Opponent: Virginia Tech Hokies
Time: November 22nd, TBD
Location: BB&T Field, Winston-Salem, N.C.
Head Coach: Frank Beamer (224-109-2)
Series History: Virginia Tech holds a definitive 24-11-1 series edge over Wake Forest. The Hokies are riding a five-game winning steak over the Deacons dating back to 1984. The Hokies' largest margin of victory came back in the very first game of the series in 1916, when they blanked the Deacons 52-0. Wake Forest's biggest win was a 28-9 victory in 1970.
2013 Record: 8-5 (lost in the Sun Bowl 42-17 to UCLA)
Frank Beamer has led the Hokies to 21 consecutive bowl games and with a weak schedule this year, a 22nd appearance is likely. A superb defense kept the Hokies competitive in 2013, but an inconsistent offense prevented them from contending for an ACC title.
That same offense managed to score just 22.5 points per game last season, better than only in-state foe Virginia and our very own Demon Deacons in the ACC. Tech's 356 yards per game were ranked 103rd in the nation out 124 qualifiers (this was second-worst in the ACC with the Deacs again being dead last).
Logan Thomas, after another underwhelming season, is off the NFL, leaving a quintet of 3-star quarterbacks to compete for the starting job. Assuming the two freshmen don't have much of shot, it will be a three-way battle between senior Mark Leal (last year's No. 2), junior transfer Michael Brewer (formerly of Texas Tech) or sophomore Brendan Motley. Motley ran with the first team in the spring and would seem to have an edge over Leal, but at this point the starting job is up for grabs.
Whoever emerges from the battle should have a decent supporting cast around him. Sophomore running back Trey Edmunds found the endzone 10 times as a freshman, but barely averaged four yards a carry on 166 attempts. If he takes an expected jump forward, the running game could be solid.
Perhaps the brightest spot on the offensive side of the ball is a group of three receivers that could form one of the stronger corps in the conference. Senior Willie Byrn, junior Demitri Knowles and sophomore Joshua Stanford all hauled in at least 40 catches and 640 receiving yards. Byrn in particular saw 82 targets and collected 51 catches, all the more impressive when you consider that Thomas completed under 57 percent of his passes. Considering that the Demon Deacons' secondary will be one of the team's strongest units, it should be interesting to see how our cornerbacks handle this group of wideouts.
The offensive line brings back four starters from 2013, with right guard Andrew Miller as the only one not returning. All four are also seniors, so experience will be a positive factor as well. Not surprisingly, the direction this offense takes will depend on whomever Beamer chooses as the No. 1 quarterback. That being said, it could be a vastly different offense from the one led last year by Logan Thomas.
At this point a Virginia Tech institution, Frank Beamer returns to Blacksburg for his 28th season at the helm. Virginia Tech hasn't missed a bowl game since 1992 (Beamer took over in 1987). He's collected four ACC titles, three in the Big East and even led the Hokies to an appearance in the national championship game in 1999.
But his program has lost a step after narrowly losing to Michigan in the 2012 Sugar Bowl. The past two seasons Beamer's squad has gone just 15-11 and 9-7 in the ACC. At 67-years-old (68 in October), the longest tenured coach in college football is likely running out of time to once again turn Virginia Tech into a contender.
Luckily for him, the Hokies only play one true top-25 team the entire season, when they travel to Columbus for a likely beat down courtesy of the Ohio State Buckeyes. After that they face a few decent teams like Miami, Pittsburgh and North Carolina, before the schedule strength drops off considerably.
Scot Loeffler will return for a second season as offensive coordinator under Beamer. He's bounced around quite a bit in his career, making stops at Auburn, Temple and Florida. He spent the 2008 season as the quarterbacks coach for the Detroit Lions. In case you don't remember, that was the year the Lions did not win a single game.
On the other side of the ball, there is a much different story. Bud Foster arrived in Blacksburg with Frank Beamer, and after 28 years has established himself as one of the nation's premier assistants. He took over as defensive coordinator in 1995 and previously coached with Beamer at Murray State before the two made the jump to Virginia Tech.
Check back later this week for previews of Virginia Tech's defense and special teams.