Game Preview: Virginia Tech opens at Florida State on Monday night

virginia techVirginia Tech is a big road ‘dog in its season opener tonight at Florida State, seven and a half points, at this writing.

Seems that these two are much more even going in.

Lots of questions on both sides, with losses to account for on defense, which can make you think this one will be a high-scoring affair.

Inside FSU

FSU is coming in off an awful 7-6 season in 2017 that ended with coach Jimbo Fisher fleeing the sinking ship for Texas A&M.

Eleven starters return, plus opening-day starting quarterback Deondre Francois, whose injury in the opening loss against Alabama no doubt contributed to the struggles thereafter.

Francois threw for 3,350 yards and 20 touchdowns in his freshman season in 2016.

Willie Taggart, after a single season at Oregon, replaced Fisher. Taggart was 7-5 at Oregon in 2017, and has a 47-50 career record that includes stints at Western Kentucky and South Florida.

Taggart was responsible for a nice turnaround at USF before leaving for Oregon. His first team at South Florida finished 2-10 in 2013, but by 2015, he had the Bulls in a bowl with an 8-5 finish, and his 2016 team finished 10-2.

Inside Virginia Tech

Justin Fuente is beginning his third season at Virginia Tech, where he has turned things around after the swoon at the tail end of the Frank Beamer era.

The Hokies won nine games in 2017 after a 10-win campaign in his first season in 2016, in which the Hokies were back in the ACC title game.

Last year felt like a bit of a step back, though, as Tech was only 1-3 against ranked opponents.

The Hokies have the advantage at QB, with redshirt sophomore Josh Jackson back under center. Jackson threw for 2,991 yards and 20 touchdowns and added six touchdowns on the ground in 2017.

The big question for Fuente and defensive coordinator Bud Foster will be the youth in the back seven defensively. The Hokies will have 14 true freshmen in uniform, including four defensive backs who will be expected to get some time.

Coaching matchup

This will be the fourth coaching matchup between Fuente and Taggart. Fuente won the first three while coaching at Memphis, against Taggart’s USF teams.

Preview by Chris Graham

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