HokieHaven.com will be catching up with the beat writers from each of Virginia Tech's opposing teams' Rivals.com network sites. For teams without a Rivals site, we'll be speaking with the team's daily newspaper. Third in our series, we look at the Hokies' fourth game of the season, Sept. 22 vs. Bowling Green, with Sentinel-Tribune sports editor Jack Carle.
1. Which loss, player or coach, from last season will be the toughest for Bowling Green to replace?
Carle: I'm gonna have to say it was wide receiver Kamar Jordan. He was a standout receiver for two years, a junior college kid.
Last year, he had 78 catches for 1,089 yards and 12 touchdowns. So he was the main target all year long. Teams knew that and he was stable to actually produce pretty well.
2. Which newcomers should make the biggest impact?
Carle: That was the biggest question going into spring and I don't think it got answered there.
The receiver with the most experience is a kid named Shaun Joplin. He's a very good athlete, still learning how to be a football player though if that makes sense.
He had 21 catches in 12 games last year. Then there's another young man, Je'ron Stokes, who is a transfer from Michigan and will be eligible this year. They're looking at him to offset the loss of Jordan a little bit and be one of the top two receivers.
Stokes will be one at wide receiver. I think placekicking has been a problem. There's a kid named Tyler Tate, he redshirted last year and he'll be getting a chance to be the placekicker as well as an incoming freshman.
That's a big need there. They have a kid returning but his longest field goal has been 39 yards in his career. They definitely need someone with a big leg. Anthony Farinella is the one coming back. The other kid they're looking at who they hope can play right away and be a difference-maker is a junior college kid, from the College of DePage, a safety, Josh Pettus. Those four guys, one of the two kickers, really stand out in my mind.
3. What, if anything, will change in playcalling, schemes, etc. this season?
Carle: I don't really think they'll be that much. They have their quarterback, Pat Schilz, who's back. He'll be in his third year. They have some running backs with experience.
Anton Samuel was the freshman of the year in the MAC last year, played in nine games before he got hurt. He should be back and there's some veterans on the line, so I don't think anything is gonna change that much.
Nobody on the offensive side on the coaching staff changed and I don't think their philosophies or strategies changed either. Defensively, it's kinda the same thing too. They didn't really change anything with the coaches.
They just kinda split the way they're coaching outside linebackers, cornerbacks and safeties. But the coaches are the same and they've got nine or ten starters back on defense. They just need them to get better because they gave up right around 28 points per game last year. Even though they're coming back, they need some work done.
4. Were there any surprises this spring and do you anticipate any more?
Carle: I think the spring went pretty much as expected. I don't think anyone really jumped out at them. That's a question I asked at the MAC Media Days in Detroit.
At the end of spring, I don't remember anyone who coach thought jumped out and attracted their attention.
5. What are realistic expectations for Bowling Green this season?
Carle: They have Virginia Tech and Florida and that's two of their four non-league games, both on the road. I think the two non-league home games, against Idaho and Rhode Island, are winnable. This will be Coach Dave Clawson's fourth year and I think they're expecting to do well.
If I had to put a number on it, I'd say they're looking at 6-2 in the league. The month is September is their four non-league games, but the game with their arch-rival is the third game of the season, against Toledo.
They go to Florida, play home to Idaho, at Toledo and then Virginia Tech and homecoming against Rhode Island. The game with Toledo will be a big early-season test. With Schilz being in his third year, they should be able to solve their wide receiver question and the defense will get better.
I don't think the MAC east is as strong as the west. Ohio, Miami (OH) and Bowling Green are the three best teams in the east and Bowling Green can be competitive with them. They don't have to play Northern Illinois, which is a good team in the west. It's definitely doable.
Note: Not including Rivals' premium sites, do not copy/paste and or repost this column outside of Rivals.com, particularly on message boards, chat rooms and e-mails, as it is a direct violation of copyright laws. Thank you.