The cliche with any bye week is that it couldn't possibly have come at a better time for the team in question, but for the Hokies, there sure do seem to be plenty of advantages for a week off right about now.
We'll get to where Tech stands on the injury front now that the front half of the season is in the books, but consider what the schedule looks like after the bye. The Hokies are 1-1 in the ACC, and post-bye, they'll be at home for UNC, ditto for Duke, on the road for Miami and Georgia Tech in back-to-back weeks, then will close things out with Pitt at home and Virginia on the road.
That schedule is far from a murderer's row, but still pretty trying in some stretches (albeit perhaps in different ways than we might've expected coming into the year — who could've guessed that the Virginia game in Charlottesville could suddenly be a big one?)
So, not to belabor the point, but bye weeks always seem to come in handy, and the Hokies seem to have plenty to prepare for on this one.
Anyways, we had Justin Fuente on both the ACC teleconference and a full press conference today. Let's get to it.
Savoy Family Tragedy
What a bizarre, gut-wrenching weekend it must have been for WR Sean Savoy to go from the best game of his young career to learning about the loss of his brother immediately afterward.
Local media reports suggest that Savoy's brother, Omar Rogers, was shot and killed outside a club in Southeast D.C., and Fuente says Savoy is still with his family for the moment.
"It's really difficult as a coach when your players, your young players, have to deal with very adult circumstances through really no fault of their own," Fuente told reporters Wednesday. "But I think the biggest thing we do is we let them know that we're there for them and we want to be here to support them."
DT Ricky Walker added the team wrote letters to Savoy expressing their support, and it must seem like a small mercy indeed that the Hokies have a bye this week so Savoy can be with his family without having to give a single thought to missing a game on Saturday.
A more heartening aspect of all this is the GoFundMe page that some fans started to pay for funeral expenses (and even for the education of Rogers' two young sons). They've raised more than $17,000 so far with everyone from Fuente's wife, Jenny, to Greg Stroman to Joey Slye and his family chipping in.
All the more proof that Hokie Nation is nothing if not generous, and here's hoping Savoy and his family are pulling through, somehow.
Resting Up the WRs
So, with the caveat that any discussion of football seems very small in the light of what Savoy is dealing with, let's take a look at how the team is healing up during the bye.
The primary concern is Cam Phillips, of course. Fuente didn't seem overly concerned about his foot injury immediately after the BC game, and nothing seems to have changed on that front today. Say it with me now: the bye couldn't have come at a better time.
Considering that Cam is perhaps the most important player on the offense (with only Josh Jackson rivaling him in importance, and even then, did you see the offense without Cam against the Eagles?) this is worth monitoring.
Doubly so when you consider Tech's next best option is currently dealing with a family tragedy, and the Hokies surely don't want to rush Savoy back to the team. It doesn't help matters either that James Clark, who has yet to contribute much on offense or in the return game, is still dealing with some bumps and bruises and hasn't really been able to get into the swing of things.
That's why Eric Kumah's big game against BC was so heartening, and why it seems the Hokies were willing to burn Drake DeIuliis' redshirt against the Eagles. The team recruited him as a Bucky Hodges-style TE-WR hybrid, and considering that WRs coach Holmon Wiggins says he's now working a bit with his group, it seems the Hokies are well aware of just how perilous the depth situation is at the position.
It's evident even to recruits that the Hokies don't have much in the way of WR depth — let's hope the bye week goes a long way toward Tech reversing that trend a bit.
A Day Off for the Vets
With an off week, it seems Fuente and company decided to get a little bit creative with the practice schedule, rewarding the veterans with a little R and R.
I don't remember the staff talking about this last year (correct me if I'm wrong) but it seems like a fun idea, which Fuente says he drew from his experience during his own playing days.
Not only do you earn some goodwill from your vets, but it strikes me that this addresses one of the most pressing issues on the team: depth. Whether it's receivers, as I mentioned before, or the defensive line, the Hokies are generally at their weakest when they have to get deeper into the depth chart at any given position group.
What better time to try and address that than on a bye, particularly when next week's opponent isn't terribly imposing (sorry Tar Heels, but you've gotta beat a team that isn't ODU at some point, right?).
Plus, you get fun stories like this one from Andrew Motuapuaka, who has certainly put his fair share of miles on his feet after all these years starting.
Enjoy the free Saturday, TKPers. The heart of ACC play will be here before you know it.