Virginia Tech Hokies — 2016 Syracuse Football preview

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Syracuse will play Virginia Tech on Oct. 15

As we countdown to kickoff in September, we’re going to be doing a team-by-team preview each week over the summer. SU will continue its 2016 ACC schedule when it plays Virginia Tech on Oct. 15.

BEAMER BALL OVER: New Virginia Tech Justin Fuente is replacing a legend at Virginia Tech. From 1987 to 2015, Frank Beamer compiled 280 wins and retired as the winningest active coach at the FBS level. But there’s no doubt that the Hokies needed an injection of new blood after the team had stagnated over the last few seasons. Virginia Tech had not won more than eight games since the 2012 season, and started off 3-5 last season before winning four of its last five to close the Beamer Ball era. Fuente will tweak things a bit, installing an up-tempo, spread offense that helped him win 19 games in his last two seasons at Memphis.

» Related: Wake Forest Demon Deacons — 2016 Syracuse Football preview

WHO TO WATCH FOR: Fifth-year senior quarterback Brenden Motley took the reigns as the starter after Michael Brewer was injured in the first game against Ohio State. He was more than up to the task, throwing for 1,155 yards and 11 touchdowns (with three more TDs on the ground) in his six starts. But Motley will face stiff competition from JUCO transfer Jerod Evans. Evans was initially recruited by Fuente at Memphis, and is considered a better fit for the spread offense, and it remains to be seen who will start. Regardless of who starts, he will be handing the ball off to redshirt sophomore Travon McMillian, who rushed for 1043 yards and seven touchdowns despite only starting seven games. He was named an All-ACC Honorable Mention by the coaches.

PREDICTION: Virginia Tech’s staple in its success has always been on the defensive side of the ball, and Fuente kept continuity by retaining long-time defensive coordinator Bud Foster. It may take a little time to get used to the spread offense, but Virginia Tech has taken a large step toward returning to prominence. VIRGINIA TECH 31, SYRACUSE 21.

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Wes Cheng

About Wes Cheng

Wes has worked for Rivals.com covering the New York Knicks, as well as for Scout.com covering Syracuse athletics. Wes has also worked for the South China Morning Post (Hong Kong) and reported on the NBA and MLB for the New York Sportscene. A native of Long Island, New York, Wes graduated from Syracuse University in 2005. Follow him on Twitter @ChengWes.
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