Hokies Camp Report: Fuente Announces Josh Jackson is QB1

To much less fanfare in year's past, Justin Fuente declared his starting quarterback.

[Mark Umansky]

The actual announcement wasn't that much of a surprise. How it was announced though? Now that's surprising. And while that sounds like a Geico commercial, I promise I'm not writing to sell insurance. Let's discuss Thursday's Virginia Tech press conference.

A Break From Tradition

The news we all knew was coming did, this afternoon courtesy of Justin Fuente.

"Josh [Jackson], barring any unforeseen circumstances, he's the starter."

In the past, there has been a press conference dedicated to announcing the starting quarterback. That's why when Fuente divulged such desired information nonchalantly as a response to a question about Quincy Patterson's reps, the media room did a double take.

But let's be honest. Nobody is shocked. If somebody tries to tell you otherwise, they've been living under a rock. Fuente, for the first time as the Hokies' head coach, will have a returning starter in the quarterback room. Jackson was 1 of only 16 freshman quarterbacks in the country who played meaningful snaps last season. He threw for 2,991 yards at a 59.6% completion rate with 20 touchdowns and 9 interceptions. Jackson also added 466 (4.57 per non-sack carry) yards and 6 TDs on the ground.

When thinking about previous quarterbacks coached by Fuente, Paxton Lynch immediately comes to mind. Looking at Lynch's stats year-by-year opens some eyes and might lend some insight into how Jackson might fare this season.

Freshman year: 2,056 yards, 9 touchdowns, 10 interceptions, 58.2% completion rate
Sophomore year: 3,031 yards, 22 TDs, 9 INTs, 62.7%
Junior year: 3,778 yards, 28 TDs, 4 INTs, 66.7%

Joel wrote a great statistical breakdown that analyzed quarterback progressions within Fuente's system. Go check it out.

TL;DR: Jackson could be in for a special year if his performance follows the patterns.

That's why this announcement comes without theatrics or debate. Yes, Jackson's status was up in the air for a little bit this offseason. But as soon as he was fully cleared, it was right to assume he would be the starter on September 3rd

And as Brian recently wrote, Jackson might be able to take advantage of some lower expectations and more talent around him this season. I'm not giving you a TL;DR for this one, that's a piece you should read from beginning to end.

While the starter is established, that doesn't mean the quarterbacks are just done with camp.

"Figuring out the other order of things, has been interesting in a good way," said Fuente. "Ryan [Willis] has a little bit of experience and is continuing to take reps and Hendon [Hooker] is much improved from the spring. ... And Quincy is still deserving of some reps. We're pretty meticulous in about how we're planning all of those out, both getting Josh ready to play and continuing to kind of sort through those other three guys ... figuring all that stuff out is what we're sorting through right now."

That's a long quote, but I think it's important to include all of it to give some context into what's going on. With Jackson established as the starter, it sounds like the next step for the coaching staff is to figure out the main backup while also taking advantage of the new redshirt rule.
This season, Patterson, or anyone else eligible for a redshirt, may play up to 4 games without burning it. I anticipate Patterson taking advantage of his 4 game allotment, as a way of getting real game experience. We won't see a massive amount of the 6-4, 236 pound Chicago product this season. Willis could be a reliable backup, but it sounds like Hooker is developing nicely as well.

"I'm really pleased with him [Hooker], you can tell he put quite a bit of work in this summer," said Fuente. "He's reaping some of those benefits."

To be honest, I've been more interested in who our QB2 will be than who our QB1 was going to be. That still holds true. With Jackson now inked into the starting position, my attention moves to that QB2 competition.

Defensive Line Depth Details

Fresh off a scrimmage, Charley Wiles stepped through the nitty gritty of the defensive line.

Vinny Mihota, who bulked up to 297 pounds and slid inside from DE to DT, performed pleasingly in Tech's second scrimmage. Mihota suffered a left knee injury against Pitt last season.

"I was really, a little concerned going into the last scrimmage, but then he moved around good," Wiles explained. "We limited his work, and he was starting to get about 50% of the work. I'm talking like good-on-good, then we got up to 75%, and then he played 19 plays in the scrimmage and I was pleasantly surprised how well Vinny moved around.

"A lot of that has to be mental too. That you trust putting that foot in the ground and playing ball again. He's down a nice job with rehab. Now it's really getting into good football shape. He did all the running this summer, but he missed some of the team good-on-good stuff, but he's coming along."

Wiles also praised defensive end Houshun Gaines' all-around performance thus far this camp.

"He's having a dynamic camp," said Wiles. "He brings a lot of energy to our practices and really to the meeting room. House [Gaines] loves football, he really does. He's got a great football IQ. He watches film with a purpose. He's really good for the younger guys with the way his approach in our meetings. He asks a lot of really good questions, and we talk ball between each other, and it's good for the young guys. He's very much into it. I really like the way he's evolved. He's one of our leaders, no question."

But in a broader sense for the defensive line, Wiles was also encouraged.

"I was real pleased with how we played in that scrimmage the other day. Our young ends continue to improve," Wiles said. "That includes Eli Adams and of course Tyjuan [Garbutt]. [Nathan] Proctor got hurt a little bit, just an ankle, I mean he's going to be fine, but he didn't get to play the other day. So that allowed Eli to get a lot of reps, Tyjuan to get a lot of reps ... Jarrod Hewitt kind of took over the scrimmage a little bit, at times, did some really good things. Looked at Jarrod and saw that quickness that we had recruited."

Odds and Ends

Again Fuente mentioned TE James Mitchell's name when asked about freshman that are standing out during fall camp.

"The guy that continues to get better that we're still trying to figure out James Mitchell," said Fuente. "When you think about coming from Southwest Virginia playing quarterback, wide receiver, and free safety, and then go put your hand in the dirt and try to play tight end, his improvement on an almost daily basis has been noticeable."

Fuente also said that Dax Hollifield will play in "some capacity", but I feel that had been much more of a given going into this season.

Fuente quickly touched on the kicking competition, saying that both sophomore Brian Johnson and redshirt freshman Jordan Stout are more than capable. Fuente reflected on the possibility of having two kickers, one for short distance and one for long, but didn't seem all too keen about it.

Zohn Burden shared his thoughts for why the Hokies had success running the ball against Oklahoma State. Tech busted out and rushed for 248 yards. Against the trend, the running backs shouldered much of the load (Deshawn McClease 124 yards, Steven Peoples 56 yards, and Jalen Holston 12 yards).

"We were more downhill in the Oklahoma State game," said Burden. "In the pistol, and H-Back in front of us a lot. I think just Steven, his presence in that game, being able to hit it downhill and punch those guys in the mouth, and then Deshawn being able to bounce it outside and Jalen as well to break some tackles outside, is just kind of like a 1-2-3 punch, I think. And we want to continue to carry that over."

That may provide some insight into how Virginia Tech's allotment of carries plays out this fall.


Hearing Hewitt is having a good camp is the biggest thing for me. We need the back up DTs to be ready.

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

I like it. Nothing but good news here. Wiles being optimistic about the d-line, Hooker showing that his underwhelming spring may have been left in the past, and a freshman (Mitchell) who we really don't need due to considerable depth still working his way into the conversation I think is very telling of his potential. Absolutely no bad news to come out of camp so far (knocks on wood).

I like it. Nothing but good news here.

Devil's advocate - did you expect to hear anything bad?

Have you been here this offseason? I'd be more surprised if he expected to hear anything good

Ask me no questions, and I'll tell you no lies

This offseason been like

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

Im a bit concerned bout wear and tear on Mihota's knee. The trenches are no joke, especially on a knee. We need DT depth ASAP.

Pain is Temporary, Chicks Dig Scars
Glory is Forever, Let's Go Hokies!!

Fuente, for the first time as the Hokies' head coach, will have a returning starter in the quarterback room


Never Forget #1 Overall Seed UVA 54, #64 UMBC 74

I can feel my optimism starting to peak. This happens every year. Just over 2 weeks to go, so I'm right on time.

Labor Day can't come fast enough.

Labor Day can't come fast enough.

Shoot, bring me next weekend.... Hawaii vs. Colorado St... COLLEGE FOOTBALL IS BACK.

Bleeding burnt orange and chicago maroon

YEP! Already handicapping 10:30pm kickoff Mountain West Conf. football games and it's not even week 1 yet. #ProudDegenerate

Have we heard anything about Hill?

"And guess what, you've wandered into our school of tuna and we now have a taste of lion." -Allen Gamble, The Other Guys

This question came to mind after reading Wiles' responses. He threw a lot of names out there, but not Hill. At the end of last season I was most excited about Hill and Ricky this year.

"It's time to go play Virginia Tech Football longer and harder than anybody else in America!!" -- Justin Fuente
"I put a brick in Sacksburg today." -- Cam Phillips

He talked about Hill. I watched it live and someone asked specifically. It was coach speak but he said good things.

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

Somebody help me think about this, because, while I was fully expecting Jackson to be the starter, I was not expecting it to be settled so soon. Why is this good news?

I don't think it is particularly close between JJ and the others. If that's the case, then let's get to focusing on QB1.

FSU is like 20 days away.

First "focus police" sighting of the 2018-19 season!

Because JJ needs to get all the first team reps

Why would it not be good news?

If a tree falls in Scott Stadium does it make a sound?

Because it means we may not have as much behind him as we'd all hoped.

What does him being named starter and not having as much behind him have to do with each other?

The oringinal question was 'why isn't this good news?' I'm speculating, but because the decision was made so quickly could be why. If HH or QP, who we know are more athletic with bigger arms than JJ, aren't in a position to defer a decision on QB1 any longer, they may not be as game-ready as some may hope.

So instead of assuming that JJ won the job by improving you assume that his backups aren't game ready?

You're the one making assumptions. I'm trying to offer clarity into the OPs thought process (which I tend to agree with) which he confirmed below.

Pretty much this. I really want JJ being the starter already to be a mark of his improvement and of the team's responsiveness to him and his leadership. A more skeptical view is: HH/QP despite having more natural ability aren't ready to challenge him.

Speaking TKP-eese: does this news reflect the JJ hype-train picking up steam, or the other hype-trains slowing down?

Regardless: GO HOKIES!!

I would say neither. We have an experienced incumbent QB and a 2 younger QBs. I expect QP to be our starter at some point but he is a true freshman. Fuente doesn't value raw ability nearly as much as expected outcomes and right now, JJ can still deliver more expected outcomes.

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

"If you have two quarterbacks, you have none." Better to get any sort of QB controversy out of the way. We have an established starter who beat Hooker for the job last summer and has had an entire year to improve, and the other option is a true freshman who has only been on campus for 2-3 months. I don't see what the big deal is in declaring JJ as the starter.

Counterpoint: MV7 sat behind Al Clark, Nick Sorensen, and Dave Meyer in 1998.

Not comparing QP to MV, just pointing out that even generational talents usually need a redshirt year. JJ is (at worst) a capable starter, and it's still too early to know what we've got in QP.

"Those who jump into the void owe no explanation to those who stand and watch."

A few counterpoints here:

a.) Beamer promised to Reamon that he would redshirt Vick;
b.) Nobody thought Vick was a 3-and-done type of guy at that point;
c.) The new redshirt rule could have an impact on QP this year;
d.) Please don't mention 1998 again.

Yep. We needed Vick but Frank, being Frank, kept his promise to Reamon and held Michael out. Wonder how that would have gone if the new 4 game rule had been in force back then?

Edit: Just wanted to add, we knew what we had in Vick, we knew he could play right away. He didn't sit because he wasn't the best QB we had.

Reel men fish on Wednesdays

Ehhhh, I think there were high hopes for a healthy and senior Al Clark.

Unfortunately we never saw Clark healthy after that Miami game in week 3.

You're not wrong there. A healthy Clark with his experience would have been hard to sit. Healthy.

Reel men fish on Wednesdays

Did you see the good news today

Embarrassing post.

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

I admit my wording was off, my fault, but we did get an open QB competition

Josh Jackson 8/16 151 9.4 2 1 61.5
Ryan Willis 9/18 131 7.3 1 0 86.8

If JJ can get the ball out quickly and move better in the pocket he will improve on last season. Some of that comes with maturity and experience, so there is hope there.

He gets in trouble when he tries to extend a play, and he isn't great throwing on the move.

"Dick to Hyman? DICK TO HYMAN!" - Guy in Lane Stadium crowd when Richard Johnson hit Josh Hyman on reverse pass in 2004.

I think just Steven, his presence in that game, being able to hit it downhill and punch those guys in the mouth, and then Deshawn being able to bounce it outside and Jalen as well to break some tackles outside, is just kind of like a 1-2-3 punch, I think.

1-2-3 punch?! That's unheard of! wondering what that would look like in a real fight:

or maybe:

Sounds like more running back by committee. Would love to see a dominant back...more reps to one guy. Get him in the groove.



Read a story that the stuntman had been practicing his moves for weeks before the last minute shift to being shot from the sword/whip fight. Feel a little bad for him.

Feel a little bad for him.

Naaah. He's got a great story to tell at cocktail parties for the rest of his life. In fact, it's a hell of a lot better than, "Yeah, it was a really tough shot. I had to practice for *weeks* to get ready for it."

If you're not sure if my comment warrants a "/s", it probably does.

I just love the backstory that Harrison Ford was sick , and did not feel like fighting, so they just shot him instead. Movie gold right there.

An additional piece to the story I've heard is that Harrison Ford ad-libbed it, and the stuntman played along perfectly, and they decided to keep the take. Not sure if that's true or not.

Your version is exactly how I've heard it as well. Just like in Empire Strikes Back he rejected Lucas' script and improvised with "I know" instead of "I love you too."

"That move was slicker than a peeled onion in a bowl of snot." -Mike Burnop

I have an 8-year old who dresses up like Indiana almost daily and has me help him reenact this scene.

And don't you dare tell him you're too busy or don't have time right now to do it.

Leonard. Duh.

he "has me help him" reenact this scene

Mm. Think about that for a second.


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

Once we see an RB that blocks consistently well, you'll probably find he gets most of the reps. But rare to see teams *not* doing RB by committee anymore.

VT '10, Born & Raised in the 804.
Rockin the Bakken.
“When life deals you lemons, pick ‘em up and chuck ‘em at Gritty.”

So I'll be the first to admit that I think QP plays this year with the new redshirt rule. I know a lot of ppl think Willis and Hooker (whichever is QB2) should get playing time instead of QP with limited reps avaliable against the blowouts we should end up after the FSU game.

But I think Fuente confirmed essentially that QP will be given reps along with others hat are on the bubble to play this year and wouldn't in other years.

Fuente on the new redshirt rule:

"We kind of put guys in three categories as we move through camp and move through the season. One being, they're not ready to play, two being they're on the bubble and three being 'Play them and let's go.'"

"It has created more conversation for those bubble guys in terms of how we're going to handle that. Hopefully, we'll gain some more redshirts on some of those guys – we'll see in the long run but it certainly could affect Quincy (Quincy Patterson) in his situation as it could across the board. We're going to probably, I'm not going to put any numbers on them because I don't know them, we'll probably play quite a few young guys this year. For us in particular I think it will be an ongoing discussion throughout the year. "


There is no doubt in my mind that we will see all 4 guys on the field in some capacity this season. Assuming JJ doesn't get hurt, and that he improves at least slightly on last year's performance, JJ will get all non-garbage-time reps unless Fuente brings back the Wild Turkey package with HH or something.

My hunch is that QP will get significant garbage-time reps in the first 2 blowouts we have, before sitting until late in the year to save his other 2 redshirt-rule appearances in case he's needed. HH and Willis will split the rest of the garbage-time reps.

My hunch is that QP will get significant garbage-time reps in the first 2 blowouts we have

Early 4th quarter reps in Doak Campbell will be a great experience for QP

'Its easy to grin, when your ship comes in, and you've got the stock market beat,
but the man worthwhile, is the man who can smile, when his shorts are too tight in the seat'

I like the way you think.

Pain is Temporary, Chicks Dig Scars
Glory is Forever, Let's Go Hokies!!

If you're not sure if my comment warrants a "/s", it probably does.

I'm real excited about the DEs. Sounds like we have a bunch of talent there. I really hope we have the horses at DT.


Reports are coming out now from the "Anybody but JJ" camp. This is just devastating news. Several members interviewed reported sensations of disappointment and frustration, exclaiming: 'Have the coaches just given up, do they even pay attention to star ratings!?.' Many wonder if the campaign will be able to survive this sort of revelation.

I wonder what they would do if they found out even as he struggled down the stretch last year, he still had the 3rd highest QBR in the ACC?


If you look at ACC play only, he was 10th out of 14.

John Wolford WAKE 160.8
Lamar Jackson LOU 141.5
Chazz Surratt UNC 136.5
Kelly Bryant CLEM 130.1
Ryan Finley NCSU 126.8
Malik Rosier MIA 126.5
Max Browne PITT 124.1
James Blackman FSU 121.6
Eric Dungey SYR 120.6
Josh Jackson VT 119.6
Kurt Benkert UVA 118.7
TaQuon Mashall GT 107.7
Daniel Jones DUKE 102.3
Anthony Brown BC 97.7

Thanks, I feel misled by the original comment. It read as if saying that his numbers while struggling were still 3rd-best in the conference.

This paints a picture much more in line with what I was expecting to see.