Virginia Tech was good last season but not good enough. It managed a decent 8-5 record, yet it lost to UVA and then Kentucky in the Belk Bowl. Inconsistent results were the main problem for the Hokies and something head coach Justin Fuente will hope to improve in his fifth year.
They had an early preseason over/under of 8.5 wins at 5Dimes with +12 to 1 to win the ACC, once again a top contender in the Coastal division.
Hooker to Lead Offense
Finding more offensive consistency starts with quarterback Hendon Hooker, who should be the guy from the start after averaging 9.6 yards per attempt for 13 touchdowns and two picks while also rushing for 356 yards and five touchdowns.
Hooker gave this offense a jolt in the second half of the season and should get this group to improve on last year’s 385.2 yards and 30.7 points per game. Helping Hooker and company is a line that should return all of its starters.
If things come to fruition, the Hokies could have one of the better offenses in the conference. The most exciting options are in the backfield in Khalil Herbert from Kansas and Raheem Blackshear from Rutgers.
Those guys could form a nice duo in this offense along with returning Keshawn King (340 yards). The receiving corps will have some new faces on the depth chart, but Tre Turner (553 yards, 4 TDs) and Tayvion Robinson (404 yards) are still around to help Hooker.
Defense was Inconsistent
The defense had better numbers last year, allowing 359.9 yards and 23.7 points per game, but it faltered when games mattered more at the end of the season, allowing 76 points in the final two losses.
The good news is that 10 starters should return to the group with plenty more depth available. The linebacking corps stands out with a trio of Rayshard Ashby (120 tackles), Dax Hollifield and Alan Tisdale.
Helping even more, the secondary is also loaded with corners Jermaine Waller and Caleb Farley, as well as safety Divine Deablo. Throw in a front that returns just about everyone led by transfer end Justus Reed and improvement is possible.
Difficult Road Schedule
Given possible improvement on both sides of the ball, one would think a couple more wins is possible for Virginia Tech, but a difficult road schedule in ACC play will provide problems.
The Hookies have to travel to UNC, Louisville, Pitt and Duke, any of which could be losses. The positive about the schedule is that Penn State comes to Blacksburg and every other game should be a win.
Sure, it’s possible the Hokies only reach seven wins and lose their four ACC road games, but if Hooker can build on what he did at the end of last year, it wouldn’t be surprising if this team made it to the ACC title game on the back of nine or 10 wins.
2020 Virginia Tech Hokies Schedule
Sept. 5 vs. Liberty
Sept. 12 vs. Penn State (early preseason line VT +5.5)
Sept. 19 at Middle Tennessee
Sept. 26 vs. North Alabama
Oct. 3 vs. Georgia Tech
Oct. 10 at North Carolina
Oct. 22 vs. Boston College
Oct. 31 at Louisville
Nov. 6 at Pittsburgh
Nov. 14 vs. Miami
Nov. 21 at Duke
Nov. 28 vs. Virginia