Midseason Awards

We’re halfway through the season and we’ll take some time to examine who has stood out on the 2014 Hokies.

Offensive MVP

Finalists:

Michael Brewer – 10 TDs, 61.8% comp %, 234.8 ypg
Bucky Hodges – 234 yds, 4 TDs
Isaiah Ford – 366 yds, 4 TDs
Marshawn Williams – 362 yds, 3 TDs, 4.0 ypc

brewer_michaelWinner: Michael Brewer. He’s the straw that stirs the drink. Does he turn the ball over too much? Yes. But he also moves the offense better than it has since David Wilson, Danny Coale and Jarred Boykin were here. Virginia Tech’s current total offensive ranking is 71st. The Hokies were ranked 101st in total offense last year. There has been a significant improvement and lot of that can be attributed to better QB play (sorry, Logan).

Defensive MVP

Finalists:

Kendall Fuller – 1 INT, 1 TD, 2 Sacks, 13 passes defended
Ken Ekanem – 5 sacks, 8.5 TFL, 12 QBHs, 1 FF
Chase Williams – 23 solo tackles, 3.5 Sacks, 8.5 TFL, 14 QBHs, 1 FF

fuller_kendallWinner: Kendall Fuller. Seriously, who else could it be? When you throw at Kendall Fuller, you do it at your own peril. He has locked down every receiver he has faced this year. He basically shuts down one side of the field for the opposing offense. I’d rather not imagine what the Hokies’ defense would look like this year without him. Few teams in the country have a weapon in the secondary like Kendall Fuller.

Best position coach

Finalists:

Aaron Moorehead
Charley Wiles
Bryan Stinespring

moorehead_aaronWinner: Aaron Moorehead. It helps when you recruit two players like Isaiah Ford and Cam Phillips. Last year, he squeezed as much production as possible from a receiving corps that Rece Davis referred to as “hot garbage” after the Alabama game. This year with Ford, Phillips and Byrn you’re starting to see a lot of production from that position group. It is not easy to get true freshmen to perform at the high level that Ford and Phillips are and that’s a testament to the good work of Aaron Moorehead.

Most surprising player

Finalists:

Bucky Hodges – 234 yds, 4 TDs
Shai McKenzie – 279 yds, 3 TDs, 5.1 ypc
Cam Phillips – 249 yds, 1 TD

hodges_buckyWinner: Bucky Hodges. The word out of spring and fall practice was that Bucky Hodges looked really good and would contribute this year at TE. No one said he would be the next Jimmy Graham (maybe that’s a little bit of an exaggeration). He looks very similar to TEs that have been drafted to the NFL in recent years (Ebron, Ertz, Reed). Enjoy him while we have him because he might be gone sooner rather than later. He’s that good.

North Carolina Preview and Prediction

Two questions going into this game: How bad is UNC’s defense and how bad is VT’s offense? The real answer is that no one really knows. What is clear is that both groups can do better than they have been. Which team is going to step up and get themselves back into the Coastal division race? Since both teams are facing an 0-2 hole in conference play, I think it’s going to be a knock-down, drag-out affair.

The Hokies should be able to run and pass effectively in this game. UNC’s defensive stats are not particularly impressive. In this game, it is important that they do not get away from the run game. They need to help Michael Brewer by taking some of the pressure off of him by running Marshawn Williams and Trey Edmunds. The more Brewer is forced to throw, the more nervous I get about the outcome. The Hokies need him to be more game-manager than gunslinger.

On defense, THE HOKIES HAVE TO LIMIT THE BIG PLAYS! How many times do we have to say that this year? Statistically, this defense looks pretty good even with all the big plays they’ve given up, which means they’ve been dominant when they aren’t giving up plays of 20+ yards. Carolina has plenty of talented receivers that can make the Hokies pay down field. They cannot afford another East Carolina-like performance. Chuck Clark and Donovan Riley are going to have bring their A-game to this one.

This is a strange game to predict. Neither team has been particularly consistent on either side of the ball. Given that the loser of this game will be in trouble as far as the Coastal division is concerned, I expect both teams to bring their best effort. I think it’s going to be a close one. There are definitely reasons to feel hopeful but I just don’t see the Hokies pulling this one out on the road.

Prediction: North Carolina 31, Virginia Tech 28

North Carolina Q&A with Zach Evans

You can follow Zach on twitter @ztevans

What are your thoughts on your team so far?

The good news is that UNC’s offense has gotten better each week. Clemson has one of the best defenses in the ACC, and the Heels rebounded from a slow start to put up 35 points against them. The bad news, of course, is that UNC’s defense probably qualifies for FEMA assistance at this point. Scoring 35 points isn’t good enough when you’re giving up 50 … or 70 in the case of the East Carolina game.

What are your expectations going into the Virginia Tech game?

The game will be decided when Virginia Tech has the ball. As I said on this week’s ACC Weekly podcast, which also featured the royal steed of stationary running machines, it will be the stoppable force of Virginia Tech’s pedestrian offense under Michael Brewer against the movable object that has been UNC’s porous defense. If Brewer can complete enough passes to the right team and force UNC to make tackles, Virginia Tech will win. If not, UNC will win.

At this point, how do you see the Coastal Division shaking out?

I’d love to have some expert analysis of the Coastal, but I am utterly confused and perplexed by the division at this point. I liked Virginia Tech, then they lost to ECU and Georgia Tech. I liked Duke, they lost to Miami. I guess the teams I like most now are Virginia and Miami, which guarantees they will lose to Pitt and Georgia Tech this week. Really, I’m getting a headache just thinking about it.

What is your prediction for the game?

I predict #goacc. Lots and lots of #goacc. What else would we expect from the 12:30 ACC Network Game of the Week? I’m biased enough to think that UNC will generate enough turnovers to squeak out a win in front of the home crowd. But more importantly, I predict #goacc

Grading the Unis – Western Michigan Edition

Helmet: B+

The Hokies have finally joined the shiny/chrome fad in college football. In this case, it was well-executed with a subtle touch in the VT logo as opposed to the Christmas ornaments we’ve seen teams across the country wear in recent years. Looked good.

Jersey: B

I like the orange jerseys in spite of our W-L history wearing them. Pulling these out for the orange effect game seems appropriate. They should only to wear them when the Hokies are at least 3 TD favorites. Otherwise, things can get dicey.

Pants: A

The pants looked great with the orange jerseys! Flawless execution.

Overall: B+

This combo is similar to the one I like to use when I play as the Hokies in NCAA 14. I think it’s a good look and it’s the best possible execution of the orange jerseys without looking like a bunch of pumpkins or like Syracuse. I’m not sure who is coming up with the uni combos this year but they’re doing a great job. No major stumbles thus far. Keep up the good work!

Western Michigan Preview and Prediction

Before I dive into Western Michigan, I’d like to start by talking about how Virginia Tech losses come in twos. I remember thinking right after the ECU game, uh oh, I hope this loss doesn’t get us twice. Let me delve into the recent history of Virginia Tech’s losses coming in twos over past few years and how the Hokies bounced back from those games.

2013

Duke 13-10 L
Boston College 34-27 L
Next Game: Miami 24-42 W

2012

Cincinnati 27-24 L
North Carolina 48-34 L
Next Game: Duke 20-41 W

2010

Boise State 33-30 L
James Madison 21-16 L
Next Game: ECU 27-49 W

I could go on, but I really don’t want to relive the painful memories of other two game losing streaks (2009, 2008 & 2006). Either way, this coaching staff has a strong track record of bouncing back from these two game losing streaks and getting things right. And just like teams of the past, it’s not like this team is void of talent or haven’t shown flashes in the games they lost. The mistakes are correctable. Which brings me to Western Michigan. I think this is the week they circle the wagons and Beamer and Co get things back on track.

What do we know about Western Michigan? They have a very good offense led by RB Jarvion Franklin. Franklin might be one of the best RBs the Hokies face all season and is on his way to putting together a 1,500+ yard season. They’ve played Purdue close and blown out Idaho and Murray State. Defensively though, they have struggled. They rank 55th in total defense and size-wise our offense line should be able to push them off the ball. The Hokies haven’t played many games recently where there has been a significant size and talent disparity between themselves and the opposition, but this is a game where that is definitely the case. This will not be another shellacking like the Hokies used to put on the Broncos in the early 2000’s but the Hokies should be able to win comfortably. However, the Broncos will finally get on the board after being shutout in the three previous meetings with the Hokies. I think Vegas has this line right about where it needs to be (-21).

Prediction: Virginia Tech 35, Western Michigan 14

Western Michigan Q&A with David Drew of the Kalamazoo Gazette

You can follow David on twitter @Drew_On_WMU or read his latest stories at mlive.com/broncos.

What are your thoughts on your team so far?

The Broncos have really surprised me offensively. WMU scored 17 points per game last year, which was one of the worst averages in the country. Right now, WMU is scoring 41 per game through its first three games. I don’t expect that high output to continue, but the Broncos have additional weapons in freshman running back Jarvion Franklin, who is on a record-breaking pace so far, and sophomore Daniel Braverman, who is a quick shifty player that can make people miss in the open field. WMU’s offense looks much different than it did last year and is no longer one-dimensional.

Defensively, WMU is still very much a work in progress, especially in the front seven. Western Michigan recorded seven sacks last season and was the only team in the country to fail to reach double digits in that category. The Broncos recorded four sacks at Idaho and put up a good rush against Murray State. WMU’s secondary was billed as a strength of the team coming into the season and it’s been okay so far, though I think it’s fair to say it’s almost been a bit of a disappointment.

Overall, WMU is a work in progress. I predicted WMU would win three games this season. Maybe the Broncos get to four or five, but this isn’t a bowl team or one that will contend for a conference championship. Coach P.J. Fleck is stockpiling the talent in recruiting, but it’s going to take time for the young guys to gain experience.

What are your expectations going into the Virginia Tech game?

WMU’s fan base is very excited right now as the Broncos are on a two-game winning streak for the first time since 2011. There are some who feel WMU can take down a reeling Va. Tech team, but I’m not one of them. The Hokies won 63-0 the last time WMU came to Blacksburg in 2004. I don’t think it will be that lopsided, but I don’t see this one being in the single digits either. If this one starts getting out of hand it’s important WMU take out its key players, take their check from Va. Tech and get home healthy and ready for MAC play, where anything can happen.

How do Western Michigan fans view Virginia Tech’s program?

I think WMU fans know and admire/respect what kind of tradition and success VT has had over the years. As I said, there are some that think an upset can happen, but I think most know this one will be tough and it’s important that their team not get too beat up. WMU coach P.J. Fleck talked at Sunday’s practice about how much respect he has for Frank Beamer and what he’s done at Va. Tech. WMU will go into this one confident, but not cocky and I think the same goes for its fan base.

What is your prediction for the game?

I think WMU gets a touchdown in the first quarter, but I don’t see this one staying close for long. Oddsmakers have the Hokies favored by 27.5 points. I think that’s a little high, but not out of the question. My final score: Virginia Tech 41, Western Michigan 17.

Taking the pulse of the program

This innocuous tweet from @Beamer_Ball (Frank Beamer’s personal website) set of a firestorm of reaction from the Hokie faithful:

Pretty safe to say that Hokie fans are not too happy with the results of the last two games.

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