Photo courtesy of Virginia Tech athletics
It’s a new year for Virginia Tech football.
A new year to start a new streak and a new year to build a new foundation. For head coach Justin Fuente, it will be year No. 6.
Fuente’s seat will be quite warm. Many believed that he would be fired this past year following a 5-6 finish that served as the Hokies’ first losing regular season since 1992.
There were high expectations heading into last year too. Virginia Tech just could not get it done, ultimately leading to a disappointment of a season.
Luckily for the Hokies, they return a decent chunk of production for the 2021 season, headlined by tight end James Mitchell, wide receivers Tre Turner and Tayvion Robinson, and quarterback Braxton Burmeister. Burmeister took over behind center in the Hokies’ 45-10 loss to Clemson, and impressed big-time in the 33-15 thumping of the Virginia Cavaliers. They do lose star running back Khalil Herbert, but there is some star power in the running backs room to take over for the potential late-round draft pick.
Defensively, Virginia Tech does lose some key pieces. Safety Divine Deablo is heading to the NFL, as well as linebacker Rayshard Ashby. Defensive tackles Jarrod Hewitt, and Justus Reed have said they will not use their extra year of eligibility.
To fill voids, Fuente hit the transfer market hard. Tae Daley from Vanderbilt should slot in nicely for Deablo, while Jordan Williams from Clemson should hold down the fort on the defensive line for now second-year defensive coordinator Justin Hamilton.
As far as the schedule goes, the Hokies open up with six of their first seven at home at what should be an energetic Lane Stadium. The Virginia Tech faithful will be ready to jump to Enter Sandman after not being able to do so last year.
The Hokies close with four of five on the road, making it crucial for Fuente and company to get off to a hot start in 2021.
They open up on either a Thursday or Friday night against ACC Coastal foe North Carolina. Early in the season should be a good time to get North Carolina as the Tar Heels may still be searching for offensive replacements for the likes of Michael Carter, Javonte Williams, Dazz Newsome, and Dyami Brown.
The Hokies will also travel up Country Roads to West Virginia in September, with the sacred Black Diamond Trophy on the line, That trophy currently resides in Blacksburg.
Some more highlights include hosting Notre Dame and Pittsburgh in October. The Hokies head to Georgia Tech to close out the month before opening up November on a Friday night in Chestnut Hill at Boston College.
Virginia Tech will then host Duke, before closing out the season at Miami and Virginia — a tough finish. The Hokies’ entire schedule can be found below:
Sept 2 or 3: North Carolina
Sept. 11: Middle Tennessee
Sept. 18: at West Virginia
Sept. 25: Richmond
Oct. 9: Notre Dame
Oct. 16: Pittsburgh
Oct. 23: Syracuse
Oct. 30: at Georgia Tech
Nov. 5: at Boston College
Nov. 13: Duke
Nov. 20: at Miami
Nov. 27: at Virginia