The Virginia Tech football offense was shrouded in question marks after the loss of half of their starters this offseason, especially the surprising loss of QB Jerod Evans. That was until three days ago, when Head Coach Justin Fuente named redshirt-freshman quarterback Josh Jackson the starter for the season, marking the first time a freshman has started at that position since Hokie-great Tyrod Taylor. Jackson has been working for this since he first arrived at Tech and immediately earned consideration in the quarterback battle that Jerod Evans eventually won. Jerod eventually left school with a year of eligibility left in order to chase his NFL dream. His loss of production and game experience will definitely be missed, but it ushers in a new era in Virginia Tech football, the Josh Jackson era.
This is the start of a young offense in Blacksburg that has the chance to grow together. The quarterback is new, with four years of eligibility left to play. The tight ends have an exciting new recruit in Dalton Keene, who comes in a true freshman and has already received high praise from Head Coach Justin Fuente. The wide receiving corps got a face-lift, and young players like Phil Patterson and Samuel Denmark are set to step into the hole Isaiah Ford and Bucky Hodges left as primary targets. Even the running back position is getting new faces, with Jalen Holston jumping into the competition against incumbent Travon McMillian.
With all this youth, the offense has a lot of time going forward to develop chemistry. When the team opened up against Liberty University last season, you saw a team that won on talent, but made mental mistakes associated with new teammates and a new system. While the team won week one, the next week against the University of Tennessee, those same mistakes were key in a massive loss on a national stage. It didn’t take long after that to see what the team would look like with better chemistry, as the very next week they blew out Boston College is a 49-0 shutout. Throughout the season they showed that they could perform with the best teams when they were clicking, and even played the eventual National Champions within one score in the ACC Championship game.
Expecting to recreate that level of play out of the offense right off the bat might be a bit much to ask for, but down the road it is entirely possible to see these players develop and run Offensive Coordinator Brad Cornelsen’s offense better than Jerod, Isaiah, and Bucky were able to. Josh Jackson has a lot of talent, and was recruited as a four star dual threat quarterback. Justin Fuente has done a great job of playing to strengths with all of his previous quarterbacks, including players like Andy Dalton and Paxton Lynch. The head coach has a great eye for quarterbacks, and I see nothing but positives coming from the new signal-caller.