Tag Archives: Brandon Facyson

2017 Virginia Tech Season Preview

Justin Fuente had a great debut going 10-4 in his first season. This included wins over Coastal division rivals Miami, Pitt and UNC. He also brought back order to the ECU series with a resounding victory. Then he took the Hokies back to the ACC Championship Game for the first time since 2011. There they took the eventual National Champions to the final possession. Pretty good first season all things considered.

For all that Fuente did well in 2016, it will be challenging to repeat or exceed the same level of success in 2017. The Hokies will have a new quarterback and have to replace three of their top four receiving targets from 2016.  This will be a season where the Hokies will have to lean on the defensive side of the ball to have success. We’ve seen this story before.

Offense

Joshua Jackson should be a solid QB for the Hokies. He was close to playing himself into the starting job as a true freshman last year. Justin Fuente likes him because he makes good decisions. He is the type of quarterback who will make the correct read on each play and not turn the ball over. That is very important to Fuente’s offense. Joshua Jackson is the type of quarterback that Fuente has liked in the past. If he had the same supporting cast as Jerod Evans had, I could see him putting up similar numbers. Unfortunately, Isaiah Ford, Bucky Hodges and Sam Rogers are no longer around.

Healthy bodies at the running back position will also help Joshua Jackson. Last season, the Hokies had to rely on Travon McMillian, Sam Rogers and Steven Peoples. The other running backs on the roster were nursing injuries or off-the-field issues. This year McMillian returns along with Deshawn McClease, Peoples and newcomer Jalen Holston. It’s good to have healthy and capable options to choose from in the running game. You should see rushing yards from scrimmage improve from that position group. A lot of that will come from read-option plays like we saw last year.

Look for Cam Phillips to have a huge year as the Hokies’ primary pass catcher. I’m expecting him to be first or second team All-ACC this year. He should see around the same amount of targets as Isaiah Ford did last year. Phillip Patterson and Eric Kumah should fill that 2nd receiver role on the outside. They lack experience but will get better as the year goes on. There are a variety of options in the slot like CJ Carroll, Henri Murphy, Hezekiah Grimsley and Sean Savoy. This inexperienced group will need to step up for the Hokies to have an effective offense.

Defense

On defense, the Hokies should be stout. This is a defense that could be better than last year’s group which finished 18th in total defense. The Hokies have a talented secondary. They also boast one of the most experienced group of linebackers in the country. The biggest question mark is on the defensive line where there is not much experience or depth. The Hokies will need some young players step up.

The defensive line returns four players with starting experience. The starting line features Vinny Mihota, Trevon Hill, Tim Settle and Ricky Walker. While all have enough talent to be front line starters, the depth behind them is full of unknowns. The good news is that the Hokies have a lot young players to choose from. In previous seasons, the Hokies have been able to work with lineups like this. A mix of experienced starters and inexperienced backups. They need to make sure to avoid the injury bug. That would cause major issues for this position group.

For the first time in a long time, the Hokies linebackers are a major strength. They are one of the most talented and experienced groups in the ACC. Andrew Motuapuaka was third team All-ACC and a statistical leader in the conference. Tremaine Edmunds was second team All-ACC and could choose to leave early for the NFL at season’s end. That leaves Mook Reynolds, who was one of the best hybrid linebackers in the conference in 2016. And came on strong at the end of last season. This is an elite group and one of the best in the ACC.

No surprise the secondary is full of talent. This is DBU after all. The corner position will cycle between Brandon Facyson, Greg Stroman and Adonis Alexander. Terrell Edmunds and Reggie Floyd will split duties at the safety positions. Add in all-everything true freshman Devon Hunter who can step in and provide support. This is a talented unit.

Special Teams

Special teams went back to being special under James Shibest. #Shibestball became a thing in 2016. I look forward to more special teams plays like the fake punt he drew up against Clemson last season. Joey Slye is back to boom the ball on kickoffs and be very accurate inside 50 yards on field goals. He has one last chance to prove he can make those 50 yarders. New Aussie punter Oscar Bradburn has a canon for a leg but he will need to adjust to American football. I wouldn’t expect a huge drop-off in the punting game. I think the Hokies should be able to win the field position battle in most games. I would also expect big things from Greg Stroman in the return game. He already has 2 career punt return touchdowns. It would be surprising if he didn’t add to that this year.

2017 Outlook

The good news for the Hokies is that the Coastal division is full of teams with question marks. Only UVA and Duke return their quarterbacks from last year. The team that is able to re-load the best on offense is the team that will win the division.

One of the Hokies biggest challenges this year, is to win all the games they should win. Last year, the Hokies should have beaten Tennessee, Syracuse and Georgia Tech. At the end of the season, the Hokies were statistically better than those three teams but they stumbled when they played them. The Hokies will look for more consistency this season. But it will be difficult with so many new faces on offense.

* Key games for the Hokies: Clemson, at Miami, at Georgia Tech

Date Opponent Prediction
Sun, Sep 3 West Virginia W
Sat, Sep 9 Delaware W
Sat, Sep 16 @ East Carolina W
Sat, Sep 23 Old Dominion W
Sat, Sep 30 Clemson* L
Sat, Oct 7 @ Boston College W
Sat, Oct 21 UNC W
Sat, Oct 28 Duke W
Sat, Nov 4 @ Miami FL* L
Sat, Nov 11 @ Georgia Tech* L
Sat, Nov 18 Pittsburgh W
Fri, Nov 24 @ Virginia W

Final Regular Season Record: 9-3 (5-3 ACC)
Expected finish: 2nd in Coastal Division
Final Regular Season Ranking: 19th
Predicted Bowl Game: TaxSlayer Bowl in Jacksonville, FL

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UVA Preview and Prediction

This is a must win. Can you imagine Mike London’s team ending Frank Beamer’s last season with a loss and snapping the bowl streak? Neither can I. But realistically, it could happen.

The Hoos are a middling team, as they have been for the past decade or so. They’ve been surprisingly tough at home. They’ve taken Notre Dame, Pitt, Miami and Louisville to the final whistle. This doesn’t appear to be a UVA team that you can put away early.

On offense, UVA is effective in the passing game. They are ranked 45th in the nation in passing offense and move the ball pretty well thru the air. With a banged up Brandon Facyson, that could be something to watch for.

When VT has the football, they are going up against a defense that hasn’t been particularly impressive. By the numbers, it’s a struggling offense against a struggling defense. The Hokies will need a big day from Travon McMillian in order to move the ball consistently.

If there is one area where the Hokies should have an advantage, it is on special teams. Even though it may not seem like it, the Hokies have been very efficient on special teams this year and in a close game like this, it could play to the Hokies advantage. Watch for this particularly on punt and kick returns.

The stats show the Hokies as a slight favorite in this matchup. If you’re looking from a talent standpoint, the Hokies should have a moderate talent advantage over the Hoos. If the Hokies play as well as they did against UNC, they should win by two scores. Ultimately, I think it’ll be a close game just like last year’s game was. Whoever makes the biggest mistake or the worst mistake will lose. Hopefully, the Hokies find a way to win and make it twelve straight and send Beamer to his 23rd bowl game.

Prediction: Virginia Tech 24, UVA 17

ECU Preview and Prediction

In 2015, the Hokies are simply a better team than ECU. Basically, across the board. That was also the case last year but ECU had some weapons in the form of Shane Carden, Justin Hardy and Cam Worthy which evened the playing field a bit. I’m still trying to figure out what happened last year. It was some strange combination of Ohio State hangover, nagging injuries and a sleepy start for a nooner. Either way, ECU earned it last year but I’m not sure they have the horses this year.

On paper, the matchup of ECU’s offense vs VT’s defense appears to favor the Hokies. ECU has a one dimensional offense and their strength (passing) matches up with VT’s strength (secondary). The only caveats to that are health (Fuller & Facyson) and inexperience (Alexander). Otherwise, VT should be able to limit what ECU can do thru the air. On the ground, ECU is a non-factor. The only team they’ve been able to run on is Towson and they’re not exactly a powerhouse. Watch out for their TE Bryce Williams though. He could present some problems for VT’s LBs and secondary.

For the offense and Brenden Motley, this game represents a step up in competition and the atmosphere will be charged. If VT can lean on the run game like they did against Purdue, I think they should be able to move the ball well against this ECU defense. I don’t think they will be asking too much from Brenden Motley in this game. The gameplan should be to methodically move the ball downfield with the run setting up the pass. ECU does not give up many big plays but if VT just takes it one first down at a time, they should be a good shape.

This game is regularly described as ECU’s biggest game on the schedule. ECU will be on national TV in front of a hyped crowd. Expect their best effort. I think the game at Purdue was good preparation for this game. It gave the Hokies some confidence that they could go on the road and win. This game will certainly be more difficult but I think this year’s Hokies are up to the challenge. Key to this game will be the defense forcing a couple of three and outs early and getting the crowd out of the game. If they can do that and avoid a turnover fest on offense, they should be in good shape.

Prediction: Virginia Tech 31, ECU 17