Mrs. Living4Fall and I made it down to the game last night, and boy am I glad we did! The atmosphere was really good, the weather was awesome, and other than the obnoxious UNC lady near us we had a great time!
Any time you are able to see the team live there are things that you notice that are difficult to see on TV, below are some of those things:
1. The atmosphere was really good! The stadium was about 85%-90% full, and the energy level was really good, not vintage Lane, but good. There were a ton of recruits there and they seemed to be having a great time! One interesting thing about it though was the fact that Tre Turner was asked about the atmosphere in the post game interviews and he said "its new" referencing the atmosphere. It seemed, as he answered the question, that he wasn't used to the atmosphere that existed last night. What I took from that is no matter what we think of this coaching staff, the team needs us in the stands and they need us to be Lane Stadium.
Speaking of the atmosphere, when did Lane Stadium turn into a hot mess of ridiculous discombobulated noise that blasts from the speakers at all different volumes almost all game long? It was weird and annoying. Maybe everyone is doing that nowadays. If so, I'm just turning into the old guy who loves Lane Stadium for what it was, the people in it, rather than for the speaker noise.
2. As you all probably know, I've not been sold on Fuente. I was in a "wait and see" posture as the season began, but after a couple of games in, it just seemed like he was in over his head an that he was a lame duck coach. But maybe my thoughts are wrong (only time will tell). Maybe 2018 wasn't the bottom, maybe it was the Duke game. What I saw last night (and the two games prior to this one) was a team that played hard-smart-tough. There were certainly enough mistakes to go around, but this team was full throttle until the very end. They played inspired football, and that lies squarely on the coaching staff. Kudos to the staff for keeping this team together! Maybe we are all witnessing Fuente establishing his culture into the VT football program. I certainly hope so!
3. Caleb Farley is quickly becoming a top tier ACC corner back. That kid can really cover. I've been noticing it all season long, but you can really see it in person. The move to CB, and the patience to allow him to learn, is really paying off. I hope he can get healthy during the off week.
4. The back part of the secondary (the two safety positions) does not play very disciplined football. I'm not sure what Bud can do about it at this point, but its really bad at times.
5. I'm really excited for the future of the interior DL. Those young guys are really starting to play fast. Pollard is especially noticeable on almost every pass play... as a true freshman no less.
6. I can tell you that the offense with Willis and without Willis looks like two completely different teams. Thats not a knock on Willis, the kid is a Hokie who put it all out there on the field for the team. But he isn't the right fit for this scheme. There's just something different about the way both HH and QP4 run the offense. They seem to manage the team/game/scheme much better. I know that the playbook was reduced greatly when QP4 came into the game, but it forced UNC to have to stop the run (there was a particular identity that existed and the players knew exactly what it was), and they couldn't. Both HH and QP4 give something to this team that it didn't have before, and it really looks like the players feel it as well.
My only gripe about the play calling last night would be that late in the game (second to last possession not counting taking a knee) with about 5 minutes left, VT was first and goal from just inside the 10. I would have loved to see at least 1, maybe 2, fades into the 1 on 1 matchups with both Tre and Damon. One completion there would have all but won the game in regulation. In any event, even if the Hokies would have lost, there would have been some excitement about the future.
I don't know how many wins we have left on the schedule, but I don't think we will see the same team that line up against Duke for the rest of the way. This team, despite the final record, might finally be growing up and into their own as the season heads towards the finish line, and as much as possible we should all rally to support them in whatever ways we have the power show it/give it.