2014 ACC Wish Lists: Virginia Tech And Georgia Tech
By Matt Phifer
Virginia Tech and Georgia Tech both had opportunities to win the ACC's Coastal Division in 2013, but came up short. Now both need to replace some key positions in order to give themselves a chance in 2014.
Virginia Tech must replace three-year starting quarterback Logan Thomas. Thomas is the all-time career leader in passing yards, touchdown passes and total offense at Virginia Tech, but he was inconsistent. In some games, such as this past year's matchup with Miami, Thomas lit up opposing defenses, while throwing for less than 100 yards in other games. Frank Beamer seemed to indicate rising senior Mark Leal will be under center for the Hokies in 2014 and Virginia Tech fans will want to see more consistency from him throwing the football.
Virginia Tech will also want to see improvement on the offensive line. The Hokies only averaged 3.2 yards per rush in 2013, the lowest since 2006. Historically a running team, an inability to run the football will only put more pressure on the quarterback. Virginia Tech has hired a new offensive line coach in Stacy Searels to try to turn around the Hokies luck in the trenches.
Georgia Tech also must replace a quarterback in Vad Lee, who announced that he will transfer. This job will most likely fall on Justin Thomas, who saw some playing time in 2013. Lee's departure, when combined with David Sims and Robert Godhigh's exits, also means the Yellow Jackets will be losing their top three rushers from 2013. Thankfully for Georgia Tech, Paul Johnson's style of offense means that lots of players get a chance to touch the football. Look for rising senior Zach Laskey to be a leading rusher for Georgia Tech in 2014. It is important to mention that Justin Thomas also rushed for more than 240 yards for the Yellow Jackets in 2013.
Georgia Tech will also need to replace three starters on the defensive line including both defensive ends, which could be rough for what was a streaky group in 2013. The Yellow Jackets' D held opponents they beat to an average of 10.9 points per game, but were gutted for an average of 37 points per game in their losses.
Finally, Georgia Tech needs to avoid what has become an all-too-common three-game losing streak. The Yellow Jackets have had three-game losing streaks three of the last four seasons (2010, 2012, 2013). With all six Coastal Division games coming in a row in 2014, a losing streak can quickly end their chances for a trip to the ACC Championship Game.
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