ACC Coaches Talk Anonymously About Conference Foes for 2021

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Virginia Tech

"This is definitely the make-or-break year for Justin Fuente. I think they have to do something really big here to win back the fan base and the culture. On film they still show some of that talent, some of that old magic. They're good on defense, not really spectacular. The issue for them is that they haven't recruited well, so it gets thin really fast. They have ones who can play with anyone, but that's it. Depth is a major issue for them."

"You cannot survive on the portal. You have to sign and develop players. Their reliance on transfers is the big warning sign. I don't think they have the same presence in Virginia and the DMV they had even when things slid off in Frank [Beamer]'s last years."

"It'll be interesting to see the offense, interesting to see how much they can get out of the quarterback. It's really never been anything like what he promised, the Big 12 stuff, since he got to Tech."

"Schematically the defense is a mess. They're trying to marry multiple schemes. You can see some of Bud [Foster]'s stuff, then other stuff, then back to Bud."

"It looks like the absence of a decision, honestly. Bud would sell out and get you. You couldn't run because the box was stuffed and he'd dare you to beat his back-end guys. Now it's just a jumbled mess."

"They need a breakout offensive campaign to keep this thing going."

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Comments

yeah, I agree with most of that

any guesses on who said what?

It's always darkest before the dawn ~ Thomas Fuller

Whoever said that thinks Braxton played in the Big 12, so that narrows the field. Studied our D enough last year they likely played us at some point when we were a real mess. Shows respect for Beamer's last years so not a new coach or an ass hat.

Sometimes we live no particular way but our own

I think it was two separate comments. See what they can get out of Braxton and that Fuente hasn't delivered the TCU offense that we thought we'd be getting.

Yep, I read it as "the quarterback" means the position, and "he" is Fuente.

2021 Season Challenge: only comment with Batman memes.

Previous Challenges: Star Wars (2019), Marvel (2020)

Charlie Wiles?

Would be funny if he's the one roasting Hamilton's defense (I thought he should gotten a shot at the DC job, but no one else seemed to agree)

Just think, we could have Bud as HC and Wiles as DC. I would have loved to see that happen. IT would not have lasted very long, but would've been neat to see.

Hoping Fuente and Hamilton read these comments, get the right kind of fired up, and focus on delivering.

I think Narduzzi said the one about the defense being a jumbled mess, and the first one is Mack Brown

I could definitely hear either of those coaches making those comments. The first quote definitely sounds like something Brown would say.

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Head coaches usually don't participate in these types of articles. It's usually an assistant

I don't think any of these quotes are unfair or unreasonable criticism except:

"Schematically the defense is a mess. They're trying to marry multiple schemes. You can see some of Bud [Foster]'s stuff, then other stuff, then back to Bud."

This one at least has a legitimate explanation. Without a spring install JHam (and other unexpected defensive play-callers due to COVID) had to try and implement the new stuff while also sometimes going back to what the players understood better (Bud's stuff). That's no guarantee that it will get substantially better, but there is at least a reason why it happened like this.

I read this in Nardouche's voice.

TKPhi Damn Proud
BSME 2009

If he sees anything remotely related to Bud schemes, he gets PTSD, his knees go weak, and his voice gets squeaky.

JHam said the same thing about his defense on the Sons of Saturday podcast pretty much

"I'm too drunk to taste this chicken" - Colonel Sanders via Ricky Bobby

But what you just explained (COVID, needing to go back to something they knew) is a perfect explanation as to why it was a jumbled mess. I think out of all those quotes this one and the recruiting comment are the most factual.

To clarify, we are in agreement that he is stating exactly what happened. I was just saying this criticism at least had an explanation very specific to unique circumstances of 2020.

I hope to holy hell and god and in between we shut some people up against UNC.

TKPhi Damn Proud
BSME 2009

It's gonna happen UNCheat lost too much talent, and our D looks are not on film since last year D was not "installed"

It's hurts because it's true

Removing features to get people to sign up for your service is something EA would would do.

That's how I felt reading all these football coaches voice the same things we've been discussing all offseason as VT fans. I felt the same way reading all the positive things about UNC as well.

The UVA stuff was complimentary, but I felt like they were a little backhanded and nothing unpopular. They are well positioned to have a higher floor than in the past, but an artificially imposed ceiling as well.

It's funny because I feel like I can pick out our staffs comments about the other schools. Basically anything that isn't calling out specific people or schemes. Anything positive about the portal. Anything positive about quarterbacks. I'd really like to see the results

Removing features to get people to sign up for your service is something EA would would do.

Things I would guess our staff said:

Boston college: "When you look at their record and look at who they played really hard, Clemson and UNC specifically, you can see it starting to take hold."

Clemson: "I don't feel like they're quite as good at receiver as in years past, and whoever gets the majority of snaps at RB will be really interesting, I think they're really competitive there."

FSU: "Defensively they're strong on the back end, so they're hoping the transfers can plug and play and work out their run defense."

NC State: "They surprised a lot of folks, but it might've been a dead cat bounce last year. Look at their schedule and their wins and you get a better picture of who they probably are. They'll beat the bad teams and lose to the good teams, and do both convincingly. A lot of places in this league that's probably OK, but they've always expected more out of this program."

WF: "This is a really quiet program, and I think [Dave] Clawson likes it that way. They're about development, about consistency and serving their system. They had a pretty nice season last year."

Duke: "The offensive staff got shuffled last year but they still look sort of rudderless, and without an effective pass game and good QB play, man, it's tough on that defense."

GT: "Probably another long year for them, but you can see the progress."

Miami: "If you're looking for a how-to on the portal, they might be it. They do a really nice job evaluating guys and fitting them to what they do. I'm not sure how they handle that internally with the roster, but it seems to work."

UNC: "They're climbing up the ranks. Are they going to catch Clemson? Not right now, but they're getting better in almost every area."

LOLUVA: "They're going to hit you on defense. They're sound, they're smart, but they can still fly around."

Removing features to get people to sign up for your service is something EA would would do.

Not sure where one coach said the defense was ok... they were a mess, with huge talent gaps last year. I think one of those gaps has been addessed, with Harvey being added to a healthy Waller and a year older Strong. The others... let's hope.

Five star get after it 100 percent Juice Key-Playing. MAN

I feel like it was an accurate critique, especially the defense. 32 points per game was bad, and would have been worse without Herbert grinding yards for the offense and keeping the d off the field.

I find it interesting that there were two separate comments about our offense needing to be better.

Our offense has never been very good and although it has improved under Fuente it still isn't that great. It's obviously not scaring anyone. I know a lot of folks have defended the offense and the offensive coaches and perhaps some of the criticism they get is a bit unfair but this tells me that there may be some credence to at least some of the criticism. Fuente was billed as an offensive guru and the expectation was that he was going to bring a high-powered offense to Blacksburg. That just hasn't materialized yet and the other coaches in the league recognize that. Maybe it'll finally hit the field in 2021 and our offense will start lighting up the scoreboard the way we expected it to when Fuente was hired. That would certainly take some of the pressure off of the defense which was certainly poor in 2021 and also needs to improve a lot, and quickly.

It's always darkest before the dawn ~ Thomas Fuller

Good points. It is also hard to tell if they were saying the offense needs to be extra special to account for what they expect to be bad defense. Either way, my hope is that defense takes two steps forward which will make the offense hold steady (one step back and one step forward). That would lead to a good on field product.

"A person is smart. People are dumb, panicky dangerous animals and you know it." - K

Ouch. Can't say that I really disagree with much of anything there, but still, ouch. This should definitely be make or break and hope for the best.

Recovering scientist working in business consulting

Please let Whit read that article!

Jeremiah 29:11 and Go Hokies!

Why? I am sure he is aware of all of those things well before another assistant coach said it. Internally they know the defense was a mess. They preached the need to develop guys during the off season. Listen to the coaches talk on the podcasts they have been on and it is clear this isn't some secret. They discuss some of these things head on.

"I'm too drunk to taste this chicken" - Colonel Sanders via Ricky Bobby

I am sure he is aware of all of those things well before another assistant coach said it

The coaches Whit consulted about our offense are clearly different from the ones commenting on it here....there is a big disconnect there and one must wonder about that. In the infamous presser last December Whit noted the he had spoken with coaches who have coached against Fuente's offense and they reassured him that Fuente's offense was legit (a basis, I'm assuming, for keeping Fuente employed). But these coaches don't seem to think the offense is all that special. It's possible Whit knows that our offense is underwhelming. It's possible that he doesn't.

Edit to add context:

Whit Babcock (from the press conference 12/15/2020): "I talked to a very small number of people, coaches, perhaps scouts, others who have played against us, watched our films, studied it and really drilled down. I wanted an outside perspective on what we bring, how people prepare against us, what our scouting report is."

"Our offense, from people you would know and credibly talented people, the offensive scheme is really well thought of. It is adaptable, it is hard to prepare for. We didn't always execute how we needed on third down. We have a quarterback you can win with. We now gained some of the identity on offense that we want."

"Our offensive coaching and philosophy is really well-respected and not very easy to prepare for."

It's always darkest before the dawn ~ Thomas Fuller

The coaches Whit consulted about our offense are clearly different from the ones commenting on it here

Maybe my tinfoil hat is on too tight, but I dont think any of that happened (asking coaches for opinions). Still think Whit called that presser to pull the ripcord and was just flailing when he couldnt do what he wanted/planned to do.

Either it did happen and Whit was being led astray and he believed what he was hearing, or it did happen and Whit was playing coy because he felt that he had to reassure the fanbase, or it didn't happen and Whit was flat out lying to us. Neither of those is particularly good.

I would expect that Whit probably does have back-channels to folks outside the program who can scout the program for him and provide him with an outside perspective. I'm willing to believe he at least does that. What is actually said in those meetings may be different than what he shared publicly with the fans (in fact, it likely is). But I don't really feel good about him calling a last minute presser just to lie to us about the coach he's not firing. The whole episode was bizarre. None of us really knows what was going on or whether Fuente's job was saved by the BOV or Sands or something - all those theories are just that - theories. We'll never really know. Maybe Whit really actually felt that it was important to throw his support behind an embattled coach after a tough season that was heavily impacted by Covid19 and that he really truly never intended on firing Fuente in the first place. Maybe Whit truly believes the scouting report he got that says our offense is tough to prepare for. We just don't know.

It's always darkest before the dawn ~ Thomas Fuller

So we're to the point that we're going to let the words of anonymous ACC coaches convince us that our Athletic Director publicly lied to us?

Gobble Till You Wobble

y'all clearly didn't read my comment very carefully - I'm not saying that at all. In fact, I'm saying exactly the opposite.

It's always darkest before the dawn ~ Thomas Fuller

Ha! For clarity, I was saying Yep! for me

lol, that's quite a leap there Stiney.

I was replying to the comment that suggested none of those conversations did happen. I think they did happen. My point is that Whit said other people who know more about football than most of us told him that the offense is well thought out, well respected and difficult to prepare for which is kind of counter to what these anonymous quotes about our offense suggest. I'm not saying that these anonymous quotes are proof that Whit lied. I just find it interesting that these quotes differ from what Whit told us he was told by others.

It's always darkest before the dawn ~ Thomas Fuller

I don't think we even need anonymous ACC coaches to believe our AD would publicly lie for the good of the program.

To be very clear, I'm not saying he DID lie, but it goes back to what I said about the press conference in December. IF, and that's a big IF, the original plan was for the press conference to be announcing Fuente's departure from the program, and something forced us to change that at the eleventh hour, there is absolutely zero benefit to admitting that publicly. Nobody in their right mind would make such an insane PR blunder for any organization, football team or otherwise.

Scheduling a conference on the day your coach's buyout drops to announce you're keeping him is also a huge PR blunder.

Like... as big a blunder as unveiling the Bronco on OJ's birthday.

"It's always great to beat UVA, that makes us all smarter and better looking for a couple days".

Well respected people most likely said those positive things about the coaching....AND said a bunch of negative things that Whit wouldn't repeat at a rallying press conference.

"A person is smart. People are dumb, panicky dangerous animals and you know it." - K

Well respected people most likely said those positive things about the coaching....AND said a bunch of negative things

I won't deny that.

Whit wouldn't repeat at a rallying press conference.

I'm not sure it really rallied the fanbase TBH. I think most fans came away from that just more confused and upset than anything.

I was among folks who rolled their eyes at Whit's defense of Fuente's offense being that he's spoken to coaches who have to go against it. Coaches aren't dumb. They would know if the AD of one of their regular foes comes to ask for their opinion that there must be a reason. If, as a coach, I found Fuente's system easy to coach against and his boss came and asked me what it was like I'd put two and two together and sugar coat it as much as possible because, hey, I like having at least one easy week every season.

There's no way for us to know exactly what was said to Whit or by whom. All we know is what we see. And what we see is a football team that has a poorly constructed roster, is horrendously inconsistent, and doesn't have any elements that pose any real problems for teams in the ACC. This team just isn't very good. That's what we see. That's what we know.

It's always darkest before the dawn ~ Thomas Fuller

Watch what plays we call against coastal opponents on 3rd and 6; 3rd and 7... run all of the advanced stats you want- in crunch time, we don't attack. We run the QB power and punt. A great offense attacks good opponents, not just Richmond. We haven't done that in 3-4 years. Also a great offense has great coaches. Anybody want to argue our RB coach is great? Our WR coach is great? Our QB coach is great?

agree with all of this, jury is still out on Lecht tho

"Why gobble gobble chumps asks such good questions, I will never know." - TheFifthFuller

Most of the comments are about the defense being a mess and needing to break out on offense. The scheme showed guys open last year, holes to run through, etc so I believe it is hard to prepare for. We just had 0 consistency with QB play and WR play last year down the stretch.

"I'm too drunk to taste this chicken" - Colonel Sanders via Ricky Bobby

Maybe the offense will break out this year. I don't know. But it hasn't yet and that is a concern. Fuente is going into his 6th season with this offense and the previous 5 iterations haven't been much to write home about. I don't think you can really blame the doubters for not believing that his offense is going to suddenly start lighting defenses up. It's certainly a serviceable offense (I mean, it could be, and has been, worse) but it's a far cry from the high-powered offense everyone expected when he was hired. And, to my untrained eye, it hasn't shown any signs of progress to that end. If it doesn't take flight in 2021 I don't think it ever will. And these quotes from other coaches suggest that I'm not the only one who believes that.

It's always darkest before the dawn ~ Thomas Fuller

Exactly. Different QB every year, no continuity there. No real development of WRs beyond the top 2-3 guys. We have some talent and depth at TE, but Mitchell is not involved in the pass game enough. Herbert was the first real workhorse back, and we didn't recruit him. The offense is only slightly better than Leofflers honestly. And probably about even when lefty had all his guys and Kalvin Clein wasn't the top WR.

Wait a sec...
"We have zero depth anywhere but RB and maybe OL."
*10 minutes later*
"We have some talent and depth at TE..."

Well hey, at least we're gaining depth by the minute! /s

Whatever fits the narrative.

2021 Season Challenge: only comment with Batman memes.

Previous Challenges: Star Wars (2019), Marvel (2020)

5-6 is the narrative. Bottom line.

It's a bad sign that a guy who was hired because he was a QB whisperer can't find a QB.

Yeah, JHam himself essentially said "Our defense was a mess, we had to play whoever could show up and rely on a lot of old Bud looks since we couldn't teach a new system with zero practice" on the SoS podcast. So it's not like it's not understood, even our own DC is saying it.

If the ACC treats "positive cases" the same way this fall, we could be in the same boat.

Except we were able to have spring practice this year, which is why he wasn't able to teach the system last season

Just saying we could have a bunch of guys out for a particular game. We have zero depth anywhere but RB and perhaps OL

As some have eluded below; Whit came out and saved Fu with a press conference completely buying in to his vision et al. Fu will never get rid of Cornelson who is not a P5 OC in my opinion and has squandered talent, again in my opinion. The opposing coaches in this article seem to echo what we have seen for 4+ years and that is that we are predictable and don't seem to have a coherent scheme. They also have no fear of us as a recruiting foe (at least on top of the conference). They had to work hard against Bud and do not against JHam (and I love JHam as a coach and a Hokie). Of course Whit knows what articles are out there and I am certain he as an AD, Sports Fan and former athlete reads everything so this was more tongue-in-cheek to say, I hope Whit read this and it effects his next press conference regarding Fu (re: future results). Development, recruiting etc that you mention above are ALL on the coaching staff right?

Jeremiah 29:11 and Go Hokies!

As some have eluded below; Whit came out and saved Fu with a press conference completely buying in to his vision et al. Fu will never get rid of Cornelson who is not a P5 OC in my opinion and has squandered talent, again in my opinion. The opposing coaches in this article seem to echo what we have seen for 4+ years and that is that we are predictable and don't seem to have a coherent scheme. They also have no fear of us as a recruiting foe (at least on top of the conference). They had to work hard against Bud and do not against JHam (and I love JHam as a coach and a Hokie). Of course Whit knows what articles are out there and I am certain he as an AD, Sports Fan and former athlete reads everything so this was more tongue-in-cheek to say, I hope Whit read this and it effects his next press conference regarding Fu (re: future results). Development, recruiting etc that you mention above are ALL on the coaching staff right?

Jeremiah 29:11 and Go Hokies!

None of the six comments show high levels of respect as an opponent, whatever the specific subject.
I hope we surprise them.

The defense stinks... if you are being honest. Other than that, the quotes are spot on- especially about recruiting.

I couldn't disagree with any of those comments about last years team. I have hopes that we will finally see that Big 12 offense paired with a stifling defense. If we don't Fuente will be gone.

Me too, haha let's just hope the "Big 12 offense" we see is a little more 'Oklahoma' and a little less 'Kansas.'

Ouch, but point.

I can't tell if these are real quotes from coaches or someone just pasted a bunch of quotes from the TKP community from the last couple of years

Now finish up them taters; I'm gonna go fondle my sweaters.

Taken as a whole, these are reasonable and generally accurate evaluations.

Offense that had been fair but not outstanding and is extremely predictable at key points.

Defense which had regressed and now is in a sort of transition phase..only made more challenging by subpar Recruiting and continued losses to the Portal.

For '21, I think there is reason to hope that the Defense will improve, but the Offense will be similar in production overall (probably with some stepback in the Running game). But a Burmeister injury or 1-2 injuries on OL could be devastating. Unfortunately, with razor-thin Depth along the DL, I see us getting ground down and losing a lot of games in the 4th Q.

I picture these guys having a cram session with a Phil Steele magazine minutes before the interview so they have talking points. Maybe Athlon if they are really cramped for time.

"A person is smart. People are dumb, panicky dangerous animals and you know it." - K

I wish I could argue with ANY of those comments, but I can't really.

We all see the problems. I'm certain our coaches see the problems.

The only real question is whether they've addressed them at this point.

Well, we're going to find out shortly, because UNC and Notre Dame are coming to town.

Notre Dame I expect a loss, but want to see a respectable showing (which we've managed against them each time so far, even in the poor 2018 year we hung tough for awhile).

That first 3 game stretch is critical there. 1-2 with losses to UNC and WVU would start this season with a very bitter taste in everyone's mouth. 2-1 makes a world of difference. It's crazy how thin the margins are in that regard.

yeah margin's are super tight. 2-1 and I'm not feeling great but also not feeling terrible. It will also be interesting which of the two between NC and WVU is the W. Lose to UNC but beat WVU is probably most expected. Beating UNC and losing to WVU would be worse, I think. It would be right in line with the pattern of inconsistency we've seen from Fuente's teams since 2016. He has a knack for winning big and then losing big.

It's always darkest before the dawn ~ Thomas Fuller

My wife is a domer. We'll be at our fourth Tech-ND game together this season. Although unlikely, I REALLY want the W.

i feel ya, man. my wife went to clemson. they have been kicking our ass every since we started dating.

We should start a support group... jk

... but maybe?

I'll join as a founding member. My wife is a tarheel

My wife is a Buckeye, she lets me watch Hokie football, cause

she can always check the score since Ohio State always wins

TKPhi Damn Proud
BSME 2009

Yet another benefit of marrying a Canadian. Her undergrad football team from Alberta will NEVER beat mine! Now if her grad school football team ever does (U. Mass Amherst) I'll never live that down.

Recovering scientist working in business consulting

These things used to be useful. Now they're just used for the most part by peers as another little negative recruiting tool or to make excuses about how good Clemson is or in case UNC actually turns out to be more than a paper lion.

I mean, duh, in a Covid inflicted 1st year post-Bud, the defense is like a jumbled mixture of Bud and "other" ? Whodathunkit? But if that's the coach's only takeaway, he's either naive or he's creating a narrative. I vote the latter.

I agree. Only two of these comments sound like they came from people actually paying attention (about the portal and lack of Big 12 offense). And neither of those is particularly insightful, or presents novel information.

I guess in general they say something about the temperature of the room and perception of the program. But again, they really just echo the national media narrative. News flash! The program is struggling, Fuente is on the hot seat.

I find it funny that a lot of what was said in those comments by fellow ACC coaches are the exact same sentiments that get people in here berated for being too negative and making this place a cesspool.

"I have a PLAN. You just need to have a little goddamn faith, Whit. I just need. more. MONEY." - Justin van der Linde

Ah, but the coaches aren't saying it over and over again in every thread regardless of original topic

Fair point

"I have a PLAN. You just need to have a little goddamn faith, Whit. I just need. more. MONEY." - Justin van der Linde

I would have to assume that the other coaches are also not Virginia Tech fans. It's not hard to imagine a world where opposing teams don't think that highly of us.

It's not the sentiment, it's finding a way to exaggerate and cram that sentiment into any conversation

"Why gobble gobble chumps asks such good questions, I will never know." - TheFifthFuller

It's particularly annoying in the "Welcome aboard, fabulous new recruit!" threads.

Achievement unlocked: All of the Fullers

"Sam Rogers is a college football icon" SB Nation

Thanks Frank!