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Previewing Virginia Tech: Hokies need a revival in a hurry

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Since the start of the 2012 season, Virginia Tech has a 24-20 overall record, and although the Hokies haven't endured a losing season in that term, that run is not exactly up to the expectations that Frank Beamer established. It's always hard to peg down exactly what it is responsible for a down-shift like this, but there is at least one obvious answer: quarterback.

The Hokies had two years of the ever-inconsistent Logan Thomas from 2012-13, followed by Michael Brewer's error-prone debut in 2015, and now a setback at the position thanks to injury. Brewer was in the middle of a quality outing against Ohio State before getting hurt, and who knows, maybe he was on the way to a surprise season that would revitalize the Virginia Tech season.

Theoretically, that's still possible, since Brewer could be back under center as soon as Friday night, but it's still hard to shake a sense of disappointment about that situation given Tech's 2-3 start.

VT Offense Off. S&P+ national rank Yds/Play
(national rank)
(national rank)
Yds/Pass Att.
(national rank)
2015 78
5.4 (82) 3.9 (99) 7.9 (36)
2014 85 4.9 (108) 3.6 (103) 6.2 (105)

Brendan Motley has been decent as the replacement to Brewer, with fantastic performances against Furman and Purdue, but does have five interceptions in 111 pass attempts. While he's shown his effectiveness in spots, the Hokies aren't leaning on him heavily--he averages 22 attempts per game, and has gone over 24 passes in a game once.

The ground game managed only nine yards against Pittsburgh last week, and sure that skews the numbers a little, but there's no doubt this aspect of the offense has been a disappointment. Virginia Tech ranks only 86th in rushing S&P+; the Hokies have had success against bad defenses, and for the most part have been unremarkable against everybody else.

VT Defense Def. S&P+ national rank Yds Allowed/Play
(national rank)
Yds Allowed/Rush
(national rank)
Yds Allowed/Pass Att.
(national rank)
2015 55
5.7 (87) 5.1 (109) 6.8 (65)
2014 10 5.2 (33) 3.9 (40) 6.7 (38)

Tech's defense performed well in three of its games--Furman, Purdue, Pitt--but got smacked around pretty soundly by Ohio State and ECU. The Buckeyes averaged over 10 yards per play from scrimmage, while the Pirates were north of 6.5.

Amazingly enough, NC State actually ranks a couple spots ahead of Ohio State in offensive S&P+ (which, as a reminder, is adjusted for strength of schedule). The Wolfpack is a handful of spots below ECU. This suggests State has the quality to put together a good offensive performance against VT, but with last week lingering in the back of my mind, I ain't about to predict one.