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2021 Virginia Tech Hokies: Make of Break Year for Fuente
Geoff Burke-USA TODAY Sports

2021 Virginia Tech Hokies: Make of Break Year for Fuente

This is a big year for Virginia Tech as they try to get back to the upper echelon in a conference they once competed for championships in. It is also a huge year for Coach Justin Fuente who needs a major improvement from last year’s 5-6 record to keep his job in Blacksburg. The recruiting class was disappointing and there might be too many missing pieces for the strides that need to be made.

Offense: There will be new QB in 2021 and RB Khalil Herbert has left for the NFL and the offensive line needs to plug up some holes also. But, there are reasons for optimism for the Hokies. QB Braxton Burmeister, a transfer from Oregon, started 4 games last year including the finale against Virginia and he will get the nod to start the season. He needs to emerge and be able to make plays. RB Raheem Blackshear was heavily hyped last year but didn’t pan out. He needs to realize his potential. There is big-play potential in the receiving corps and they need to step up. The offense will be serviceable at best and needs to get better as the season progresses.

Defense: The defense had a poor year in 2020 and needs to bounce back. Five key starters are gone from a defense that allowed 32 points and 448 yards per game so that might not be a bad thing. There are transfers, DT Jordan Williams from Clemson and S Tae Daley from Vanderbilt who will step in immediately and DE Amare Barno is an emerging star. Because of Covid problems in the secondary, a lot of guys saw action and gained valuable experience. There are reasons to believe this group will be much better.

Non-Conference Schedule:

9/11 Middle Tennessee

9/18 at West Virginia

9/25 Richmond

10/9. Notre Dame.

This non-con schedule is definitely a challenge. The Middle Tennessee and Richmond games are must-wins of course. The game at West Virginia is very tough and the home game with Notre Dame will be a battle. If the Hokies can somehow win 3 of those games they might be headed to a good season. But 2-2 is more realistic.

Conference Schedule:

9/3 North Carolina

10/16 Pittsburgh

10/23 Syracuse

10/30 at Georgia Tech

11/5 at Boston College

11/13 Duke

11/20 at Miami

11/27 at Virginia

The conference schedule is very manageable and Clemson is missing. They start off with 3 straight home games and the opener against North Carolina could tip the whole season on the good side if the Hokies can win. Pitt, Syracuse, and Duke are must wins. The road games aren’t bad either. Georgia Tech, Boston College, and Virginia are certainly winnable and it is not a stretch to think that they could win in Miami.

Summary: No matter what transpires this season in Blacksburg it will be interesting when you throw in the drama surrounding Fuente’s job security. If Virginia Tech can stay healthy the schedule sets up for them to have a decent year in the conference. They could finish 2nd and not finishing in the Top-3 will probably bring an end to he head coach.

Predicted Finish: 3rd in the Coastal Division

Overall Record: 7-5

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