2019 Virginia Tech Football Season Preview
A losing season for Virginia Tech? That doesn’t happen often–but will it change in 2019 amid a slew of losses on the roster?
2018 Record: 6-7 overall, 4-4 in ACC
Head Coach: Justin Fuente, 4th season, 25-15
The offense was solid but inconsistent a season ago, but the losses of quarterback Josh Jackson and receiver Sean Savoy who transferred to Maryland hurt–add in tight end Eric Kumah is gone to Old Dominion. That leaves five starters returning from an offense that averaged 428 yards and 30 points per game in 2018.
Ryan Willis, a transfer from Kansas will be the new starting signal caller–he completed 59 percent of his passes for 2,716 yards and 24 scores with nine interceptions. Under Justin Fuente, there is always promise from this position.
Last year’s leading rusher Steven Peoples will need to be replaced and it will likely be a committee approach with Jalen Holston and Deshawn McClease battling for the “starting” job. They’ll work behind a line that gets back two starters, but should have a strong starting five around sophomore Christian Darrisaw at left tackle.
The receiver group should help Willis pick up the offense and will be the offenses strength. Damon Hazelton is a legitimate WR1 and Tre Turner can stretch the field averaging more than 20 yards per catch. The loss of Kumah hurts the overall depth of the tight end position but with Dalton Keene and James Mitchell the team should be okay.
Last year was the exact opposite of a Virginia Tech defense–not that it wasn’t the expected outcome. As a whole, the Hokies allowed over 400 points for the first time since the team went 0-10 in 1950. Nine of last year’s underclassmen are a year older and ready to make a major impact and upgrade this year.
Running the 4-2-5 scheme requires your defensive lineman to get after the quarterback and your secondary to be aggressive in all phases of the game.
Tech will have a lot more experience with all of their young guys returning and even better news–the five in the secondary are all returning led by the ‘old man’ senior Reggie Floyd who accumulated 88 tackles last year. The two other safeties are Khalil Ladler who was third with 66 tackles, and junior Divine Deablo who is powerful and ready to hit.
The two linebackers also return– Dax Hollifield started on the outside as a freshman making 62 tackles, and now he’s expected to make a bigger impact as a sophomore. In the middle again its Rayshard Ashby, the leading tackler with 105 stops last season with the upside to grow into an all-conference player now that he is more experienced.
The defensive line needs to replace Ricky Walker, but have the talent are depth to withstand that loss.
Overall, 2019 will look like a Virginia Tech defense–unlike last season.
This team should not be a sub-.500 team again–if they are, you better believe the boosters will be making Justin Fuente’s seat very warm (if it isn’t already).
The defense will be a lot better–heck, it has to be. They were so young and experienced a season ago and return virtually everyone.
The offense will look different with so many transfers coming and going and it will all depend on how Ryan Willis quarterbacks this offense. He has the wideouts to really succeed–but will he?