We continue to the opponent previews today with Georgia Tech Coastal arch nemesis, Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University. The Hokies are at a pivotal moment in their program’s history, bringing in a new coach for the first time in decades.
On the surface, last year’s TECHmo bowl seemed like just another disappointing loss in an awful 2015 season, but it was an important game for Tech’s young players. Many freshmen had breakout performances despite the loss, and they’ll aim to build on their experiences during this year’s edition of the rivalry.
HC Frank Beamer
After a storied career with the program he built, Beamer will be headed for retirement. The legendary coach permanently left his mark on his alma mater, winning 234 games. Including his time as Head Coach at Murray State, Beamer totaled an impressive 280 career wins. That’s good for 6th all-time among D1 coaches and 15th at all levels of college football.
Beamer’s career was marked by his strong defenses and trademarked “Beamerball” which emphasized exceptional special teams play.
However, from 2011-2015, it became clear that it was time for Beamer to retire and for the Hokies to move on. The offense stagnated, and the Hokies failed to reach the ACC title game for 4 straight years after winning 3/4 ACC championships from 2007-2010. Regardless, Beamer will be forever known as the all time greats in his profession, and will begin a well-deserved retirement. Celebrate in your own way, Frank!
DT Luther Maddy
Finally, after years of dealing with Maddy on the interior, he has finally played through his eligibility. Maddy was a force to be reckoned with against the Jackets, using his athleticism to be a disruptive force along the interior. Georgia Tech fans should be glad they won’t be seeing Maddy suit up for the Hokies this year.
DE Dadi Nicolas
The Hokies also lost DE Dadi Nicolas along the defensive line, another long-time contributor for that unit. Nicolas was a player well-known for creative use of his hands.
Perhaps his most important claim to fame, however, is that Nicolas is the only man to lay hands on the legendary Ron Cherry and live to tell about it.
Son, I’ll give you the business
-Ron Cherry, probably
If you pause the vine at just the right second, you can see the exact moment when Cherry decides to spare his life. Truly, Tech is lucky to no longer have to play against someone who could survive such an ordeal.
QB Michael Brewer
While a 2-year starter with the Hokies, Brewer ran some of the most ineffective offenses the program had seen in years. Exhibit A:
It wasn’t completely Brewer’s fault, as he was their best option, but he was part of the problem. In each of his 2 games against Tech, he gave up a Pick-6 on an egregious error. In 2014, I threw a middle screen up for grabs while under pressure, and PJ Davis ran it to the house. In 2015, he had Bucky Hodges open on a crossing route, but threw the ball way behind him, and into the arms Brant Mitchell, who was trailing in coverage. The Hokies will be starting fresh at QB this year, but it could end up being an upgrade by the time the TECHmo Bowl rolls around.
DC Bud Foster
Wh....What? How? Why are you still here Bud? After years of turning down other DC positions, it was presumed that Foster was the coach-in-waiting at VPISU. However, once Beamer eventually retired, the AD went with Justin Fuente instead. Surely Foster would leave the program after being passed up like that, right? Nope, he’s still here. While Foster vs. Johnson has been an annual treat for those of us who enjoy analyzing the Xs and Os of football, most Jacket fans would rather see Foster out of the conference. This begs the question, how did they convince him to stay? Is he being blackmailed? What kinds of skeletons does he have in his closet? Please speculate wildly in the comments.
Blink twice if you’re being held hostage, Bud.
LB Andrew Motuapuaka
Tech’s struggles in blocking the Middle Linebacker last year were well documented, but perhaps nowhere did it cost the Jackets more than it did against the Hokies. Motuapuaka was all over the field, making explosive-play-saving tackles, forcing fumbles, and racking up TFLs. Was this the doing of a bad Tech OL, or was Motuapuaka’s prowess the cause? The answer to questions like this is usually both, and that’s the case here. This will be a challenge for the inexperienced OTs on the Tech line.
TE Bucky Hodges
At 6-7 with good route-running ability, Hodges is a match-up problem for many opposing defenses. Last year, Hodges drew a critical pass interference call against Lawrence Austin to give the Hokies a fresh set of downs in the red zone. It will be interesting to see if Roof switches up his personnel to account for match-up issues next year.
HC Justin Fuente
After years of failures on the offensive side of the football, the Hokies elected to hire one of the most sought-after offensive minds available to fill their vacant head coaching position. Fuente elevated the Memphis program to the upper tier of the AAC, only to run into another rising offensive mind, Tom Herman, and his Houston Cougars.
Fuente runs a hurry-up spread offense, and Tech will need to exercise its newly-found depth along the defensive line in order to succeed. There isn’t enough space in this article to go over the scheme, and it will be interesting to see how Fuente adjust’s to the Hokie personnel. After all, he doesn’t have Paxton Lynch as a QB anymore. He does however, have:
QB Jerod Evans
A prized Juco transfer, Evans was rated a Mid 4-star dual-threat quarterback coming out of Trinity Valley CC in Athens Texas. If that college sounds familiar to Tech fans, it’s the same school attended by new Jacket DE Desmond Branch. Evans could be a big-time threat for the Hokies, he has good pocket fundamentals, and can make a wide variety of throws with accuracy and velocity. Oh, and he can run too. He hasn’t been named the starter yet by Fuente, but he has me worried more than any other player on the roster.
DT Tim Settle
Listed at 328 lbs, Settle is a big man, and could pose an issue for the Jackets when they try to establish the dive. The redshirt Freshman is the antithesis of Luther Maddy as a player, but he could wreak the same amount of havoc. I’ll be watching Settle’s contributions closely, as it will be interesting to see how Foster integrates him into his anti-spread option defense, which normally emphasizes speed over size.
What to Expect
Points have always been at a premium for Georgia Tech in these match-ups, and this year will be no different. The Tech offense should improve from last year’s disaster, but Foster has always been a thorn in Paul Johnson’s side. The defense will also need to step up and defend a fast-paced spread offense, something they’ve failed to do recently. Improved depth on defense should help.
Wherever Frank Beamer watches the game, let’s hope he looks less like this:
and more like this: