist Mark Schlabach is stopping by the ACC blog this week to answer some of your most pressing questions about the league as it enters the 2014 season. You can tweet your questions to Mark here.
Mark: Virginia Tech definitely needs to get things turned around, after losing 11 games combined in the past two seasons. I believe it would take a complete catastrophe for coach Frank Beamer to get run out of town, and I think the Hokies will head into the upcoming season as favorites in the Coastal Division. I think Beamer and his staff will once again put together a squad that is capable of winning 10 games, which has been the standard during his tenure.
The good news: Tech’s offense can’t be any worse than it was last season. In offensive coordinator Scot Loeffler’s first season in Blacksburg, the Hokies ranked 101st among FBS teams in total offense, averaging only 356 yards per game. Departed quarterback Logan Thomas again struggled with turnovers (eight combined in ugly losses to Duke and Boston College), and the Hokies didn’t run the ball effectively to take pressure off him.
The quarterback competition will be wide-open heading into preseason camp. Senior Mark Leal and sophomore Brenden Motley battled for the job during spring practice, but Texas Tech transfer Michael Brewer might be the best option. Brewer, who graduated from Texas Tech this spring, will be eligible to play for the Hokies immediately and has two seasons of eligibility remaining. He passed for 375 yards with four touchdowns for the Red Raiders in 2012, but missed most of last season with a back injury. Incoming freshman Chris Durkin might also be a factor this fall.
Whoever starts at quarterback will have plenty of weapons around him. Virginia Tech’s top three wideouts are coming back, along with five players who started on the offensive line. Tech’s coaches were raving this spring about freshman running back Marshawn Williams (224 pounds) and tight end Bucky Hodges, a converted quarterback.
Here’s why I really like Tech’s chances of rebounding in 2014: its schedule. The Hokies don’t play the top three teams from the Atlantic Division (FSU, Clemson and Louisville) and get Miami at home on a Thursday night, which is never an easy assignment.