1. Establish the Passing Offense under Braxton Burmeister
The Hokies found themselves in a surprising situation last season as they believed they found the answer in former Oregon quarterback Braxton Burmeister and former Kansas running back Khalil Herbert to be their starters. Burmeister beat out Hendon Hooker for the starting quarterback but the hand injury forced Hooker back into the starting lineup. The Hokies finished the season ranked 43rd in the nation in points per game (31.1) and 10th in rushing yards per game (240).
With Herbert and star offensive tackle Christian Darrisaw gone to the NFL as well as Hooker transferring to the University of Tennessee, Burmeister finds himself as the leader of the Hokies offense once again. A lack of experience from the receiver corp and the instability of the passing offense forced the Hokies to run the ball consistently. Last season, the Hokies were 89th in the nation in passing yards per game (187.9), which was 11th in the ACC.
The good news for the sixth-year offensive coordinator Brad Cornelsen is that five of the top six leaders in receiving yards will return. Burmeister will be able to rely on junior receiver Tayvion Robinson, who caught 38 receptions for 592 yards and three touchdowns, and senior receiver Tre Turner, who caught 34 receptions for 529 yards and three touchdowns, in the deep passing game. Senior tight end James Mitchell, who caught 26 receptions for 435 yards and four touchdowns, will be a reliable playmaker in the short-to-mid-range passing game.
If Burmeister can stay healthy, the Hokies have a much more stable and explosive offense, especially in the passing game. A lot of the Hokies’ success will rely on the stability of the offensive line, who only gave up 22 sacks last season.