Tech Talk Live Notes: Wrestling’s Kevin Dresser Previews Season, Justin Fuente Talks Pitt

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With Virginia Tech playing their second-consecutive game on a Thursday night this week vs. Pittsburgh, Tech Talk Live was again moved to Tuesday night. Virginia Tech football Head Coach Justin Fuente as always appeared on the show, as did Virginia Tech wrestling Head Coach Kevin Dresser. Here are the highlights.

Kevin Dresser

Do kids have sense of urgency heading into this season

“Well, that’s a great question because that’s the one thing that worries me. It’s kind of hard for me to read our team. We’ve got some quiet personalities. Being an individual sport you have individual personalities, so I kind of read body language and see who does have that sense of urgency. I think you have to have a sense of urgency. Some of these guys are playing possum really well with me right now, so I don’t know if we’re ready or not for November 5th, so we just need to roll it out there and go.”

Getting to perennial national title contender level

“Well we started out, our first year we were 81st in the nation, then we went to 79th in the nation, then we got into the 30s, then we broke into the 20s and we’ve been in the top 10 the last five years now. I can tell you, it gets harder and obviously, this year being in the top five, getting a trophy and getting fourth was difficult, so it’s hard to go from fourth to first, but we preach and I preach, my staff preaches, doing hard things is the only way to be great. If we’re going to strive to be great, we’ve got to accept hard things, and this is going to be hard to go from four up.”

What Penn State has done to remain a powerhouse

“Well first, they’re in a great wrestling state, the state of Pennsylvania. I don’t ever want to say recruiting is easy, but it’s easier for them. Then, when you get the ball rolling, recruiting is easier. They’ve got a great coaching staff, they’ve got great facilities, they’ve got the whole thing going. I can tell you, they do have a headstart because high school wrestling in Pennsylvania is superior to just about everybody. That’s not taking anything away from other states, but if you want to see how tough high school wrestling is in Pennsylvania, go to the state tournament in March and see how many Division I college coaches are there, and everybody’s there because everybody wants those guys.”

Ticket sales and promotions for Moss Arts Center events

“Yeah, I think we’re ahead of ticket sales. I know all these diehards here and I know just about all of them, they told me they bought their ticket, so I don’t need to preach to the choir, but anybody listening, I think we’re around 400 after we get all of our recruits, our faculty and staff, everything in, so there’s not a lot of tickets. That’s a good thing. I think it seats about 1,200 and if you haven’t been to the Moss Arts Center, it’s the day after the Georgia Tech game so I know we’re going to have a lot of Hokies in town. It’s a great venue and get out and see it. I can’t wait to get back in there.”

Logistics and experience of wrestling inside Moss Arts Center

“Well imagine going to a theater in New York City and they slap a wrestling mat on the stage, throw two guys out there, one after another in warrior-like fashion and the lights are down, the music is loud. It’s just a great atmosphere. They’ve got the stacked booths on the side. I think this will be our sixth match at the Moss Center and they’ve kind of gotten it down to an art. They’re really good at putting it together and the staff over at the Moss is unbelievable. They’re ready and waiting.

Kevin Dresser, Virginia Tech
Kevin Dresser leads an experienced and talented team heading into this season.

Expectations and thoughts heading into season

“We’ve got some real strong individuals coming back. To be All-American at the Division I level, you had to place in the top eight in your weight class. We’ve got six guys that are All-American coming back. (Joey) Dance wasn’t an All-American but he was the year before and he’s currently ranked 2nd in the nation. When you don’t All-American and they throw you in 2nd the next year, it’s shows the kind of respect they have for Joey Dance, starting his senior year out. We’ve got a young man who was a freshman at 165, David McFadden, that tore his ACL on the first day of the NCAA Tournament and placed 6th two days later, so that gives you an idea of how tough David McFadden is, but unfortunately we’re still recovering from that ACL, so he’s probably a redshirt this year. We’ve got Jared Haught coming back, who’s currently ranked 3rd in the nation, Ty Walz is ranked 2nd in the nation, Zach Epperly is ranked 2nd in the nation, Solomon Chisko is ranked 2nd in the nation. I think that’s it, there’s a lot of them, so we’ve got a good nucleus coming back.”

Justin Fuente

How young defensive linemen stepped up in absence of Ken Ekanem and Nigel Williams vs. Miami

“Well I’m really proud. It’s almost like that was the game we had been talking about for months now, and there will be more in the future, but we’ve known for some time that Ken Ekanem and Woody Baron and Nigel were very good football players. The challenge for us was how well can we develop the other guy, because there is going to come a time when those younger players are going to have to come forward and play at the same level as the proven commodities. Charley Wiles, our defensive line coach, deserves a tremendous amount of credit for continuing to develop those guys. Trevon (Hill) played admirably for Ken. Ken was a big loss, he’s a very good football player. Then you got to see our inside guys continue to play well, getting some of those guys who have played quite a bit starting roles, and it was rewarding to see that pay off.”

Success of Woody Baron vs. Miami

“Well, I’ll tell you what, I know this. I’ve gone through a spring and a two-a-days with Woody trying to watch our guys block him and I don’t know if I can figure out why nobody seems to be able to block him. I think a part of it is, he is such an instinctive and intelligent football player. If he’s getting back-blocked, he knows how to spin out of it or what to do. He’s obviously got a lot of experience, but he’s just a crafty football player. It’s really nice, I said this at the press conference the other day, it’s nice to watch other people not being able to block him either. It makes you feel a little bit better. As good of a football player as he is and as well as he’s playing, the accolades he earned for last week’s performance was fantastic, he’s even a better person. I mean just incredibly intelligent and soft-spoken and really mild-mannered young man that has a bright future in whatever endeavor he chooses.”

Experienced Pittsburgh offensive line

“It’s probably the best offensive line we’ve played against, the most athletic, the biggest and the most physical, combined with a senior quarterback that’s done a great job handling the game, an explosive running attack. They do a great job with their scheme, in terms of making it almost, I’m not going to go as far to say it’s the same, but almost like an option attack. They do a great job with their motions and with their fly motions and they’ve got an electric guy, you guys watch the game, he’s going to go back and forth. He’ll run two or three miles back and forth across that field during the game, and you don’t know when he’s got the ball, so it makes you play your gap and your man and be incredibly fundamentally sound, all the while with some very skilled players. They’ve put up really good numbers. It starts with running the football for them, they’ve been incredibly efficient at it.”

Similarities between Boston College and Pittsburgh on defense

“Yeah, the scheme’s a little bit different but I would say their general philosophy is similar. It comes from the same general tree, if you will, that they’re going to load the box and do everything they can to keep you from running the ball a single inch. That’s literally how they approach it. They challenge you to try and make plays down the field or find ways to kind of eke out a living. If you look at them statistically, there’s a couple ways to interpret them. They’re top five in the country in run defense and they haven’t been as good in pass defense. Part of that I think is their schedule. They played Oklahoma State, who’s very good at throwing the football and very talented on the outside. They’ve also played North Carolina, who’s very good at throwing the ball, which I think has perverted those statistics slightly. They certainly will challenge you up front to find ways to run the football, then you got to be able to make plays on the outside.”

Thoughts on Pittsburgh quarterback Nathan Peterman

“Obviously, when they’re running the football, he continues to be efficient and make plays. There’s no such thing as just a game manager at quarterback. You either make plays or you don’t, and this young man does make plays when he’s called upon to do those things. He values the football, takes care of the ball and seems to me, just from watching him, be in total control of what’s going on, in terms of directing people and running their offense.”

Joey Slye Virginia Tech
Joey Slye’s (46) ability to boot kickoffs through the endzone could help Virginia Tech neutralize Pittsburgh’s Quadree Henderson.

Importance of Joey Slye and Mitchell Ludwig vs. Pittsburgh’s Quadree Henderson

“Yeah, you’re exactly right. Mitchell’s got to get hang time. We’ll sacrifice some yards for hang time, because (Henderson) is electric in the return game. They do a great job schematically and he makes people miss. So we’ve got to get great hang time, even if we sacrifice a few yards, then Joey, obviously if he can kick it out of the endzone, that’d be nice, but we have to prepare our guys as if he’s not going to. That’s the thing you’ve got to guard against is relaxing, because Joey’s kicked however many, three or four, out of the endzone. You just never know when that sucker’s going to go out or he misses it just a little bit, but we’d love for Joey to boot those suckers out as many times as he can. It’s just like taking a ball out of a guy’s hands. Defensive coaches talk about not letting whoever it is beat them, by taking the ball out of their hands, it’s the same thing on kickoff. You’d love to be able to negate that, you never know though. Maybe wind, but we’ve got to do a great job of preparing.”

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10 Responses You are logged in as Test

  1. Glad to see an article on wrestling. I don’t think very many Hokies realize to what heights Tech wrestling has risen. Just amazing. They deserve enormous credit. We’ve got some big time coaches here now: Dressler, Williams, Fuente. Hokie Nation is looking fine.

  2. I don’t like wrestling. However, I have known and liked Elise Yates Epperly. I first met her when I was a substitute teacher and she was in high school and later knew her as her rural letter carrier. You fans might remember her sons. She pretty much created Christiansburg wrestling which of course drew coach Dresser. Oh and by the way, she is a wonderful person.

    1. Went to school with Elise. You would not be Mr Lloyd by any chance would you? Wrestling is awesome and I have been fortunate enough to teach Coach Dresser’s children. Wonderful family.

          1. You were always our favorite substitute because you were the coolest guy around! I believe I remember the finger nails on the chalkboard. It has been over 30 years ago. Hope you are doing well!

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