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2020 Record: 5-6
All-time series: 10-8 Syracuse
Last Meeting: 10/15/16, 31-17 Syracuse
What to Know About the Hokies:
It’s not often that Syracuse and Virginia Tech face off on the gridiron, just 18 times since 1964. Neither of these programs have met expectations as of late. With plenty of hot seat conversation flooding the media regarding HC Justin Fuente, 2021 is undoubtedly a pivotal year for the 6th year coach. The Hokies lost some talent to the NFL draft and as a result, have some question marks. DB Caleb Farley, OL Christian Darrisaw, DB Divine Deablo, and RB Khalil Herbert are all off to bigger and better things. Though there are some things to be on the lookout for, most notably the first full season of Oregon-transfer Braxton Burmeister at the QB position.
Head Coach – Justin Fuente, 6th year, 38-26 at Virginia Tech
On what Braxton Burmeister means to the running game without Khalil Herbert: “It will be difficult to replace Khalil, he was the source of so many big plays. In regard to Braxton, Braxton is – he’ll probably get mad at me for saying this – he’s probably in the top 3 or 4 athletes on the entire team, he’d say 1 or 2. He’s got a chance to be really explosive. I don’t know if Braxton will be the answer to the production we lost at the tailback position. We’re going to have to have Jalen Holston and Raheem Blackshear and the rest of the young talent contribute as well.”
On how the job has changed over his tenure: “It’s certainly been interesting, each job is different. After our first two years I had a very honest and a really good conversation with our Athletic Director….’[I said] you didn’t bring me here for these past two years, you brought me here for what we’re about to go through.’ Because I knew we were not in good shape….now it’s starting to be an older team….I’m really excited to see this football team play.”
Braxton Burmeister – Redshirt Junior, QB
2020: 2 TDs, 687 yds, 56.5%
On becoming a leader this season: “This offseason really helped with that whole process. Through having spring ball and being around my guys every single day I think I’ve really evolved as a leader and learned how to communicate better and just kind of take ownership of the whole offense. I think the guys around me see that and are giving me that opportunity to do so.”
On the differences and similarities between west coast and east coast football: “West coast football is more speed based, east coast football has definitely been more physical.
On how the offense will be different this year: “We have all of our receivers back and that’s huge. James Mitchell is a big target that can flex as a receiver/tight end, blocks really well and Tayvion Robsinson and Tré Turner also have played a ton of football, they get open, and do a great job separating, really makes my job easy. I think that will help our offense out and set up the run game as well.”
James Mitchell – Junior, TE
2020: 26 rec, 435 yds, 5 TDs
On what he did to get better in the offseason: “I added a lot of weight to my frame, just since the end of last season I’ve gained about 8-10 pounds, I’m running well and I’m strongest as I’ve ever been. That was a huge part of me coming back, continuing to get stronger because I’m down there in the trenches. Also working on my routes, I try to do a lot of things for my offense so being able to go out there and run routes against DBs and safeties is also something I’m focused on.
On the offense under Braxton: “He’s definitely a confident player. When he steps in the huddle he’s calm and collected, he knows how to get guys behind him. He’s really stepped up his communication. I thought we played really well at the end of the season with him at quarterback.”
Chamarri Conner – Junior, DB
2020: 81 Tot Tackles, 4 PDs, 1 INTs
On the state of the Hokies 2021 secondary: “I’m very excited for our secondary. We got a lot of guys back, a lot of guys who got a lot of experience over the last year. We’ve got a lot of guys moving around and much more depth. We have a lot of depth at safety.