A Rivalry Renewed: Virginia Tech and Florida State – How does each team stack up heading into Doak Campbell Stadium on Labor Day?
Those who know me well know that there are few things in this life that I love more than college football – so when Billy Shmurda called me up and asked me to write a preview for the Labor Day match-up between the Virginia Tech Hokies and the Florida State Seminoles, I immediately jumped at the opportunity.
First let me preface this piece of writing with the following disclaimer: this will not be traditional journalism. Not really my style – at all. I’m not out here to compete with any college football beat writers or any mainstream media outlets. You guys keep doing your thing. I’m doing this because I want to, so I hope you’ll come along for the crazy ride that is my point of view.
Anyway, let’s just get right into it. The Virginia Tech and Florida State ‘rivalry’ is a proverbial off and on friendship. It’s been a while since each program has seen that other ‘person’, and the last time they saw each other, in either victory or in defeat, both still left on bad terms.
In the 2000 Nokia Sugar Bowl, the Seminoles kept the Hokies from winning a national championship. That game still haunts the Hokie faithful to this day. In 2010, the Hokies returned the favor in the ACC Championship game. That game doesn’t sting so much for Seminole fans. In sports, statistics are everything. And in the record books, Florida State historically owns Virginia Tech. But don’t rule the Hokies out on Sept. 3 just yet.
New Head Coaches: Both Virginia Tech AND Florida State have made new head coaching hires since Florida State’s last victory over the Hokies in 2012, and both bring a completely new dynamic to each program. Taggart and Fuente both focus primarily on running an up-tempo, high-speed offense. The plays come in short bursts, but are meant to keep the chains moving. Don’t be the least bit surprised if the game becomes a shoot out.
Young Talent (VT): Virginia Tech has had quite the offseason. Bud Foster’s defense lost the likes of nose tackle Tim Settle, cornerback Greg Strowman, safety Terrell Edmunds, linebacker Tremaine Edmunds, and linebacker Andrew Motuapuaka to the NFL Draft. It also lost whip linebacker Mook Reynolds and cornerback Adonis Alexander to off-the-field issues.
On the defensive side of the ball, Virginia Tech will have to fill all of these holes with young talent such as sophomore rover Devon Hunter, sophomore linebacker Dylan Rivers, and freshman linebacker Dax Hollifield.
On the offensive side of the ball, most of the holes for the Hokies come from the loss of standout wide receiver Cam Phillips, guard Wyatt Teller, and running back Travon McMillian. The Hokies will look to fill these gaps with the likes of true freshman wide-out Tre Turner, redshirt sophomore running back DeShawn McClease, and redshirt junior wide-out Eric Kumah.
Young Talent (FSU): Even after the loss of Jimbo Fisher, Florida State will still continue to do just fine in bringing in top-tier talent from all across the country. Willie Taggart might be the new coach on the block, but Fisher still left him an exorbitant amount of talent to work with. One position where the Seminoles are perfectly sound is running back.
Sophomore Cam Akers and freshman Anthony Grant are just as dangerous as former Seminole great Dalvin Cook, and have the potential to carve through the young Virginia Tech defense like butter. With the addition of blue chip tailback Khalan Laborn, the Seminoles could toy with Foster’s defense even further in running back roulette.
Another HUGE advantage the Seminoles will have is the triumphant return of quarterback DeAndre Francois. After tearing his ACL against the Alabama Crimson Tide last September, Taggart hopes that Francois will come back stronger than ever. However, sometimes such injuries can set a football player back light years, which the Hokies could take advantage of.
Florida State is equally inexperienced on the defensive side of the ball. They return only four starters – junior defensive end Brian Burns, junior cornerback Levonta Taylor and senior defensive tackle Demarcus Christmas.
Honestly, this game could go either way. Florida State has the home field advantage, which will create a very difficult winning environment for the Hokies – from the second Justin Fuente and Co. walk off the busses. However, there is no telling how well Coach Taggart will handle his first game at the helm wearing garnet and gold. If his players don’t execute under the new system, this could be an easy win for Virginia Tech.
In the end, love it or hate it, this is what I got: Florida State wins over Virginia Tech, 35-31.