From a Lack of Energy to Too Much Outside Noise, Hokies Search for Answers on Syracuse Letdown

With a Miami matchup just a few days away, Justin Fuente doesn't have long to get the Hokies back on track.

[Michael Shroyer]

Just as fast as the Virginia Tech hype train rolled into town, it's now run off the tracks.

With attention from the media at a season-high, the Hokies went into Syracuse and gave up 561 yards and 32 first downs en route to a 31-17 defeat at the hands of the Orange.

The offense looked out of sorts for large stretches of the game as well, and as QB Jerod Evans saw it, that all came down to a lack of energy.

"I think we moved on (from the UNC game), I just think that (Syracuse) game, we were so hungry — we were hungry for this one — but this one, we have to bring our own juice," Evans said. "We have to bring our own energy, our own emotion. This is a very team-oriented sport and we have some guys, most guys, bringing it — some guys not. That can lead to certain things. As far as bringing our own stuff, we as a unit didn't bring it all the way. That was kind of the case on Syracuse."

Justin Fuente didn't quite agree with his quarterback's assessment, arguing that the team played with "great effort" and dutifully gave Dino Babers' squad plenty of praise. If anything, Fuente allows that his team might've simply bought into the hype a bit, despite his best efforts.

"It used to be much easier to insulate them from all of the talk and chatter and all of the things that come along with it," Fuente said. "That's virtually impossible. As a coach, you used to just keep them away from it. Now you have to — you should, at least in my opinion — continually address how to handle it, because you can't keep them away from it. It's all over the place. That's difficult. It's hard to do. It's hard on everybody, not just kids, it's hard on adults. Everybody likes to feel good and have good things said about you, but you've got to understand that it ultimately comes down to your performance every Saturday."

But from an X's and O's standpoint, Fuente was less definitive about where exactly his team could stand to improve.

The Hokies certainly struggled to set up a consistent running game, considering that Travon McMillian and Marshawn Williams combined for 15 touches and 62 yards on the ground, which has certainly attracted plenty of attention in the game's aftermath. Nevertheless, Fuente asserted he's not counting carries, and sees the problem more holistically.

"The whole 'touches' deal is beyond me," Fuente said. "I don't subscribe to it, I don't really care. I'd like for us to run the ball efficiently. I'd for us to throw the ball efficiently. If that's 10 carries or 15 carries or 25 carries, I don't really care. I'd like for us to execute our entire offense at a higher level. Whether that's at quarterback or offensive line or tailback or wide receiver."

The defense didn't exactly put on its best showing either, particularly the secondary. The Orange torched Bud Foster's defense to the tune of 405 passing yards, with an average of 13.5 yards per completion. While Amba Etta-Tawo was largely held in check (he had five catches for 54 yards), it was the trio of Ervin Philips, Brisly Estime, and Steve Ishmael that wreaked havoc.

"Syracuse, I felt like going into the game, they had some dynamic receivers," Foster said. "I felt they were a little bit of a mix of East Carolina and North Carolina, as far as talent wise, and probably a little bit more explosive after playing against them. I thought (Phillips) was (Ryan) Switzer, but with juice. I felt that going in, and he showed that in our game, too."

The team's focus now shifts to Thursday night, where the Hokies will host a talented Miami team back in the friendly confines of Lane Stadium.

Virginia Tech has played in 30 games on Thursday night since ESPN started televising those contents in 1991, second only to Georgia Tech. The Hokies boast a 21-9 record in those games, with an 11-5 mark at home, and Fuente certainly hopes the Hokies can continue their Thursday night success to keep their ACC Coastal chances alive.

"We've got a very talented Miami team coming into town for what should be a great atmosphere on a Thursday night," Fuente said. "I've heard quite a bit about Thursday nights in Blacksburg, Va. Looking forward to taking part in it. Confident our kids will be ready to go. We've got a long way to go and a short time to get there. A lot of work to get done this week."

Fuente may have never experienced a Thursday night game in Lane, but he's no stranger to short weeks. He went 3-0 in those circumstances during his Memphis days, something he partially credits to Gary Patterson's tutelage at TCU.

"When we did it at TCU, we did it a couple different ways, which allowed me to kind of see the different ways to do it and formulate my own opinion," Fuente said. "But absolutely, the job is to get them to Thursday feeling good physically and knowing what to do. That's the balance you've got on a short week is how do you balance practice so they know what to do out there but they also feel good."

DE Ken Ekanem's been through a few Thursday nighters of his own, and he certainly remembers the last time Miami came to town back in 2014. The Hokies and the Canes have been rivals for years, but with a 30-6 home loss to avenge, Ekanem is especially fired up about another matchup with Miami.

"I think we definitely do owe these guys," Ekanem said. "We've gotta bring it this coming Thursday. We can't let it be any bigger than it actually is. Gotta keep everybody's head level. I think we definitely owe them and definitely gotta bring it come Thursday."

Jerod Evans

ON HOW MUCH THE SHORT WEEK CONDENSES HIS PREPARATION:

"This is my first turnaround of my collegiate career, so I'm pretty sure Coach (Justin) Fuente will make sure that we're very urgent in what we're doing as far as preparation, studying, film study, out on the practice field and all that. This is my first go around, so I'll see how that goes. I'm really not for sure. I'm pretty urgent regardless of quick turnaround. We'll see."

ON IF SYRACUSE DID ANYTHING DEFENSIVELY THAT HE HADN'T SEEN IN THE FIRST FIVE GAMES:

"I don't think anything that I haven't seen. Again, I've played against our defense all the time, so they didn't show me anything new. They tried to cheat to Isaiah (Ford) a lot more and tried to disguise that a little bit more. It got me a couple of times but then I was starting to see it better and I started going to Isaiah more — it was nothing different, looking at it. When you don't win a game, it's always frustrating. There's certain things that I could have done extremely better, that I know I could have done better, that I didn't do. Gotta live with the results. It's over with now. Can't help the past."

ON IF THE RUNNING GAME HAS BEEN INCONSISTENT AND HOW THAT HAS HURT THE OFFENSE:

"I don't know how to answer that."

ON IF HE'S EXCITED TO PLAY IN A GAME ON THURSDAY NIGHT IN LANE STADIUM:

"I'm excited to play in Lane if it's a Saturday morning, Saturday afternoon — having the Hokies fans behind us is definitely exciting to actually play another home game. (We've) been away from home for a couple of weeks. (As far as a) primetime game, I've already been in one with Bristol, so yeah, it's gonna be exciting to have the fans behind us."

ON IF TE CHRIS CUNNINGHAM IS BECOMING A FAVORITE TARGET IN GOAL LINE SITUATIONS:

"If the man's open, he's open. I don't look for somebody in particular. It all dictates to what the play call is. If we have fades on the goal line, then I look for certain matchups, I look for certain coverages. Whoever had the best matchup or has the best coverage — if they're trying to double Isaiah, then I'm going the opposite way and finding Cam (Phillips) or Bucky (Hodges). If we're on the goal line and we have different packages, then I look for my reads as far as how we have it set up. I wouldn't say when he's in there that it dictates who I throw it to. Coverage dictates where I throw it. It just so happens to be Chris Cunningham right now."

ON IF HE HAS A GOOD RAPPORT WITH CUNNINGHAM:

"Oh yeah, I have good chemistry with all the guys that I'm throwing to."

ON IF HE'S HAD A CHANCE TO LOOK AT MIAMI ON TAPE YET:

"I have not seen them yet. Yesterday was my first time actually looking at film, that was not even on them, it was over Syracuse and us. Today, I will definitely be watching them. But just watching them on TV, they're very tenacious on the front four, have great athletes, that's what jumps out to me. But I'll be watching film on them today."

ON THE MOOD OF THE LOCKER ROOM AFTER THE LOSS TO SYRACUSE:

"We let one slip away. We know we can't have it back. That's the mood. We definitely let one slip away that we shouldn't have. Like I said, we have great leadership on this team. All we can do is move forward. That was in the past, just like UNC — we won, we had to move on. This game, Syracuse, we've gotta move on. We've got a Thursday night game against Miami."

ON IF THERE ARE LESSONS THEY CAN DRAW FROM THE LOSS TO TENNESSEE TO HELP WITH THIS WEEK:

"Most definitely, you have to lead the team making sure that we don't sit and sulk on the loss. We have great leadership to make sure that we learn from the mistakes, make sure that we learn the lesson out of that loss that we had against Syracuse."

ON IF THE PRACTICES WERE GOOD LEADING UP TO THE SYRACUSE GAME:

"I don't think it was bad."

Ken Ekanem

ON HOW DIFFICULT IT IS FOR A DEFENSIVE PLAYER TO GET THEIR BODY RIGHT ON A SHORT TURNAROUND GAME WEEK:

"I don't think it's that tough, physically. Offseason preparation kind of helped us with that, just being recovered. Our strength and conditioning staff does a good job with us the day after the game in getting our bodies right. Stretching, rolling out, making sure all of the bad bloods out and that our bodies are good to go come first practice."

ON WHAT IT IS ABOUT RUNNING QUARTERBACKS THAT SEEMS TO BEFUDDLE THIS DEFENSE:

"I think our DBs stay on the wide receivers a long time. Definitely with Syracuse's wide receivers, in particular, you've gotta stay on those guys because that QB can scramble out and pass to them. Our DBs have done a pretty good job of trying to stay with the wide receivers and when that happens, running lanes open for the quarterback. He can escape and hurt us for big gains. I think that's one of the main reasons why that eats up so much on our defense. It's definitely a concern on us."

ON IF THERE WERE ANY BLOCKING SCHEMES THE OFFENSIVE LINE USED TO PREVENT PASS RUSH:

"It's a lot of run-pass option, so not every — they ran the ball, but also, the quarterback had the option of holding it and throwing it. The quarterback can't really keep the ball in his hands for too long. We got a decent amount of hits on him. He was a little banged up during the game, but he battled through and had a hell of a game. It was just a pretty quick passing scheme. That definitely helped their offensive line."

ON THE MOOD AROUND THE TEAM:

"The way I look at it, you've just got to have a short term memory. Just putting this one behind us and moving on to Miami. Especially on a short week, we've just gotta keep moving on. We can't let this one hurt us. We're looking forward to — I don't think everything's really damaged. We've still got one goal in mind, and that's going 1-0 each week. Gotta bring it when Miami comes to town."

ON HOW CRITICAL THE MIAMI GAME NOW BECOMES:

"It's very critical. Every ACC opponent is like a championship game. I think we can't get this hyped up in our minds. We've gotta take it one game at a time, just like before. Just gotta focus on 1-0. But yeah, any ACC opponent, especially Miami, who's given us troubles in the past and is a big rivalry of ours, is a big game."

ON HIS THOUGHTS ON BRAD KAAYA:

"I've always been impressed with him. As a true freshman, he came to down two years ago, he's very composed in the pocket, calm in the pocket, pretty good pocket passer. He does a good job of leading his troops. I've got a lot of respect for him. I think he's a pretty high caliber quarterback."

ON HIS THOUGHTS ON ANDREW MOTUAPUAKA:

"I think experience is the best teacher, so after one year of starting, he just got to see everything. Everything was starting to slow down. This offseason, he's really been pushing himself. He's been running with the skill group, which is one group faster than he's supposed to be in. He's got really good fitness and does a really good job in practice of flying around and playing with a lot of energy. It's really paying off for him this season. He's been doing a good job of leading us out there and making communication really well and all of that. Really proud of him and how he's developed from year one to year two."

ON THE RELATIONSHIP BETWEEN TERRELL AND TREMAINE EDMUNDS ON THE PRACTICE FIELD AND LOCKER ROOM:

"They have a good rapport with each other. They definitely talk the most out of everybody in the backfield between two people. I think it's really cool seeing those two guys line up on the same side of the ball, just being able to get after it, tandem tackles — I think that's really cool. They obviously have a lot of chemistry between those two, just naturally. I think they're two high-quality human beings."

ON IF IT WILL BE A WELCOME SIGHT TO SEE A NON-SPREAD OFFENSE COME TO TOWN:

"Yeah, definitely. Going against a high-paced offense is just tiring, (and) not being able to stay on the field as long and a less amount of plays. It's nice to change it up a little bit. Coming from UNC to Syracuse, Miami is a little more of a slower pace. Just gotta face them the same."

Isaiah Ford

ON HIS THOUGHTS ON EVANS SAYING SYRACUSE COVERED HIM MORE THAN OTHER TEAMS HAVE:

"I think, actually, we've been getting a pretty good bit of it. Last year we got some towards the end of the season and then the Tennessee game and then a couple of times after that, we've been getting a good amount as well. It's not really anything that I'm not used to."

ON THE MOOD OF THE TEAM ON SUNDAY FOR WORKOUTS:

"I feel like the team handled it very professionally. We all knew that we let one slip away Saturday, but we can't hang our heads on that because Miami is coming to town this week. Whether we like it or not, they're gonna be ready to play. If we mope around in practice this week and then come out to play Thursday, then we're gonna get our tails kicked in front of our fans. We don't want that to happen. Everyone was determined to get better in the lifts and the runs and watching films, every aspect of the game."

ON IF THE TEAM DIDN'T DO A GOOD JOB WITH THE 1-0 MENTALITY AFTER THE UNC WIN:

"I wouldn't say that. I think that our coaches did a fantastic job of trying to prepare us for Syracuse. I feel like we had a pretty good week of preparation with Syracuse and focusing only on Syracuse. I don't know what it was. Well, I do actually, they outplayed us. That's what happened."

ON WHAT GETS CUT OUT OF THE NORMAL WEEK ROUTINE WHEN YOU HAVE A SHORT WEEK:

"We try to fit everything that we usually do in a regular week, really just focus on the little things more than anything else. Try to smush it all down into doing maybe some things we would do Tuesday and Wednesday, we'll just do it on a Tuesday and try to shorten it down like that. Get our legs fresh, just things like that."

ON WHAT HE'S SEEN OF MIAMI ON FILM AND HOW THEY COMPARE TO SYRACUSE:

"They're really athletic across the board. The D-line, they have a bunch of animals down there. Their linebackers, they have two true freshmen linebackers that have been really good. Their secondary is experienced, on the corner, he's a big-time corner. It'll be a lot of fun. It'll be a big test for us."

ON IF HE AGREED WITH EVANS THAT THE TEAM DIDN'T BRING ENOUGH ENERGY:

"I would take that as my fault. As a leader, I really don't speak up as much, but I like to show my actions. I guess that's just me not making enough plays. That's something that I'll take on my shoulders and make sure that we don't have that excuse this Thursday. I'll go out there and try to make as many plays as I can and try to rally my team and give us a momentum shift."

ON IF HE'S DOING ANYTHING DIFFERENT NOW THAT TEAMS ARE FULLY AWARE OF HIS SKILL SET:

"Just focusing on every little detail. Like you said, when there's gonna be double coverages, you have to be very precise in every little movement. No wasted movement and be very detailed in your route running and your breaks and attacking the ball with your hands and things like that. Just really focusing on the little details."

ON IF IT'S DIFFERENT LOSING IN FRONT OF HOKIE FANS AS OPPOSED TO LOSING ON THE ROAD:

"I take every loss the same. I'm probably the biggest sore loser on this planet. Anyone in our locker room will tell you whether it's playing ping pong or pool or whatever, I always wanna win. We always take losing the same way whether it's home or away."

Justin Fuente

OPENING STATEMENT:

"Obviously coming off a tough performance last week, again, credit to Bowling Green — he used to be at Bowling Green, excuse me — credit to Syracuse and Coach (Dino) Babers for the job that they did. Had a good meeting yesterday. Kids got out and ran and lift, good little team meeting. Not that much time to dwell on that, gotta move forward. It's the same message we would have had, had we won the ballgame. We gotta turn the page and get ready to go. We've got a very talented Miami team coming into town for what should be a great atmosphere on a Thursday night. I've heard quite a bit about Thursday nights in Blacksburg, Va. Looking forward to taking part in it. Confident our kids will be ready to go. We've got a long way to go and a short time to get there. A lot of work to get done this week."

ON HIS SECRET TO SUCCESS ON A SHORT WEEK:

"If there's anything to it, it's that at TCU, as an assistant, we played on — in about five years there — I don't know how many, but a bunch of Thursday nights. I've payed close attention to how we went about things there. So at least I had formulated an opinion about how I wanted to do it when we got to Memphis. Obviously as we got better at Memphis, then we got more of those Thursday opportunities. We had better teams as we were there a little bit longer. The thing I would say is I don't know if there's a secret to it. I know a bunch of people who do it a bunch of different ways. I have conviction about how I would like to do it, in terms of planning the week, just because I've been through it a couple of times."

ON WHAT HE SAW FROM SYRACUSE THAT HE WASN'T EXPECTING:

"They ran their offense and their defense and executed at a high level. Our kids played hard. We just didn't play well enough. There wasn't a huge schematic difference in anything. It was just a little bit of execution that they executed at a higher level than we did."

ON IF HE AGREED WITH EVANS THAT THE TEAM DIDN'T BRING ENOUGH ENERGY:

"I think I would take everything our guys say in terms of evaluating our team with a grain of salt, first and foremost, whether it's an X's and O's evaluation of the other team or an assessment of our mental state. We had good energy on the field. Guys played hard. When you watched the film, they played with good toughness and great effort. I would say, as a whole, that that would be offensively, defensively, special teams-wise, coaches, players, we didn't execute at a level high enough to win the game. That's obvious. But I don't think there's some deep — I like our guys. Our guys were there for one reason, to take care of business. We didn't get that done, but we had emotion and we played hard."

ON IF THERE WERE ANY ISSUES OF PLAY CALLING OR INJURIES IN THE RUN GAME:

"No, nobody was hurt. No issue with play calling."

ON IF CONSISTENCY WEEK TO WEEK IS THE HARDEST PART OF COLLEGE FOOTBALL:

"That's certainly one of them. I think there's several factors to that. One, there is a level of quality through college football, there's a couple of teams that are maybe heads and shoulders above everybody else, and then there are a bunch of people who are fighting, scratching, and clawing to climb that ladder. I think the other thing that I see is we used to be removed from much of that. You could remove your team from a bunch of that communication and that's just not the world we live in anymore. It used to be much easier to insulate them from all of the talk and chatter and all of the things that come along with it. That's virtually impossible. As a coach, you used to just keep them away from it. Now you have to — you should, at least in my opinion — continually address how to handle it, because you can't keep them away from it. It's all over the place. That's difficult. It's hard to do. It's hard on everybody, not just kids, it's hard on adults. Everybody likes to feel good and have good things said about you, but you've got to understand that it ultimately comes down to your performance every Saturday."

ON IF HE FELT THE TEAM WAS OUT OF POSITION FROM WHAT THEY NORMALLY ARE:

"I would say that you spread it all over the field like Sunday's wash, and a half a step, either way, can sometimes be a difference. That was the feeling I got watching the film was just, it wasn't that we weren't there — we got hit on a double move and a trick play — but it was all the other plays, to me, we were just not as on top of it as we had been in the last couple games. That's everywhere. Even the easy plays that should have been easy for us offensively weren't easy. We maybe made them, but it was a struggle. Same thing on special teams, everything was just a little off. What I don't want to do is take credit away from Syracuse and Coach Babers, because I think they did a great job."

ON KEEPING THE TEAM EVEN KEELED FOR A THURSDAY NIGHT GAME WITH MIAMI:

"I think our guys will be excited to play. I think they're understating kind of my mode of operation on a weekly basis and becoming accustomed to that. I'm confident that we'll be not just mentally ready to play, but emotionally ready to play and handle it and go play the way we should."

ON WHOSE DECISION IT WAS FOR ANDREW MOTUAPUAKA TO RUN WITH THE SKILL PLAYERS:

"I don't know. It wasn't mine. My take on Andrew is he's prepared and acted like an adult ever since I got here. I know Andy wrote a deal about him and he's living his life a little bit differently. I don't know much about that, but I just know that in my time here, he's just done everything we've ever asked him to do in terms of continuing to work hard and lead and practice hard. And I think playing last year's probably helped that. Some experience understanding, even getting more comfortable, has helped him play better this year. But he's had a good summer this year in terms of condition and running. But I didn't come to him and ask him to run with the safeties or whatever."

ON IF HE LIKES THE CHALLENGE OF PREPARING FOR A SHORT WEEK AGAINST ANOTHER HEAD COACH:

"I always enjoy the challenge every week, but the short weeks are certainly different. I told my wife when I got home, 'It's gonna be a long, short week.' That's just the way it is. We've got two hungry football teams that are gonna play out here. They're very well coached. They obviously have the fine tradition and history, as do we. Everybody in our program is looking forward to it."

Bud Foster

ON IF THINGS LOOKED DIFFERENT ON FILM SUNDAY AS OPPOSED TO IN THE MOMENT DURING THE GAME:

"The kids played hard. We gave a couple big plays away, and after that, you take three plays out of the game — the first touchdown pass, the halfback pass, then they had off a penalty, they threw to the tight end down the field — I think that was 178 yards in three plays. They had 300-and-I forget what it was, the other 97 (plays) they had 338 yards. It came up to 4 yards a play. Which against that kind of offense, you're gonna get that. We just can't have the big plays. The kids played hard. You eliminated the explosive plays, I think they really had one drive on us when it's all said and done. I'm not saying that that's a consolation, because I still think that we didn't play as sharp as we needed to, but we played extremely hard. That's a tough environment to play (in). We talked as a staff, we played like we wanted to win, Syracuse played like they needed to win. There's a difference right there. We've gotta go play this week like we need to win, that's the bottom line. The kids played hard, that style of offense, it's hard to just smother people. If you play man coverage, they're gonna isolate you to the field and go 50/50 balls. You guys have seen that with East Carolina and people like that in the past. We were trying to mix up a couple different coverages and I think it's gonna aggravate you. I think we did some things to drop eight (defenders), I saw somebody's post that the quarterback rushed for 100 yards. Their quarterback, they had a couple QB draws that were added with plays, but they had the quarterback scrambled when we were dropping eight sometimes. We had some good rush on him. We've also stopped a bunch of running quarterbacks over the time, too. That's just part of the nature of the game nowadays. When they're spreading you out, they're spreading your defenders out, if you wanna play a variety of coverages, the quarterback — if he is a running threat — is an issue when that's all said and done. Hopefully, at times, you can keep him contained. But they did a nice job. I thought he played his best football game this past Saturday."

ON WHAT LED TO THEIR 3RD AND 4TH DOWN SUCCESS:

"A lot of short yards. We were in a lot of where the quarterback had a couple of gains. We just need to be a little bit more aggressive on those situations. You had empty, we were in man (coverage), we gave up the inside a couple of times which is not what you're supposed to do. We brought pressure and we played coverage, we did it all. That was just kind of a mix right there when it's all said and done. They hit their share, we did enough good things, which you guys have seen what we have did the first couple of weeks. That's pretty elite. I don't know if you can do that every week, to be honest with you. That's part of it. I'd like to say we go out and smother people every week, but that's not what you do. Syracuse, I felt like going into the game, they had some dynamic receivers. I felt they were a little bit of a mix of East Carolina and North Carolina, as far as talent wise, and probably a little bit more explosive after playing against them. I thought (Ervin Philips) was (Ryan) Switzer, but with juice. I felt that going in, and he showed that in our game, too."

ON IF HAVING SEVERAL VETERAN PLAYERS ON DEFENSE WILL HELP TO TURN THE PAGE GOING INTO MIAMI:

"Obviously this last week was disappointing. The only thing that we have to do is turn the page and move forward. We've got a big time football game ahead of us. We still control where we want to go, but we've gotta control one at a time. That's gotta be our sole focus, our sole — it's where our energy needs to be placed on — and that's what we've gotta do from here on out. It's one at a time, don't worry about anything else. But we've got a big time opponent. You've got a team that's coming in here that's wounded from two losses back-to-back, that in order for them to get back in the mix, they've gotta play — it's kind of like a wounded animal backed up in the corner a little bit. They're gonna play their best football. Got a lot of respect for Miami. I know they have a new staff, but at the same time we've got the utmost respect for Mark Richt and the type of program that he's run in the past. It's been awhile since we've competed against him. Last time I guess (was the) Chick-Fil-A Bowl, but then prior to that, Florida State teams. Very dynamic group of athletes. Miami's still Miami. They've lost a couple of tough ones, but they've got a really talented football team. We've gotta go play very, very well. We don't have to remind them a whole lot. We'll just put on the tape. They've got those kind of athletes. Even though Duke Johnson is gone, their two running backs right now are every bit as good as he is. They're very impressive."

ON BRAD KAAYA:

"He's a drop-back style guy. He's got a good arm. He's a pro-style guy that can throw it from one has to the sideline. Arm strength, he's a big time talent."

ON IF HE'S GOTTEN TO BREAK DOWN FILM ON MIAMI:

"Miami has always had great team speed, in particular at the skill positions. I don't see any difference right now. You've got a core of guys that can take you deep, a core of guys that can, after the catch, can create big plays. They'll get them not just going vertical, they'll get them quick screens and things of that nature and have the ability to run after the catch. They like their tight ends and I think they're extremely talented players, too. They'll split them up and try to create mismatches. They're big kids that are in that 6'4, 6'5 range that run very, very well. They'll use a lot of 12 personnel. Three to four wide looks. Their running backs, they're gonna get the ball to their backs not just handing it off, but in little check downs. They're just very explosive and talented in space. We've gotta do a great job, if they do get the ball out to them, of converging and taking away seams and lanes as far as running lanes and that type of thing after the catch."

ON THE EXPERIENCE OF A THURSDAY NIGHT GAME IN LANE STADIUM:

"It's pretty exciting. Obviously we've been a Thursday night darling when this whole thing started years and years ago. At the end of the day, what makes it exciting, is how we play the game. That's that we've gotta go do. We're gonna have a great turnout, great atmosphere, second to none. When it's all said and done, those people will have an impact as far as crowd noise. When you have that, at the same time, it's gonna be 11 on 11 on the field. That's what we've gotta focus on and really lock in in a short week. Make sure we're really tuned in with our gameplan, with our execution of the game plan, and then our efforts and passion playing the game. That'll take care of itself. Hopefully the crowd will be a factor as well. I love playing on Thursday nights, especially playing at home. It's a great atmosphere, second to none, here at Virginia Tech. We're excited about the opportunity."

ON THE MOOD OF THE TEAM RIGHT NOW:

"They were very disappointed, which is what you want it to be. Very disappointed. That probably says it all. We're looking forward, the good thing is this week, today for us is Tuesday. Yesterday was Monday and Sunday all in one. Very short nights for us, but a short week, which is fine. We get to forget about that one and move forward. That's a good thing."

Woody Baron

ON HOW HE GETS THE TEAM IN THE MINDSET OF MOVING FORWARD AS A SENIOR:

"I think we've done a great job of just realizing that the next game's coming upon us and the next team doesn't feel bad for us. I know we had to do the same thing after the Bristol game, our previous loss. Just move forward. Really approach the next week trying to get a 'W'."

ON IF HE CONDENSES HIS PREPARATION ON A SHORT WEEK:

"There are a couple of things that are condensed as far as team preparation. Practice, of course, you're only gonna get three or four solid days of practice. As far as therapy and my individual preparation, it's not so much condensed. Just try to get in what you need to in a short amount of time."

ON HOW MUCH MIAMI FILM HE'S WATCHED AND HOW THEY DIFFER FROM SYRACUSE:

"I got to look at them a little bit and they're just what I thought. (An) athletic team across the board. They've got guys in the box who can run, play action, throwing the ball. They're a very good team, like I'm used to. A very capable team."

ON THE TEAM MOOD FOLLOWING THE SYRACUSE LOSS:

"Right immediately after the game, it was definitely a sour feeling. We lost, it was an ugly loss, but we knew Miami was coming to town. They're not gonna feel bad for us. We've gotta turn the page."

ON HIS BODY FEELS ON A TYPICAL THURSDAY:

"On a normal Thursday, we're taking the pads off. It's just kind of a mental practice day. You feel pretty good from the week prior. This week, it's a little more condensed, but Coach (Ben) Hilgart and the strength staff are gonna have us ready to go. I'm sure I will feel great which will be tomorrow, I guess, or Wednesday preceding this game."

ON HOW HE WILL SPEND A THURSDAY LEADING UP TO A GAME:

"We'll be at the hotel in Roanoke and I'm sure they'll try to make it as close to a Saturday as possible."

ON IF IT'S GOOD TO PLAY QUICKLY AFTER A LOSS:

"Yeah, I think there's definitely a great opportunity. You don't have to wait a full week after a loss to get that bad taste out of your mouth. But it's just that, it's an opportunity for both teams. One team's gonna come out feeling better about themselves, and the other team's gonna have their back against the wall. We just gotta prepare and hopefully we'll be victorious."

ON IF HE HAS ANY MEMORIES OF THE BAD LOSS TO MIAMI TWO YEARS AGO:

"The older guys who were here for that game remember what it was in Lane on Thursday night on national television. As far as the team right now, it's a whole different team than it was two years ago for both sides. We're just trying to prepare the best we can to get this 'W' on Thursday."

Comments

Great write up as always. Everyone's head seems to be in the right place, hopefully they are ready to ball out come Thursday

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

I wonder if the Bowling Green slip was a jab at Dino for calling him Fuentes.

"Yeah, it do." - Mike Vick

If it is, Fuente is a genius for such a subtle jab.

Exit light. Enter night. Enter the Hokies.

If it had been the Ol' Ball Coach himself, I'd absolutely believe that it was. With CJF, nah, I think it was being more familiar with a man than the team he's with. Honest mistake with no insult intended.

Click here to destroy wall.

Nah, the jab would have been to call him Coach Baber

Seems like every time a question is asked to a player the media is baiting players to talk down about another side of the ball or player. Good to see our guys handle it so professionally!

Another white bronco? The first one didn't go too far.

Agreed. It's an unfortunate part of the job of running a program nowadays but CJF really delivers his message effectively and in a way that it sticks. His ability to run a program is, to me, just as astute as his coaching on field and is a major reason to believe that things will keep getting better with time.

Nobody thought he would have the offense humming like he did almost immediately, including me. Hiccups happen, but I believe under Fuente they won't get repeated. Which is the difference in whether a program peaks or keeps rising.

Y'all, I gotta confess, i think it was my fault. I started the day wearing my lucky orange VT shirt. Too late, I remembered Syracuse is . . . The Orange. Not even Orangemen anymore, just . . . Orange (how strange, but whatever). So I changed into a grey VT shirt, because maroon didn't work so well during Tennessee, and dang if The Orange didn't run out wearing . . . grey. I knew right then it was all over.

I have no idea what to wear on Thursday.

"Tajh Boyd over the middle . . . and it's caught for an interception! Michael Cole, lying flat on his back, ARE YOU KIDDING???"

It's maroon effect so maybe maroon

You too? We are undefeated in my maroon polo shirt with the orange horse. I wore an orange shirt Saturday.

I'll be in attendance Thursday and wearing the same exact everything that I wore to the ECU game. Watch me.

I had the maroon sneakers on and we are 0 - 2 in them. Time to switch back to black on Thursday where we are 4 - 0 this year.

It wasn't just you. The wife made banana bread the morning before the Liberty game, and we won. Every time we ate banana bread, we won. She hadn't made banana bread, so she whipped some up Saturday during the game. We didn't get to eat it, and we lost. I looked at her and said this is all because we didn't have banana bread. We won't be having the Great Banana Bread Debacle in our house for the rest of the year.

We're 0-2 on days that I'm hosting a party at my house, 4-0 when I don't. My birthday is the 15th so I was planning on having a party on the 12th but we play GT that day so I guess that's not gonna happen.

Haters gonna hate, potatoes gonna potate, and hetzers gonna hetz

We are also 0-2 on days when we host a party. After the Orange bowl I said never again. Now this. Maybe its the combination of orange and a party, but we may never find out. My wife says I am a terrible host when we lose, and has renewed her position on no game day parties at the house.

Sometimes we live no particular way but our own

It's clearly French's fault. He said he doesn't make predictions on VT games and then let slide in the comments on the Syracuse preview piece that the Hokies would win.

Burn him at the steak.

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)..

No no, I need to share the blame in this as well. VT is 0-2 in the last 3 years when I have had a fall wedding and VT is playing an ACC opponent. Damn fall weddings.

all this talk reminds me of an xkcd. Too big to post here, but link below. Despite the evidence, I will never stream the game over sling.tv at a certain friend's house when we play Syracuse in the Carrier dome again. Because Science.

linky linky

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)..

Good example with the xkcd. There have been times where I refuse to drink a certain drink because it was not what I had ever had before a game, and we went on the lose. Sports Superstitions, they'll get after ya.

As I said in the other thread, we're 4-0 when I watch at home, and 0-2 when I watch elsewhere. Both of those elsewheres have been in Henrico. So, I don't know if it's bad juju from Henrico, or really good juju from home.

Also, the two times I've streamed the game from ESPNU on my phone while at work were for 2015 Duke and 2016 Syracuse. The good news is that I'm off for all of the rest of the VT games (including the prospective bowl game). If we go to Orlando, though, I'll have to get creative....

I'll work on my schedule better next year to avoid the ESPNU streaming trap.

I dunno, I watched the great 38-0 in Henrico so....

Hmm, Juju you say? Is that the same Juju that people were asking for a few years back?

I am 0-2 watching from home this year, Just adding to the evidence that we all need to get our collective heads out of our asses and quit screwing our team!! /s but for real im at the game thursday so we'll win!

I share the blame too, the only two games i havent gone to this year was Bristol and Syracuse, my winning presence wasnt there on saturday

They ask you how you are and you just have to say that you're fine when you're not really fine.

I'm partially to blame here too. I grabbed my maroon shirt that's 4-0 this season (unwashed for luck) but decided to spare my friends I was watching with the potential smell. I also decided that we wouldn't need luck against SU, so I switched to my 06 Orange Effect shirt before heading to my friend's place to watch the game.

Needless to say, I won't be wearing or washing the undefeated shirt for the rest of the season.

Fantastic post. I think the coaching staff will be able to channel the emotions of the team to prepare them well. Can't wait for Thursday!

We've got a long way to go and a short time to get there.

Love Coach Fu borrowing a line from Smokey and the Bandit.

Is it basketball season yet?

Great article ran. It seems like the team has let this on go and understand why it happened. Stay focused and beat the crap out of Miami. I really do hate Miami (Da PU)

The whole 'touches' deal is beyond me," Fuente said. "I don't subscribe to it, I don't really care. I'd like for us to run the ball efficiently. I'd for us to throw the ball efficiently. If that's 10 carries or 15 carries or 25 carries, I don't really care.

People are going to have to get over the touches issue fast if Fuente sticks around. I think a lot of people are still stuck on this.

Wet stuff on the red stuff.

Join us in the Key Players Club

its really not the touches, its how each back is used. Having Sam run in between the tackles doesn't seem to be working, that could be a lack of vision, speed, poor blocking, all the above. IMO Sam gains yards when he gets out and has 1 hole to hit and that's it.

We all knew Fuente used multiple backs but each back had a specific way they were used. Dorceus was the workhorse/do most things back. Cooper was the bruiser/goal line/short yardage back. Craft was the speedster/counter/option guy

I think the biggest issue is VT doesn't have a home run type of guy. I think McClease could have been that back but he got hurt. So now we're trying to stick square peg's in a round hole and it's not looking pretty

Right now we have 3-4 RB's and honestly I don't think Fuente knows what role each RB is best at. That's not a jab at him but like I said he's working with squares when he needs circles.

You have to have him carry the rock occasionally to set up the pass with him as well (which he is great at) otherwise when they see him in the game they will assume that we are swinging it out to him.

see I think the whole have to keep the defense honest is over valued in this offense... sam, travon, juice and shai have all been used a lot of different ways this year that I don't think you can key in on what each rb can do.

I do agree that he has to get touches but productive touches and running him 3-4 times right up the gut isn't what I would call productive for him or the offense.

I mean Cuse spread us out 5 wide and threw 3 yard slant patterns and 5 yard out routes all day and we couldn't stop that even though we knew/should have known what was coming.

Is the team applying for a medical redshirt for McClease?

McClease redshirted last year and I'm pretty sure it wasn't because he was injured. That would mean that he's not eligible for a medical redshirt unless he misses another season due to injury.

Yeah, it's always going to have it's detractors. When it's working and we win, everyone will be fine, if we lose and don't run the ball well and every rb got six carries, we're gonna hear about it again.

The question I am most curious to find out is if we had an all-world back, like Fournette or Dalvin Cook (keep in mind we are at least somewhat in the mix for big time rb's Devyn Ford and Ricky Slade the next few years) would guys like that consistently get 18-25 touches a game? Unlikely a top rb is going to go somewhere to get 7-10 carries a game.

I'm not overly concerned about this, but I am curious to see how this plays out over a few seasons if we encounter this issue.

I'd like to see Shai get more touches.

Anybody remember that guy?

Get your ass on the ground and we'll party

he's just buried and honestly wouldn't be shocked if *SPECULATION* he left after this year.

I'm thinking the same. Too bad too, he's looked good in his limited action.

Get your ass on the ground and we'll party

I heard he and Dwayne were talking about this after the game

Dwayne? As in Lawson? Transferring? No way I'm buying that

Get your ass on the ground and we'll party

Anyone think this will limit our success in recruiting stud running backs a la the Wilsons, Evans, and Williams's of the past? Maybe this was a better philosophy at Memphis but hurts you at a P5 school where there is the potential to recruit better?

Or is what I'm saying quite silly because an offense like GT's managed to attract Megatron?

Let's Go...

Wasn't Megatron pre triple option?

No. He was there during the triple option.

Exit light. Enter night. Enter the Hokies.

He was pre triple option, Demaryius Thomas was there for Triple Option but wasn't recruited for it.

Megatron went to NFL in 2007 draft along with AP.

Triple Option started the 2008 season.

Megatron was drafted in 2007. Paul Johnson didn't start coaching at GT until 2008. Maybe you're thinking of Demarius Thomas?

Edit: Note to self, always refresh before posting.

"Sooner or later, if man is ever to be worthy of his destiny, we must fill our heart with tolerance."
-Stan Lee

"Never half-ass two things. Whole-ass one thing."
-Ron Swanson

"11-0, bro"
-Hunter Carpenter (probably)

Boom, Ryan Dye - DRINK! Only if you're of age....I'm kidding, drink regardless

I lose. I'm thinking of Thomas. I'll take a big drink of lemonade, since I don't really drink lol.

Exit light. Enter night. Enter the Hokies.

Simply Lemonade I hope. None of this country time crap (I'm kind of pretentious)

Minute Maid, my friend.

Exit light. Enter night. Enter the Hokies.

Please tell me you're joking....

Exit light. Enter night. Enter the Hokies.

Don't let the haters get to you my friend! Just shake it off.

Minute Maid is terrible! There, I said it!

Exit light. Enter night. Enter the Hokies.

Minute Maid is terrible! There, I said it!

Another white bronco? The first one didn't go too far.

Exit light. Enter night. Enter the Hokies.

Technically, I like the Brisk pink lemonade the best, but it's sometimes harder to find than the Minute Maid version.

Exit light. Enter night. Enter the Hokies.

Y'all talking about Ice T.

Wet stuff on the red stuff.

Join us in the Key Players Club

READ THE SIGN THREAD, MAN

Lemonade Wars. The new burrito war.

If we had a back that deserved the lion's share of the touches it would be a non-issue. he hasn't had one here or at Memphis.

Interesting that he said he didn't know who's idea it was to have Motu run with the skilled players, and that it "certainly wasn't his"....

I must have missed this. What happened?

Wet stuff on the red stuff.

Join us in the Key Players Club

A reporter asked FU who's idea was it to have Moto do some drills with the DB's in practice, he said it wasn't his.

"War was always here. Before man was, war waited for him. The ultimate trade awaiting its ultimate practitioner.”~~Judge Holden

I think the implication was that he's running with skill players for conditioning not drills, since they have the more intense running workouts.

I honestly think we're going to get our butts handed to us this Thursday. My prediction is 27-6 Miami. Kaaya + Coley is going to run roughshod over our secondary.

Well this is a pretty downer, negative way to look forward to a game.

The Syracuse game was a reflection where the team is. We beat two bad football teams in ECU and BC. Then we got lucky when a hurricane stopped UNC's passing attack.

I think you forgot to switch to your "Heather Dinich" screen name.

"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

I laughed.

Yet the VT offense seemed to work well in that same hurricane. If Fedora (who really is not a great field coach) doesn't change his game plan then that's on him.

Wet stuff on the red stuff.

Join us in the Key Players Club

Evans had 75 yards passing and the entire team had 264 yards of offense, I wouldn't say the "VT offense seemed to work".

The hurricane completely negated UNC's biggest strength. It's basically like taking Lamar Jackson off of Louisville and then puffing your chest that you "stopped Louisville vaunted passing attack." Give me a break.

But what makes you think Miami is that much better than where we currently are as a team. They've done very little this season to suggest that they can come into our house on Thursday night and have their way with us. Sorry, but I don't think so.

You're underestimating Brad Kaaya. He's a tremendous quarterback. He's been overshadowed (and rightfully so) because of how good Jackson and Watson are playing this year but he's good enough to pick apart Foster's coverage schemes, especially if the defensive line cannot generate a consistent pass rush.

And two years ago they did "come into our house on Thursday night and had their way with us."

The Miami OL and Duke Johnson Jr. had their way with us. And my comment further down talks about this team and revenge.

Brad Kaaya is definitely a good QB, but he hasn't been playing great so far this year. He's been good, but not great. He's protected the ball fairly well (4 Ints). I just think these teams are actually pretty evenly matched, but Thursday night in Lane and the revenge factor from two years ago will tip the scales in our favor.

but not UNC and FSUs? who everyone else seemed to pick apart......

twitter @smithey_daniel
head scout BSP scouting specializing in north florida/ southern GA highschool football scouting

The mere fact that we executed against those teams offensively is a pretty good sign. In the past we would have failed to do so. Additionally, we did play like a good team in those wins. The defense wasn't as good as the numbers suggested going into last week, it happens, doesn't mean they are now absolutely awful. Our offense was bad last week, but you need to pump the breaks on the all out meltdown.

College football is crazy, Clemson SHOULD HAVE lost to NC State at home last week. A 33 yard field goal dead in the middle of the field, it is by pure luck that Clemson didn't watch their playoff hopes (maybe) die last saturday as well.

I will never, ever understand this mindset, prevalent among Hokies for as long as I've been one, and I assume prevalent among other fanbases as well, to discredit prior wins and prop up a bad loss as "the state of the program."

"I liked you guys a lot better when everybody told you you were terrible." -Justin Fuente

Because the last time we legitimately could have competed for a national championship, we lost to JMU.

And then went undefeated in conference play. So what's the point in focusing on the negative?

"I liked you guys a lot better when everybody told you you were terrible." -Justin Fuente

I mean, just like the rest of us I want Tech to get back in the national championship discussion. Losses over teams like Syracuse will implode those chances.

If we can win out and somehow upset Clemson in the ACCCG, I would be ecstatic and it would be a great sign we're heading down the right path. Unfortunately, I foresee a 7-5 or 8-4 finish and going to a mid-tier bowl. I'm not "focusing the negative", I'm being pragmatic.

If we can win out and somehow upset Clemson in the ACCCG, I would be ecstatic and it would be a great sign we're heading down the right path. Unfortunately, I foresee a 7-5 or 8-4 finish and going to a mid-tier bowl. I'm not "focusing the negative", I'm being pragmatic.

This is being pragmatic.

Your other posts essentially discrediting all of our current wins and throwing out the "we totally lose to UNC if it isn't raining" (we won by 31) and predicting our offense to score 6 points against an extremely young (but talented) Miami defense with three true freshman linebackers with an offense designed to take advantage of linebackers over pursuing and making reads, is not pragmatic.

I never said that we would have lost if wasn't for the rain...we definitely wouldn't have won by 31 though.

Miami's defense held FSU's offense to 20 points. I don't think it's unreasonable to think they would hold our offense to two field goals.

Our offense is better than the Noles' this season.

"I liked you guys a lot better when everybody told you you were terrible." -Justin Fuente

That formula is heavily based on per-play stats. Per-play stats are not the whole story, especially considering the tempo we are playing with this year.

Math also says Louisiana Tech and Western Michigan are two of the top ten offenses in college football, and that LOLUVa has a better offense than us.

Yes.

The values are adjusted for strength of schedule and down-weighted for "garbage time" (based on win probability).

Enough for me to give two shits about this metric.

"I liked you guys a lot better when everybody told you you were terrible." -Justin Fuente

If we're comparing how FSU has done to similar opponents: UNC let FSU score 35 in Tallahassee in clear weather. Our offense scored 34 on UNC in a hurricane.

Ok, they had almost 600 yards of offense during that game we had less than 300. It's not even close which offense I would rather have.

Interesting that efficiencies you posted show FSU being more efficient. Yet they had 600 yards and 35 pts and we had about 300 and 34 points. Sounds like, based on that game, VT Off is more efficient at turning yds into points. Just another perspective. Stats can always be skewed to support both sides of an argument/debate.

Look at the play by play of the FSU-UNC game and the UNC-VT game and tell me which offense you would rather have.

Rain

Turning yards into points

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)..

It is unreasonable to assume they hold us to two field goals. That is truly in no way reasonable based off how we have played this season.

maybe it's a single TD with a blocked PAT?

Or 3 safeties?

Just sayin. Don't put words in the guy's mouth :-P

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)..

Yeah, I'll gladly take a repeat of that season from here on out

And Boise St before that...We were never going to the BCS natty after that Boise loss, even if we ran the table with Auburn and Oregon going undefeated. But it doesn't matter now.

"War was always here. Before man was, war waited for him. The ultimate trade awaiting its ultimate practitioner.”~~Judge Holden

We would have been "in the discussion" if we didn't lose to JMU.

G-go Hokies...

The Orange and Maroon you see, that's fighting on to victory.

um, oh yeah. Me too. Totally,

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)..

The common thread between BC, ECU, and UNC is that all three of those teams have handed us a loss or two over the past few years. Our players were fired up and wanted revenge those games. Syracuse, well...

The good news is, the rivalry with Miami is ten-fold those other three and the game is in Lane!!

I'm expecting a big HOKIE win Thursday night. Jerod and the O will be humming. Foster won't make the same mistake twice, he'll be aggressive and trust his DB's to cover and trust his DL to get pressure.

ON IF THERE WERE ANY ISSUES OF PLAY CALLING OR INJURIES IN THE RUN GAME:

It seems like someone was trying to subtly get after why Travon wasn't getting more touches.

There was nothing subtle about it. The follow up question was about the "touches" topic.

Exit light. Enter night. Enter the Hokies.