With players declaring for the NFL left and right, it’s a good time to begin looking at who FSU’s opponents have lost, who they are bringing back. We’ll start with Virginia Tech, as FSU opens with the Hokies on Labor Day night in Tallahassee.
Starters lost: 10 (6 on defense, 4 on offense)
That’s roughly half of the starters for the Hokies. Three are early entries on defense.
The Hokies are losing 53 percent of their run stuffs, 52 percent of total tackles, and 32 of 46 pass breakups.
An inexperienced back 7
Virginia Tech likes to play a lot of aggressive coverages on defense, but the Hokies lost both starting corners, a starting safety, two starting linebackers, and all three backup linebackers. You can bet FSU will be looking to challenge those replacements in space. Linebacker Tremaine Edmunds may have been the best in the ACC, a freakish 6’5, 250-pounder with 84 tackles and 24 run stuffs.
A strong front 4
Looking at this depth chart, I wonder if the Hokies won’t be more conservative on defense, because despite losing DT Tim Settle to the draft early, the front should be able to get pressure on the QB, as 7 of 8 return.
Experience at the skill positions
Virginia Tech does lose receiver Cam Phillips, who had more receiving yards than the next three receivers combined, but pretty much every other receiver to catch a pass returns, as does every player to notch a carry. QB Josh Jackson should improve with another year under Justin Fuente.
Three OL starters must be replaced
While Teller, Gallo, and Chung are not hyped as surefire NFL stars like some of the defensive losses, they still must be replaced.
Take the over?
Virginia Tech’s offense is likely to be a lot better in 2018 than it was in 2017, a year in which their QB shockingly turned pro. But the defense will probably take a step back. The same will likely be true from a personnel perspective for FSU’s roster.