Who’s throwing and who’s kicking?
Virginia Tech Coach Frank Beamer often points out that as long as he has “a good quarterback, a good kicker and good health,” he’ll continue on in Blacksburg for the foreseeable future. But he enters the 2014 preseason in search of the first two. The battle to be Logan Thomas’s replacement will dominate training camp, with Texas Tech transfer Michael Brewer, redshirt sophomore Brenden Motley, redshirt senior Mark Leal and a collection of freshmen competing to be the starting quarterback for the Hokies’ season opener against William and Mary. At place kicker, senior Michael Branthover (DeMatha) and Richmond transfer Rimington Hingshaw must become more consistent or risk losing the job to freshman Michael Santamaria.
Re-igniting the run
For the second straight year, offensive coordinator Scot Loeffler will spend much of August trying to re-discover Virginia Tech’s once vaunted rushing attack. The Hokies bring back plenty of weapons, with tailback Trey Edmunds recovered from a broken tibia, junior J.C. Coleman healthy again after ankle problems slowed him last fall and promising freshman Marshawn Williams joining the backfield mix. But an underwhelming offensive line that returns experienced pieces and talented underclassmen will determine whether the Hokies can churn out yards on the ground again. New position coach Stacy Searels must decide if sophomores Wyatt Teller, Augie Conte and Alston Smith have developed enough to take starting jobs from their more veteran counterparts.
A reloaded defense
The Hokies lost a lot of production in their front seven off last year’s dominating defense, but defensive coordinator Bud Foster believes the new faces will bring more speed to the field. A secondary that could be the nation’s best, led by former All-Met Player of the Year Kendall Fuller, should help with the inexperience along the defensive line and at linebacker. The unit will need to gel quickly if Virginia Tech is to contend in the ACC’s wide open Coastal division.