Virginia Tech is biggest threat to Georgia Tech in ACC Coastal


The Georgia Tech Yellow Jackets are the favorite to win the ACC Coastal, but the Virginia Tech Hokies pose the biggest threat to their repeat bid.

The Georgia Tech Yellow Jackets are clear-cut favorites to win the Coastal and are the highest ranked team in the division at No. 16 in preseason AP top 25 poll. Dual-threat quarterback Justin Thomas is returning and is coming off a breakthrough season that saw him win the MVP in the Orange Bowl.

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Thomas was the team’s biggest weapon, throwing for 1,850 yards, 19 touchdowns and eight interceptions in 2014. Not only did he dominate in the passing game, but he rushed for 1,086 yards and eight touchdowns. Defenses were left guessing on every play, as Thomas took advantage of his abilities and led the Yellow Jackets to an 11-3 record including a 49-34 win over No. 7 Mississippi State in the Orange Bowl.

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With Thomas poised for an even better year, Georgia Tech remains favorites for the Coastal; but with other teams improving while Georgia Tech works towards recuperating their damaged receiving unit and backfield, can a team dethrone the Yellow Jackets in 2015?

The answer is yes.

The losses are pretty large and could cause the team to stumble early on in the season. The division will be a tight race and one mistake could be very well be another’s fortune. There are multiple teams that have a chance at walking away with the Coastal crown, but the top team that will give Georgia Tech a run for their money is Virginia Tech.

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The Hokies may not have the offense or quarterback to match Georgia Tech, but their defense remains uncontested. Led by All-American Kendall Fuller, Virginia Tech’s secondary is potentially dominant with a shutdown corner taking away half the field. They do have some holes that will need to be filled, but if Brandon Facyson can return and remain healthy, the team will be able to stop the deep ball.

Even with Fuller in the Virginia Tech secondary, it is the team’s defensive line that is a huge threat to opposing quarterbacks. Quick and able to get to the quarterback, VT’s main source of sack production came from defensive ends Ken Ekanem and Dadi Nicolas, who totaled 9.5 and 9.0 sacks respectively. Nose tackle Corey Marshall returns, posting 2.5 sacks and 9.5 tackles for a loss in 2014.

The defensive line will be Virginia Tech’s biggest asset. However, their offense remains the biggest question. The playmakers return including quarterback Michael Brewer. Brewer finished with a 59.4 percent completion rate, 2,692 yards, and 18 touchdowns.

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He did have problems with accuracy at times, throwing 15 interceptions. However, 10 of the 15 occurred in the first five games, showing that Brewer improved and fixed his early season woes.

Senior running back J.C. Coleman will also return for his final season. Coleman was a reliable option in the run game, rushing for 533 yards on 107 carries.

What separates Virginia Tech from teams like North Carolina and Duke is the constant pressure the defensive line places on opposing quarterbacks. Even with Marquise Williams and two very solid running back prospects in T.J. Logan and Elijah Hood, UNC is far too inconsistent to contend for the divisional crown in 2015.

Duke has a solid offense as well and have turned their division around, but their defensive line and linebackers need work. Putting pressure on quarterbacks are key and even with a solid and reliable secondary, no pressure will give opposing quarterbacks too much time in the pocket.

The Hokies’ 2014 squad remains similar in the upcoming, which, if the team improves and remain top competitors (as seen in their win over eventual NCAA Champs Ohio State), will be Georgia Tech’s top contender for the Coastal crown.

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