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2021 Virginia Tech football season preview

2020 season: 5-6, 5-5 in the ACC (8th in the ACC)

Head coach: Justin Fuente (6th season)

With a disappointing 2020 season which left a sour taste in Hokie fans’ mouths, Virginia Tech looks to improve upon its deficiencies from last year and start a new streak of bowl game appearances. The Hokies' previous streak of 27 seasons with bowl games ended last year when players on the squad voted to end their season prematurely and not consider a potential at-large bid to a bowl game.

The Hokies got off to a decent start in 2020, with Fuente starting redshirt sophomore Braxton Burmeister, a transfer from Oregon, under center. Burmeister was chosen to start because Hendon Hooker, who led Virginia Tech to its 27th consecutive bowl game in 2019, was sidelined with a medical issue during the first two games. Virginia Tech handily won its first game against NC State 45-24. 

After a narrow 38-31 victory against the Blue Devils, the Hokies struggled against No. 8 North Carolina, with Hendon Hooker replacing Burmeister at quarterback. The loss against North Carolina marked the beginning of the end of Virginia Tech’s disappointing season with the Hokies losing five of their next eight games. This stretch included two especially embarrassing losses at unranked Pittsburgh and against No. 3 Clemson. 

Things aren’t looking great this year for the Hokies in terms of personnel either. Virginia Tech lost its star graduate transfer running back Khalil Herbert to the NFL Draft. Hooker, the Hokies’ dual-threat quarterback who threw for 1,339 yards last season, transferred to Tennessee. 

Hooker made the decision to leave in January and left Burmeister as the obvious choice for Fuente to put into the starting lineup. And with many key departures, plenty of pressure will be on Burmeister to be the principal leader during the 2021 campaign. On the defensive side of the football, Virginia Tech gained a new asset in transfer Jordan Williams, a highly-rated defensive tackle from Clemson. 

Consistency and depth will be the name of the game for Virginia Tech this season. Its roster has been depleted considerably, especially in the defensive lineup. And with three freshmen and two sophomores in the top six of the receiving corps, scoring points reliably may become a problem if injuries arise amongst the group. 

Virginia Tech, historically, is not the type of team it was last year. The Hokies will be heading into this season with a chip on their shoulder, determined to do better than they did last year and make it back to a bowl game. Whether their relatively young offense and thin defense hurts them remains to be seen.

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