Welcome to the next installment of our 2022 opponent previews! Today we’ll be looking at our engineering school brethren, the Virginia Tech Hokies.
All-time record: 760–485–46 (.607)
National Titles: 0
ACC Titles: 4 (‘04, ‘07, ‘08, ‘10)
All-time record vs GT: 11-7
Current Head Coach: Brent Pry (first year)
2021 Season Review
Record: 6-7 (4-4 ACC)
ACC finish: 3rd Coastal
Against GT: W 26-17
Final SP+ ranking: 70th overall (85th offense, 55th defense, 31st special teams)
After a brief appearance in the Top 25 owing to an opening-game win against then-#10 UNC, the 2021 VT Hokies struggled to put together a good season. They lost a couple close games, had their biggest margin of victory against lowly Duke, and then got blown out by Maryland in the Pinstripe Bowl. Head Coach Justin Fuente left in a “mutual parting of ways” with two games left in the season. Now, first time Head Coach Brent Pry will be hoping to get the Hokies back on track after a disappointing couple of years.
There will be a lot of changes on the offensive side of the ball in 2022. First, Pry hired Tyler Bowen from the Jaguars (and previously Penn State) to be the new OC. The Hokies have also lost several of their highest production players to either the transfer portal or the NFL, most notably QB Braxton Burmeister, top WRs Tre Turner and Tayvion Robinson, and top RB Raheem Blackshear. They’ve picked up some transfers at the QB (Grant Wells from Marshall, Jason Brown from South Carolina) and WR (Jadan Blue from Temple) positions but it’ll be nearly a complete reset at the skill position. The OL has also lost a ton of depth with three starters moving on to the NFL.
Defense looks to be the focus in 2022 given that Pry was previously the DC for a very successful Penn State unit. There’s a good amount of experience on the roster, especially at LB and in the secondary. The DL was the weak spot in 2021 and that trend looks like it might continue unless some of the incoming recruits can contribute immediately. It looks like more of the same from 2021 might be expected - nothing amazing, but fairly solid and consistent defensive play.
Overall the Hokies are a bit of a mystery and there are a lot of questions to be answered. The defense may be able to carry on with business as usual but the offense will be going through a nearly complete rebuild. I think a lot is going to hinge on how good their transfer QBs can be - solid QB play can boost any team and if the defense can keep games close that’ll give them their best shot. I think somewhere around five total wins is a reasonable expectation.
As far as what GT fans can expect from this game, I think it’s early to say. Both of us are going through a lot of changes and this game is late in the year - anything can happen between now and November. I’ll say this though: this game probably should be a win for the Jackets. VT has had our number so far in the Collins era but this year we have the roster and experience advantages. It’s all going to come down to our defense; if we can shut down their hopefully-struggling offense and not give up easy points then I think we have a great shot at a win.
Let me know in the comments what y’all think we can expect from the Hokies this year and how you like our chances!