It’s Monday, which means you’re back at work. It also means that I’m taking time to answer your questions from the weekend, which I truly enjoy doing. You guys submitted an abundance of questions this week (Thank you!) and those that weren’t answered will probably be answered next week. For now, let’s get cracking.
With the loss of Mook, how do you feel an inexperienced DB group will handle FSU and the first part of the season?
— Matthew Morrison (@morrisontmatt) July 15, 2018
Of course, we’re starting this week’s Monday Mail with a Mook Reynolds question. In case you forgot, Virginia Tech announced last week that Reynolds had been dismissed from the team, effective immediately.
Reynolds’ departure leaves Virginia Tech greener than they already were in the defensive backfield. Reggie Floyd is the only projected starter with any significant playing time under his belt.
This amount of youth leaves the entire group vulnerable. All it takes is for one cog in the system to malfunction and the whole thing breaks down. Inexperience breeds mistakes.
Florida State’s passing offense wasn’t good in 2017, finishing 89th in the country at 196.2 passing yards per game. The Seminoles had just 38 passing plays of 20 yards or more, good enough for a tie for 69th in the country.
As we know, Florida State’s offense will look wildly different in 2018. Deandre Francois should be healthy and ready to go and sophomore James Blackman is a year older and wiser. Whoever starts at quarterback for Florida State should give Willie Taggart a more than competent option.
Taggart’s 2017 offense at Oregon wasn’t explosive either. The Ducks were tied with the Seminoles for 69th in passing plays of 20 yards or more and 94th in passing yards per game. As much as he’s known for orchestrating explosive offenses, his offense was rather pedestrian last season.
But given Virginia Tech’s lack of experience in the secondary, I’d be surprised if Florida State struggles to create a successful offense. Bud Foster has zero film of Taggart and this collection of offensive players and we don’t even know who will start at quarterback for the ‘Noles. Florida State will have some offensive success, but will they have enough to knock off the Hokies?
How are you feeling about the FSU game? And what does Tech need to do to get the upper hand?
— Zach hendrick (@Zach_Hendrick12) July 14, 2018
I don’t feel as confident about this game as a I did prior to the offseason. So many things have happened that I think there’s simply too much for Virginia Tech to overcome, particularly on the defensive side of the ball.
Tech’s only senior defensive back is off the roster. Their most experienced corner, Adonis Alexander, just got drafted by the Washington Redskins in the NFL’s Supplemental Draft. Tyrone Nix is still acclimating himself to his new role as safeties coach as he replaces Galen Scott. Virginia Tech is projected to start just two seniors on defense in 2018 — Ricky Walker and Vinny Mihota.
The offense did very little to instill confidence towards the end of last season, but Josh Jackson is healthy and the Hokies are far more experienced at receiver than they were last season. If Tech’s offense can score like they did vs. West Virginia last season, perhaps they can win this on the road. But there are too many worries on defense for me to bet on Virginia Tech to win this game.
With all the losses on D, have you changed your thoughts on this years W-L record for the Hokies?
— Mark Turner (@mytvt3) July 15, 2018
What’s your over under on wins this season
— Grant Atkinson (@hokie_g) July 15, 2018
I think it’s fair to lower the Hokies’ win projections for this season. As good as Bud Foster is, he lost a ton of talent and experience this offseason. It’s not fair to expect him to churn out elite-level defenses with little to work with.
It’d be different if the Hokies’ offense was a sure thing. Sure, Josh Jackson is more experienced, but his receivers are still inconsistent threats and it’s unknown if the running game will return to their late-2017 form. Virginia Tech returns three starters on the offensive line, but the losses of Wyatt Teller and Eric Gallo will be felt immensely.
Virginia Tech’s schedule isn’t remarkably difficult, but it isn’t smooth sailing either. Opening on the road vs. Florida State could set the tone for the season, positively or negatively. At Duke could prove to be a tough game, as it usually is. Notre Dame was one of the best teams in the country last season and North Carolina is out for revenge after getting stomped inside Lane Stadium last season.
Georgia Tech has beaten the Hokies three out of the last four seasons and the Hokies’ rendezvous with Miami looms in late November. There are plenty of tough games on the schedule. As of now, I’m thinking the Hokies will finish the regular season anywhere between 7-5 and 9-3. The over/under should probably be set at 8-4.
Related: Chatman to WR seems like Bud can’t claim top program athletes to defense like he used to. Thoughts on balance of power?
— Kris Olin (@kristopherolin) July 14, 2018
I’ve always thought people put too much stock into updated heights and weights, but there are some interesting nuggets of information that can be pulled out of the new numbers.
Devon Hunter is up to 222 pounds, which is a little larger than I think we all thought he’d get. He’s a physical freak as it is, and hopefully for the Hokies he hasn’t lost any of that athletic ability. As long as he can keep up with guys in the slot, he’ll be a great fit for the whip/nickelback position.
TyJuan Garbutt has filled out nicely as a defensive end. Garbutt enrolled at Tech around 215 pounds but has since grown to 244 pounds. There’s little doubt that he’s got enough size for the position and he’s got a real chance to play this season off the bench.
At 6-foot-4 and 258 pounds as a freshman, Jaevon Becton is likely moving inside later in his career. After a year with Ben Hilgart and Co., Becton could be pushing 270 pounds easy.
Cam Goode is 331 pounds, which is slightly over where he was on his official visit. Still, Goode moves well at this weight and if he sheds 10-15 pounds over the course of his career, he’s going to be a difference maker at defensive tackle. On the opposite end of the spectrum, Robert Porcher IV is still 260 pounds, which doesn’t bode well for his move inside to tackle.
Dax Hollifield is already 246 pounds, which is pretty incredible. I’m curious to see how he moves at that weight.
Offensive lineman Lecitus Smith enrolled around 275 pounds and is already up to 312 after his redshirt season. He’s uber-athletic for his size and I’m looking forward to him cracking the starting lineup in 2019.
Quincy Patterson came in at 231 pounds, which calms some of the speculation that he was getting too big. Hilgart will sculpt his body this season and if Patterson is able to sit for two seasons, he’ll be completely refined as an athlete.
Regarding your second question, Armani Chatman will actually start with the defensive backs. His number and position on the roster is inaccurate, so don’t expect him to be lining up in the slot anytime soon. That information comes from a pretty good authority, so trust me on this one. When the roster first comes out, there are always things that needs to be corrected.
I think the balance is power is just that — balanced. I don’t see any in-fighting or envy among the coaches. Justin Fuente doesn’t favor people over others and the “athlete” decisions are made according to what helps the team the most. Most of the athletes that have been signed in the last two classes have been assigned to defense and the best athlete of the group, Caleb Farley, moved back to defense this spring.