Tech Tidbits: Fuente Talks Up A.J. Bush's Athleticism, Steven Peoples' Role in the Offense

The head Hokie thinks his JUCO QB could be the most athletic player on the squad, but what does that mean for the starting QB battle?

Justin Fuente believes A.J. Bush may be the team's most athletic quarterback, or even player in general. [Mark Umansky]

It's Friday, TKPers, and the Hokies trotted out the quarterbacks to the media for the first time in fall camp, so strap in.

Well, maybe don't buckle up too tightly, because Justin Fuente didn't reveal much that we didn't already know about the QB battle, nor did any of the contenders themselves (though I can assume Jack Click's absence was solely due to a class schedule conflict and he remains in the thick of things).

Let's dive in, shall we?

A.J. Bush, Top Athlete on the Squad?

That's just what Fuente suggested about the JUCO transfer in Friday's media availability, calling the former Nebraska prospect the most athletically gifted player in the QB room, and perhaps on the entire team.

Bush is listed at 6'4" and 225 pounds, so the guy doesn't lack for size, but Fuente also was sure to praise his speed. He was quick to note that Hendon Hooker is no slouch either — and the freshman told reporters that he's packed on 20 pounds since enrolling at Tech — but the head Hokie was unequivocal in his praise for Bush.

We are truly getting deep into speculation territory here, considering that Fuente remains adamant that he has no timetable to make any decision on a starter, yet it is still worth mentioning that athleticism does seem to be a necessary attribute for any starter in a Fuente system.

OC Brad Cornelsen and Fuente seemed perfectly content to turn over the bulk of the running duties to Jerod Evans last year, and the offense is certainly predicated on the QB presenting some form of running threat. If his Hokie Sports page is any indication, Bush did plenty of work on the ground in his high school days in Georgia, so it isn't crazy to start connecting dots here.

As I mentioned in the very first Tech Tidbits, it seems foolish to assume that any one of the quarterbacks is out of the mix until Fuente says so, and that definitely goes for Bush (even though he hasn't gotten the same level of hype as Hooker or Josh Jackson thus far).

Bush says he's athletic enough to school his fellow QBs in pickup basketball — though any mention of football players heading to McComas in their spare time gives me Antone Exum flashbacks — and Fuente is more than willing to beat the drum on his behalf.

Mind games, or something meaningful? Still too early to know, though Fuente suggested that a scrimmage later this afternoon should provide the staff some more clarity on where things stand among the top three contenders for the starting spot under center.

Steven Peoples, Running Back?

Fuente says sometime fullback, sometime H-back and full-time Frank Beamer favorite Steven Peoples is "solely working at tailback" in fall camp, which is quite interesting indeed.

Just a few days ago I discussed in this very space my high hopes for Jalen Holston based on Fuente's early comments, and while RBs coach Zohn Burden had some kind words of his own for the freshman Friday, it's a bit eyebrow-raising that Peoples seems to be sticking at running back.

After all, a big part of why I reasoned Holston could be a better fit for the offense than Travon McMillian is his versatility and ability to get involved in the passing attack. While Peoples definitely showed more of a proclivity for the passing game last year than I might've expected — he only had two receptions, one for a 13-yard TD and a 27-yarder — I still thought it more likely that he'd hang around at FB/HB to replace some of what Sam Rogers brought to the table.

Instead, perhaps Fuente sees him as a valuable option to chip in on a more regular basis. That could reduce the team's need to play Holston right away, and it raises some intriguing questions about the future of the H-back spot.

Maybe Chris Cunningham's role expands, after a touchdown-laden first season? Or perhaps promising freshmen Dalton Keene and Drake DeIuliis get in on the action? In case you haven't checked the roster lately, the former is registered at 6'4" and 240 pounds, and the latter is 6'5" and 235 — Ben Hilgart is no joke.

In any case, I'd expect there's plenty more depth chart shuffling left to come at RB, and this is certainly an interesting wrinkle to consider as Sept. 3 gets closer.

A Scheduling Counterargument

I haven't seen quite the same level of online vitriol directed toward Whit Babcock's decision late last month to add more games to Tech's series with Liberty as there was, say, about the seemingly endless series of East Carolina contracts.

But it was awful close, and that's why I think it's worth highlighting this column from the ever-insightful David Teel of the Daily Press.

The whole thing is worth reading, but his central argument is that Babcock is weighing a whole series of factors in his move to set so many future dates against in-state Liberty (and ODU), beyond simply considering how excited fans will be for those particular match-ups.

Not only does Teel expect that locking in these contests now will save Tech millions of dollars, but this point is really worth chewing on:

Tech's non-league dance card is booked through 2030, and in 10 of those seasons it plays at least two Power Five opponents — independents Notre Dame and Brigham Young are included in the calculation. The only ACC rivals that have comparable future schedules are Clemson, Florida State and Georgia Tech, and they have annual games against South Carolina, Florida and Georgia, respectively, built in.

In short, I think it is perfectly reasonable for season ticket holders to register their displeasure with Babcock's scheduling decisions — after all, if the games aren't fun to watch, what are we even doing here?

But Teel adds some necessary context to the debate, particularly when you consider just how much Babcock has worked to hew to Jim Weaver's standard of scheduling marquee nonconference opponents.

I invite you to start your weekend early by imagining just how awkward this scene was:

Happy Friday, Hokies.

Comments

It would be amazing to see Peoples have a breakout year. You have to cheer for those local, Single A guys.

So they didn't mention Jackson at all, makes me think he is in the lead for some reason.

FIRST DOWN, HOKIES!

Well tonight's Snapchat mentioned Jack Click as Jack Vick. Maybe he shocks the world.

Maybe we don't know Jack after all.

If you're reading the above post and thinking, "is this guy serious?!?," you can safely assume I'm not.

Maybe things finally started to Click for him. But then again, I don't know Jack, son. Willis competition ever end??

I hate when the coaches beat around the Bush

I know, they're just Joshin' us. Everyone is in it for the Chase.

Something something Hooker.

Outspoken team cake advocate. Hates terrapins. Resident Macho Man Gif Poster. Distant cousin to Dork Magic. Frequently misspells words.

I still think it's JJ, Keene getting love, peoples too, smells like blockers and heavy runners to complement his short passing and more finesse running style. Though if JJ can catch, how about some wild turkey sets with him as the receiver, Bush and Peoples running an option read, and Keene blocking downfield for a RPO, or triple option set...heck, toss Cunningham doing some blocking or flat release, and throw Cam motioning on the sweep to the opposite side....hundreds of things to do with the ball....goal-line smorgasbord...

“I remember Lee Corso's car didn't get out of the parking lot.” -cFB

Dang new record for most tangents in one comment

Excitement finally boiling over. If I were any good at photo shop, I'd make a hype train gif of the pieces we've got looking good....but there's probably not enough video on them to try it even I were good at it.

“I remember Lee Corso's car didn't get out of the parking lot.” -cFB

Bush is listed at 6'4" and 225 pounds, so the guy doesn't lack for size, but Fuente also was sure to praise his speed. He was quick to note that Hendon Hooker is no slouch either — and the freshman told reporters that he's packed on 20 pounds since enrolling at Tech — but the head Hokie was unequivocal in his praise for Bush.

"Oh."

- Chopped Liver Josh Jackson

You're the only ones that I can talk to about this, you guys.

... after all, if the games aren't fun to watch, what are we even doing here?

The answer to this question is Lot 18.

I found TKP after two rails from TOTS then walking back to my apartment and re-watching the 2012 Sugar Bowl. I woke up the next day with this username.

Has fuente ever rotated qbs or has he always stuck with one once the season has arrived?

I don't believe he ever has, but Andy Dalton was far and away the best QB at TCU eliminating the need for a QB rotation there. When he got to Memphis, he had to completely rebuild their program and wasn't really in "win now" mode, so Paxton Lynch being full-time QB as a freshman made sense. We don't have an Andy Dalton on the roster, and he's not rebuilding our program, so I wouldn't be surprised to see Bush get some playing time, even if Jackson/Hooker is the starter.

Marshall University student.
Virginia Tech fanatic.

Didn't Fuente end this part of the discussion saying the the QB evaluation will continue after the season starts? This seems to imply to me that he is preparing to play more than one.

Sometimes we live no particular way but our own

Coach Fuente's collective comments lead me to believe he is considering starting Bush, but will constantly be evaluating - if Bush doesn't protect the football, Jackson or Hooker go in.

I didn't take that to mean he plans on using a rotation, at least that's not what I hope he meant. I assume it means he reserves the right to change his mind later on in the season if needed.

It could just be lip service to keep everyone pushing themselves instead of feeling relegated, or could be situational substitution like Motely, or reserving the right to change mid season, or even using different QB's to attack different defenses. I'm a little more comfortable with bringing in a change of pace QB for a package of plays, but we will see.

Sometimes we live no particular way but our own

I foresee a two headed monster biting the mountaineers to submission when season starts.

How many QBs will pull a Lawson over the next couple of years?

Where is Lawson?!

So on July 26 these were the lines being listed for the Hokies quarterback battle on bookmaker.eu

Virginia Tech Josh Jackson -140
Hendon Hooker +300
A.J. Bush +350.

Based on Coach Fu's most recent comments these seem out of whack so I thought I'd check the latest lines.

Just checked this site Sunday 3:45pm EST and this is what they have.

Josh Jackson -200
A.J. Bush +430
Hendon Hooker +400

edumacate me BakedTundra, does this mean Vegas is even more convinced JJ will start bc the line went from -100 to -200? I ask seriously bc I must admit I don't fully understand them.

"Everyone has a plan 'till they get punched in the mouth."

You are correct!

you would be correct. When betting on on it. Any negative numbers represents how much money you would have to bet to win $100. So originally you only had to bet $100 to win $100, but in the betting world (at least on bovada) that should have read as an "even/pick'em." Now that it has moved to -200, you would have to bet $200 to win $100, meaning the book keepers believe even more that JJ will be the starter.

Just for shits and giggles, the other way around is read this way.... +430 and +400 (AJ and Hooker) means if you bet $100, then you would win $430 or $400 respectively. The higher the positive number the less likely they/Vegas thinks it will happen.

Bleeding burnt orange and chicago maroon

Actually you need to bet $110 correct? Juice?

Need to bet $110 for what? I was basing my numbers of drbam007's post. if it was truly -140 to begin with (according to BakedAlaskian), then you would need to bet $140 to win $100 at that time.

Bleeding burnt orange and chicago maroon

He was probably referring to the fact that "pick-em" bets are generally -110, meaning bet $110 to win $100.

for spread, yes, usually varies from -105 to -130, but for moneyline bets, its even money

Bleeding burnt orange and chicago maroon

edit: what he said

so the lines right now for the game its VT -5..... It is hard for me to believe VT is going to win by more than 5 points with the FedEx curse, first game of year, RS Frosh/Frosh/JUCO QB under the helm. I am almost tempted to take the points with WVU because all that being said, 5 points is a lot imho

Bleeding burnt orange and chicago maroon

I'm very curious on what happens with the WVU receiver situation, because right now that just looks like an ugly, ugly mismatch in our favor.

Don't let this comment take away from the fact that Arkansas blew a 24 point 2nd half lead in the Belk Bowl.
Don't let the Belk Bowl take away from the fact that Matt Ryan blew a 25 point 2nd half lead in the Super Bowl.

I think Dana has a good enough playbook on offense to move the ball, like a lot of Big 12 teams do but if I had to guess, I do think VT musters a victory by leaning on their defense

Bleeding burnt orange and chicago maroon

I have a small slush fund set aside every September. When it's gone, I'm done for the season. I have no problem betting most of that on us to win by at least 5. We were 1/2 for curse games last year (won at Heinz, lost at Carrier Dome). I think we can put the FedEx curse to bed this year.

Warning: this post occasionally contains strong language (which may be unsuitable for children), unusual humor (which may be unsuitable for adults), and advanced mathematics (which may be unsuitable for liberal-arts majors)..

I am usually the same but if I hit big on a game or weekend, ill start betting more money/game. Every Saturday, I do a parlay for the noon games, 330 games, night games, and then a parlay for throughout the whole day, giving me a couple options to come out even or up..... If there is a can't lose game, then I'll probably bet the house on it

Bleeding burnt orange and chicago maroon

If you put a bet in right now, does it lock in at that line? Or do you end up with the final line?

it locks in the line at the time of betting. There were some games last year where I bet at -6.5 and the line moved to -2.5 by game time. If I'd waited to still bet -6.5 with the game time line, my winnings would have been that much higher.

Honestly, with all the bad news about WVU receivers, I expected the line to shift to more like -9.5

Warning: this post occasionally contains strong language (which may be unsuitable for children), unusual humor (which may be unsuitable for adults), and advanced mathematics (which may be unsuitable for liberal-arts majors)..

can you or somebody enlighten me with all this "Bad news" on their receivers. I have heard some things but not as much as you make it out to be... maybe I haven't seen all of it

Bleeding burnt orange and chicago maroon

Jwillhokiealum put it best

Another blow to the WVU receiving corps. Simms is likely to be suspended. He caught 6 passes for 95 yards and a touchdown last season and is expected to play a big role this season with his speed. If he is suspended and Jovon Durante continues to sit out, WVU will only return two players who made a catch last season at receiver.

Don't let this comment take away from the fact that Arkansas blew a 24 point 2nd half lead in the Belk Bowl.
Don't let the Belk Bowl take away from the fact that Matt Ryan blew a 25 point 2nd half lead in the Super Bowl.

Flashbacks to GT.

Wet stuff on the red stuff.

Join us in the Key Players Club

Some one out there can correct me on this, but didn't Fuente heap praise last year on one (or more) of the quarterbacks not named Jerod Evans before selecting Evans as the starter? I am not sure if the coach is trying to keep everyone sharp to get the most out of the QB competition, or to keep the fan base guessing / interested, or keep the opposing defensive coordinators in the dark for as long as possible.

All the above.

“I remember Lee Corso's car didn't get out of the parking lot.” -cFB

All good points. I was just thinking about what would it take for the wagering types to lay money on A.J. Still as big a long shot? Great athlete with the mature build/physical tools to force D's to key on him as a powerful runner. The payout is certainly improving.

Is Coach Fu trying a misdirection for any of the reasons listed or is he setting the table a bit.

We will see.

I don't think he cares about keeping the fanbase guessing.

1) He wants to keep the three guys competing and feeling that they have a shot at the job
2) All 3 have a shot and are doing well. They are still assessing the guys
3) It probably keeps WVU guessing some, but if you think about it....how much tape is on the 3 guys?

To go on a tangent>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>

How much are we going to miss Ludwig this year? I swear I had heard he left but Hokie Sports does not report it.

Where is Lawson?!

We have that new Aussie punter, Oscar Bradburn.

He is the 3rd punter that Fuente and Shibest have recruited from Prokick Australia Academy in Melbourne. The first one won the Ray Guy award in 2013.

The competition is real intriguing. It seems like each guy has an upside at
this point. Will be interesting how it plays out.

Here's my take on the QB situation. JJ is going to start against WVU. I'm not buying any of this coach speak. More than anything else, Fuente values ball security and good decision making - the two go hand in hand. JJ is the son of a college coach and has two years of playbook experience now - he is as cerebral as it gets for a R-Fr QB. And let's not forget that he's pretty freaking talented too - there was an ESPN recruiting article that came out a few years ago talking about how he was one of the most underrated QB recruits of his cycle with a skillset similar to Mariota's.

All that being said, I bet he is on a short leash for WVU. If he goes out and lays a stinker, I wouldn't be surprised to see AJ start against Delaware.

Edit:

http://www.espn.com/college-sports/football/recruiting/playerrankings/_/...

JJ was a top-10 Dual Threat prospect in his cycle. He's got serious skill.

UPDATE:

I expect to be proved right or wrong within the hour.

Proved right about what? JJ starting or him being on a short leash?

Definitely not neither of those.

I expected to pop in right about now and roll my eyes at this, but then I saw the thread title in the tracker... well done, sir.

Sweet. He's a baller as we knew! What is his weight now?

Where is Lawson?!

About 215 I think.

So our Hooker does not have his Bush under control?
I will see myself out...

I can imagine no more rewarding a career. And any man who may be asked in this century what he did to make his life worthwhile, I think can respond with a good deal of pride and satisfaction:
“I served in the United States Navy"

KCCO

after all, if the games aren't fun to watch, what are we even doing here?

If I had a nickle for every time I asked myself that same question from basically 2005 to 2015, we wouldn't be worried about Hokie Club fundraising anymore. Even in the years where we won a bunch of games, our offense was just a jumbled mess out there most days. I honestly enjoyed the games themselves last year more than I remember 2007 or 2008, and we won the ACC those years. We were just a damn fun team last year, and I am really looking forward to seeing this year's version.

Don't let this comment take away from the fact that Arkansas blew a 24 point 2nd half lead in the Belk Bowl.
Don't let the Belk Bowl take away from the fact that Matt Ryan blew a 25 point 2nd half lead in the Super Bowl.

There was a period in there when Evans and Williams made the offense fun to watch in spite of the system. Member when RMFW dragged a guy 12 yards for a TD? Or Evans vs MD on Thursday night?

Otherwise I agree completely.

VT Class of '12 (MSE), MVBone, Go Hokies!

Coach fuente just announced Josh Jackson is the starting QB.

Wet stuff on the red stuff.

Join us in the Key Players Club

Image result for pacey gifs

"We judge ourselves by our intentions and others by their behavior" Stephen M.R. Covey

“When life knocks you down plan to land on your back, because if you can look up, you can get up, if you fall flat on your face it can kill your spirit” David Wilson

Don't let this comment take away from the fact that Arkansas blew a 24 point 2nd half lead in the Belk Bowl.
Don't let the Belk Bowl take away from the fact that Matt Ryan blew a 25 point 2nd half lead in the Super Bowl.

So now do we switch from threads wondering who will be the starter to threads fighting over why Josh shouldn't be the starter?

Outspoken team cake advocate. Hates terrapins. Resident Macho Man Gif Poster. Distant cousin to Dork Magic. Frequently misspells words.

Click didn't get a chance! We'll be sorry!

Where is Lawson?!

Here's to hoping he gets in in the 4th quarter against WVU!

Hokie fan | W&M grad