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Hokie Hopes In 2021 May Once Again Rest On QB Position

To be honest, I'm worried about Virginia Tech’s quarterback position heading into the 2021 season.

Justin Fuente, however, does not share the same concern.

“I feel better about us throwing the ball right now since I’ve been here,” Fuente said at ACC Kickoff last week. “That doesn’t mean we’re going to throw the ball 60 times a game. I feel better about it.”

It is important to note that Fuente excluded his 2016 team from that assessment. Still, while I appreciate Fuente’s confidence in Braxton Burmeister, I am curious as to where the confidence in the team’s starting quarterback comes from.

It could be from Burmeister’s end of the 2020 season, which was a marked improvement from his previous track record. In limited snaps, Burmeister completed 10-of-12 throws vs. Clemson for 127 yards, and the following week, Burmeister went 15-of-22 for 212 yards and a touchdown.

Or it could be from the cadre of weapons surrounding Burmeister in the passing game. While none of Virginia Tech’s pass catchers could be considered among the nation’s best, there are potent weapons in the war chest. Tre Turner returns as the No. 1 receiver alongside slot receiver Tayvion Robinson, while tight end James Mitchell represents Tech’s best chance at another high draft pick in next year’s NFL Draft.

Again, I appreciate the confidence, but it may not be all that justified. At least yet.

Start with Burmeister, who still owns a negative touchdown-to-interception ratio in his career. He only completed 56.5 percent of his throws last season and in six games, threw for just two touchdowns.

He’s much better as a runner than a thrower, which clearly fits the well-established scheme Fuente and Brad Cornelsen enjoy running, using the quarterback as a key workhorse in the rushing attack. A large part of the overall concern comes from those quarterbacks behind Burmeister, who will be tested this season if history does indeed repeat itself when it comes to quarterback durability in Blacksburg.

My assessment of Virginia Tech’s passing attack is this: the starting quarterback does not have an established track record of production due to limited playing time, and his backups have little to zero experience; the receiving corps has talent but may lack an elite threat that has shown the ability to take over games.

Depending on how well Virginia Tech runs the football and if the defense can improve, then my guess is the Hokies’ passing game won’t need to have as much of an impact, and can learn and grow as the season continues. But with Khalil Herbert and Christian Darrisaw playing in the NFL, and a wide array of questions on defense, I worry that Tech’s ability to move the ball through the air immediately will be a deciding factor as to whether or not the Hokies can win games.

There’s reason to believe the Hokies’ passing game can improve. But with limited data to judge from, it's hard to really tell.

I'm concerned. Fuente believes in his team regardless.

Only time will tell as to which of our opinions is hasty...or omniscient.


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Sunday, 29 January 2023

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