Labor Day. No better way to kick off the season than at home against a quality conference opponent. I’ll spare you the historical details of how one sided this match-up has been as the mainstays of the programs are only serving as honorary captains: Bobby Bowden and Frank Beamer.
Both Virginia Tech head coach Justin Fuente and Willie Taggart prefer a wide-open approach to offense which can make for a high scoring game.
Let me be frank when I say that nothing scares me about Virginia Tech. I give respect to the name and the brand, but for me to not think FSU won’t win this game is simply false humility. Anybody can lose on any given day, sure, though from a purely athletic perspective I’ve got to give this to FSU.
Before I go into an in-depth breakdown, I need the non-Hokie fans who will read this to do one thing for me without Google: name three skill players from the VT offense. If you can do that, I’ll increase the odds of them winning.
After that, do the same thing for defense.
I cover the ACC and can’t do it. Again, not saying they are bad, I’m just saying nobody is overly excited about Hokie football besides Hokie fans.
(I do know Virginia Tech offensive lineman Kyle Chung and tight end Chris Cunningham, but that’s because I’ve trained them at Boost Sports Performance in Jacksonville during their prep years.)
Virginia Tech returns quarterback Josh Jackson who threw for almost 3,000 yards last season and is very athletic. The questions I have are who’s he going to throw it to as wide receiver Cam Phillips is gone and can they establish a running game?
Everyone questions FSU’s offensive line, but statistically speaking, the FSU offense out-produced the Hokies’ offense last year.
Deondre Francois is back for FSU as the starting QB. This will be his first live action against a good defensive coach. How will that knee hold up?
FSU’s backfield returns two of the top rushers in the ACC in Jacques Patrick and Cam Akers with talented Khalan Laborn itching for carries. FSU returns leading receiver Nyqwan Murray and has high hopes for its younger receivers, particularly Tamorrion Terry, D.J. Matthews and true freshman Treshaun Harrison.
The deciding factor in all this will be the offensive line. I’m in the minority of those who don’t believe FSU’s offensive line is as bad as advertised.
I personally believe that FSU’s offensive line is better, along with its offensive backfield, including QB, and the receiving core.
Virginia Tech’s Bud Foster is an amazing defensive coordinator. Acknowledging that, his defense suffered enormous hits this offseason due to the draft, graduation, injury and suspension. Add to that the difficulty for him gameplanning against an offense with limited film of.
Limited meaning he’s never seen these plays run by these horses. No one has.
The Hokies loose Tremaine Edwards, who had a nose for the ball, Andrew Motuapuaka from the front, and have like five scholarship players left in the secondary. Foster is going to have to bring pressure early and often. Has injury and suspension left VT deep enough to pull that off?
FSU will feature a different defensive scheme under new coordinator Harlon Barnett. The FSU defensive line and secondary are solid with the weak spot being linebacker core.
FSU hasn’t had a LB stand out since Telvin Smith.
I’ve played against teams with subpar linebackers, but if the defensive line is dominate, you can’t get to them.
I question if FSU afford to leave its cornerbacks on islands in one-on-one coverage? That leaves you exposed for the big play. Jackson’s athletic ability can exploit big gaps in the defense.
This is less of a knock on the coaching of Foster and more of a realistic look at their depth chart and what’s happened this off-season. Better college defenses rotate 22 players; from reports out of Blacksburg you wonder if VT is two-deep at every position. With the number of plays both offenses plan on putting out, you’re going to need quality bodies.
Other Factors and Predictions
The Doak will be rocking and even more crazy than usually with Virginia Tech returning a large portion of its ticket allotment. Fuente is a good coach who has had a time to lay a foundation with his players. Taggart is brand new and has energized the program unlike I’ve ever seen. Fuente has faced adversity with his team, Taggart hasn’t.
How will Taggart control the ebbs and flows of his team?
Heck that won’t really matter at the end of the day.
FSU 42 – VT 24 with both teams struggling offensively in the first half and a track meet in the second half. Should be a good game.
Article Originally Appeared on Gridiron Now: http://gridironnow.com/florida-state-vs-virginia-tech-prediction-does-willie-taggart-era-start-with-a-bang