Michael Brewer had an up and down season for the Hokies in 2014. He got off to a hot start by helping beat Ohio State on the road, but he took a ton of hits, and the interceptions began to pile up in the month of September.
By the end of the month, Brewer had already thrown nine interceptions. He settled down and threw just six for the remainder of the season, but he was never truly comfortable because he had spent so little time in the offense, and because his receivers were so young.
“The receivers and I have to be on the same page,” Brewer said. “If they are supposed to run a 12 yard route, they have to be at 12 and not 10, otherwise it messes the whole spacing of the play up, and the timing. Everything ties together. With so many young guys last year, and me being in my first year in the offense, it seemed like there was constant hiccups on each play.”
Those hiccups were part of the reason the Hokies struggled offensively for the third season in a row. Tech averaged just 365.3 yards per game, and the ultimate low was scoring no points in regulation at Wake Forest.
Brewer thinks his own added experience, as well as the receivers being a year older, will mean a much-improved offense.
“Everybody understands the offense more, and understands how to attack certain defenses in certain ways,” Tech’s second year starter said. “I think the fans will see vast improvement in the production, moving the football, and decreasing turnovers.”
Frank Beamer’s chief concern is not Brewer. Rather, it’s whether or not the pieces around Brewer continue to grow and improve as football players.
“I think he’s tremendously [improved],” Beamer said. “I said this a million times. I don’t worry about Michael. I worry about the people around Michael. If those people uphold the end of their deal, Michael will be just fine.”
Brewer now has talented, experienced receivers in Isaiah Ford and Cam Phillips. Though they are still only true sophomores, they got a lot of experience on the field last season. Bucky Hodges is a gifted r-sophomore who can be used in a variety of ways.
Still, he needs more weapons besides those three guys and Ryan Malleck. From what he told the media on Monday, the battle for the #3 wide receiver spot is still up in the air.
“Demitri Knowles, Kevin Asante and Deon Newsome, they’re all pretty even right now,” Brewer said. “One of those guys is gonna need to step up and be the solid third guy. They’ve shown some improvement, but we’re still not closed out on a for sure #3 yet.”
Tech can get by with what they have now, but an injury to Ford or Phillips could be disastrous if one of the backups doesn’t step up.
Staying healthy is also key at the quarterback position.. While Brewer played tough last year at Ohio State, he took such a beating in that game, and in subsequent games, that he wasn’t able to play at 100% the rest of the season. Though he never admitted to being hurt last year, he has acknowledged that fact during the preseason.
“I gotta stay healthy after this game, unlike last game,” Brewer said. “I gotta stay upright. I think that will happen with the knowledge that I’ve obtained in the offseason with the protections. I feel better about the chances of me staying up. I can change the protection up and take the hit off of myself, or I can check down.”
Tech fans, and Brewer, hope that turns out to be the case.
“I’m looking forward to a different outcome this year and staying healthy each week and being productive.”