How the Virginia Tech Hokies inexperience makes them dangerous in 2020

Follow me

Joe Broback

Contributor at Champion Insiders
Joe is a writer covering the NFL, NBA, NHL and college football. He also currently writes for SB Nation’s Underdog Dynasty, covering the American Athletic Conference since 2016. Joe enjoys collecting shoes, playing sports, and anything fitness related.
Joe Broback
Follow me

Some fans were looking ahead for the next coach. Justin Fuente wasn’t getting it done. Decreasing win totals in his three years meant he’d be fired, and the Hokies bowl streak was over. Fuente inherited the weight of replacing a legend, and an unlikely group brought the Virginia Tech Hokies back. This group also makes them a dangerous team in 2020, but that shouldn’t be a surprise.

Virginia Tech youth inspires success

We knew the Hokies returned few experienced leaders, but new faces kept popping up on the two-deep depth chart quicker than expected. After a disappointing 2-2 start, Fuente decided it was time to look towards the future. What he didn’t know was how inexperience would handle these new situations. He found out quickly.

Starting with the quarterback, Fuente made a change from a senior to underclassmen. Freshman Quincy Patterson and sophomore Hendon Hooker took over when Ryan Willis couldn’t get the job done. Since the change, the Hokies went 6-2 and keep the bowl streak alive when they face Kentucky in the Belk Bowl on New Year’s Eve. Fuente’s known for his development of quarterbacks, as was evident with his work with Paxton Lynch and Riley Ferguson at Memphis, but now he’s doing it on a bigger stage.

Both Hooker and Patterson utilized their arms and their legs to lead the offense, but they weren’t the only young players to step up into big roles. Four of the Hokies top five rushers are sophomores or freshman. Three of their top four receivers are also underclassmen. The Hokies won’t lose a ton of talent next year, and that’s huge in a conference where only one team dominates.

A 2020 contender?

Virginia Tech’s so young that they can return 21 of their 22 starters next year, and many of the backups would return a plethora of game experience as well. A win on Tuesday would give the Hokies their third nine win season under Fuente, and would put Virginia Tech on the radar in the ACC. In a conference that’s fairly open, the Hokies could insert themselves into the title conversation. They just have to go through one elite team.

Clemson’s dominated the ACC for years now. The Tigers find themselves in the National Championship Game this year after winning it last year, and they haven’t seen much competition in their own conference. That’s all Virginia Tech an Justin Fuente have to beat. Sounds easy, right? For the Hokies coach, it’s just another challenge that he faces head-on.

When Fuente got to Memphis, the Tigers won just five games in the previous three seasons. In his four years in Memphis, he won 26. Virginia Tech hired him to take over for Frank Beamer, and reestablish some stability. In Beamer’s last four seasons, the Hokies won 29 games. Fuente’s won 33 in his first four, which is a level of success Hokies fans are more accustomed to witnessing.

If Fuente can do this with a team that was so inexperienced and made so many changes, imagine what they’ll do next year. There aren’t guarantees in college football, but the Hokies are proving they’re a team to keep an eye on when 2020 begins. If that happens, the program will worry more about keeping their head coach more than anything. For now, ending the 2019 season with their ninth win becomes the focus. After that, consider this a warning.

  • 3
  •  
  •  
  •  
  •  
  •  
  •  
  •