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2016 Schedule Preview: Virginia Tech

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Mark Richt's Hurricanes and Justin Fuente's Hokies will face off in Blacksburg, Va., Thursday, Oct. 20 on ESPN (7:00 p.m. EST)

Steve Mitchell-USA TODAY Sports

Last season, the Hurricanes topped the Hokies 30-20. Brad Kaaya was methodical, picking apart the Hokies secondary (19-30, 296 yards, 2 TDs).

The Hokies were mediocre at best last season, finishing 7-6 (4-4). Former Hokies quarterback, Michael Brewer, led the Hokies last season, but he suffered a collarbone injury, and Brenden Motley stepped in.

Motley, a redshirt senior, returns this season, after a decent 2015 campaign (92-164, 1,155 yards, 11 TD, 7 INT). VT head coach, Justin Fuente, will look to utilize Motley and all the offensive weapons he can. After all, Fuente earned a respectable reputation for his knowledge on the offensive side of the ball.

Although Motley seems to be the starter, there will be competition from JUCO transfer, Jerod Evans. Coming out of Trinity C.C. (Athens, TX). Evans was rated as the top dual-threat quarterback. As a Hurricanes fan, I would be more concerned facing Evans, than Motley. He's a bit more dynamic, and improvises well.

Defensive coordinator, Manny Diaz, will need to focus on Hokie running back, Travon McMillian. The redshirt sophomore finished with just over 1,000 yards last year and seven touchdowns. Junior Isaiah Ford is a true deep threat for the Hokies. Whoever matches up with him will need to follow him stride for stride. The 6-foot-2 receiver snagged 75 passes last seasoned, which totaled for 1,174 yards and 11 touchdowns.

Looking at the offensive line, the Hokies are built up front for the run game. That being said, Miami should look to pressure whoever starts at quarterback, and capitalize on weak pass protection.

On offense, eight starters return, however on the defense there are only six returning starters. Given that the game is in October, the Hurricanes should expect the Hokies new players to be a bit more seasoned by then. There still will be new faces playing for VT, and Mark Richt will look to capitalize on this.

The VT defense was decimated by injuries last season. Despite the injuries, the Hokies did excel at forcing turnovers last season. Defensive tackle Woody Baron and defensive end Ken Ekanem will be the main concerns up front. Last season, current NFL rookie and former Hokie, Kendall Fuller, suffered an injury the opened the door for some freshmen to play . It didn't work out so well in 2015, but look for the secondary to slightly improve this season.

Last season, Adonis Alexander, led the Hokies with four interceptions. This season, Alexander finds himself in hot water, after receiving a sentence of a 12 month probation for Marijuana possession. Alexander has been suspended indefinitely. However, the Miami game is the seventh game on VT's schedule, so Alexander should be on the field.

Special teams players will need to contain Greg Stromanwho is an elusive return man.

Final Outcome: Miami 35, VT 17

Hokie faithful are looking forward to new coach Justin Fuente's offensive capabilities. However, an inexperienced defense will be the downfall for Virginia Tech. A somewhat inexperienced core of Linebackers, and defensive backs will only benefit Brad Kaaya.

He should pick apart the Hokies, mirroring his stats from last year's showdown, or possibly even putting up better numbers.

The Virginia Tech game falls in the middle of a string of tough match ups for the Canes, but this one should be an easy victory. Miami should be able to take the momentum from this win, head to South Bend, and beat the heck out of Notre Dame.