Inside HOKIE SPORTS | Vol. 11 No. 1 | August 2018

Virginia Tech last won an ACC title in 2010, but the Hokies appear to be trending in the right direction, as they played for the league crown two seasons ago and have won 19 games in Justin Fuente’s first two years at helm. For Tech to bring the league’s top trophy home this season, it needs to take care of business right from the start. The Hokies open the season at Florida State on Labor Day night, and then after three non- conference games, play at an improved Duke squad and Notre Dame. Tech’s roster features talent, but lacks experience, with only nine seniors. Still, the expectations are always going to be high in Blacksburg, and with that said, here is a preseason look at the 2018 Virginia Tech squad: Top Five Storylines Can a young defense continue the “Lunch Pail” tradition of dominance? The Hokies head into this season looking to replace seven starters on a defense that ranked in the top 15 nationally in scoring defense, rushing defense and total defense in 2017. Four of those seven starters were drafted by NFL teams (Tremaine Edmunds, Terrell Edmunds, Tim Settle and Greg Stroman). But Ricky Walker and Vinny Mihota, the lone senior starters, return and represent a strong foundation, and the Hokies feature the nation’s best defensive coordinator in Bud Foster. Who will emerge at the cornerback spots? Stroman, Brandon Facyson and Adonis Alexander are gone and junior- college transfer Jeremy Webb is out for the season (injury), so sorting out the cornerback positions probably serves as Foster’s top priority. Bryce Watts possesses the speed and the potential to be the next great Tech defensive back, and Jovonn Quillen has played in 22 games over the past two seasons (mostly on special teams). Expect a freshman or two to get early playing time. Caleb Farley, perhaps? Season Preview An outlook on the Hokies’ chances as they enter year three of the Justin Fuente era by Jimmy Robertson 2 18 1 2 3 5 4 What can fans expect from the quarterback position? Tech’s staff makes every position a competition to get the best out of everyone, and Ryan Willis certainly opened some eyes with his spring game performance. But Josh Jackson played well as a redshirt freshman, throwing for nearly 3,000 yards and 20 touchdowns, with just nine interceptions. He spent the offseason working on his release and accuracy. If he retains the job and gets a little more help from the personnel around him, he could have a big season. Who replaces Cam Phillips? Speaking of the personnel around Jackson, Tech’s staff needs to find a receiver or receivers to replace Cam Phillips, the Hokies’ all-time leader in career receptions and career receiving yardage. Unfortunately, some of those receivers (Eric Kumah, Damon Hazelton) missed spring practice with injuries. The Hokies have a lot of intriguing pieces, though, in Hezekiah Grimsley, Phil Patterson and Sean Savoy. If they all develop—and stay healthy—this could be a position of strength as the season goes along. How do the Hokies replace Joey Slye? With another kicker, of course, but the question is which one? Slye, a four-year starter, made 15 field goals a year ago, but more importantly, 53 of his 63 kickoffs went for touchbacks, giving Tech a leg up on field position. Brian Johnson made three field goals late last season while Slye sat out with a hamstring injury, but keep an eye on redshirt freshman Jordan Stout, who possesses the stronger leg. The competition probably will go right up until the season opener. Vinny Mihota 18 Inside Hokie Sports