Virginia Tech Hoping to Avoid Letdown vs. Duke

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Justin Fuente, Virginia Tech
Virginia Tech Head Coach Justin Fuente is well aware that Duke could be the kind of trap game similar to Syracuse.

Virginia Tech finds itself in a familiar situation with Duke on the horizon this Saturday, but the Hokies are hoping the result is much different than the last time around.

The No. 23 Hokies are 6-2 and in command of the ACC Coastal Division. Virginia Tech is coming off of a couple of big wins and must travel to play a team that has given them fits in the past. Stop me if you’ve read this before.

“I think we have a pretty good reference point for ourselves earlier in the season. The last time everybody was patting us on the back and telling us how good of a job we’ve been doing, we went up to Syracuse and got smacked around,” said Virginia Tech Head Coach Justin Fuente. “I think that’s a pretty clear reference point for our guys, in terms of the preparation and the intensity of which we’ll have to play. The margin for error is very small.”

Isaiah Ford said that the team is hoping to have learned from their past mistakes this season and continue to have good weeks of preparation leading up to games.

“Coach refers us to the little kid touching the stove,” Ford said. “Is he going to go back and touch it again or is he going to learn his lesson the first time? We want to be the ones who learned our lesson the first time.”

Duke hasn’t been an easy out for Virginia Tech in recent seasons. The Hokies have lost two of their last three games vs. the Blue Devils, both of those losses coming at home. Before David Cutcliffe’s arrival at Duke, the Blue Devils were an afterthought in football. Now, Cutcliffe has given the basketball school a viable, competitive football program.

“I think the job that he’s done at Duke is maybe underappreciated at a national level,” Fuente said. “I think he’s one of the fine coaches in our sport. He always has his team ready to play.”

Luckily for Virginia Tech, they have a couple extra days to prepare. After Virginia Tech’s win over Pittsburgh on Thursday, the Hokies had team meetings and lifts on Friday, an off-day Saturday and an extended practice on Sunday.

“That’s supposed to be the reward of playing a Thursday game,” Fuente said. “You kind of have to pack in your preparation, but you get rewarded for it on the back end. Because of us playing two straight Thursday games, we had to wait until this week to get to do that. We’ll give them a little bit of time, hopefully they’ll be fresh and they’ll know what to do by Saturday.”

Virginia Tech football
The Virginia Tech fan base has traveled well on the road this season, especially vs. Pittsburgh and North Carolina. The Hokies are on the road again this week vs. Duke.

Virginia Tech impressed with fan presence on the road

Save for the Syracuse loss, Tech fans have traveled well this season. With most of Virginia Tech’s road games within driving distance, the fan presence at road games has been noticeable.

“For me, obviously it’s my first year, to see how well we travel, we’re just getting off the bus and getting on the field to start the game,” Fuente said. “It was kind of odd last week. Usually they’re in one spot, last week they were kind of separated throughout the stadium. I’ve said this before, but it’s very nice to work at a place that really wants to support what your kids are doing on a weekly basis, whether they’ve got to drive a couple hours or not. Our kids certainly notice it, I know that.”

“Every game is a home game when you play for Virginia Tech,” Ford said. “Our fans travel and they travel well.”

Fuente quiet on injuries, Narduzzi’s antics

As is protocol with Virginia Tech, Fuente declined to give much information regarding injuries.

Fuente said on Monday that Jerod Evans, who was spotted wearing a walking boot after the Pittsburgh win, participated fully in Sunday’s practice and looked “good.” Fuente said there are no updates regarding defensive tackle Nigel Williams, who has missed the Hokies’ last two games.

Fuente was asked on Monday about his reaction to Pat Narduzzi’s sideline antics vs. Virginia Tech, but didn’t offer much.

“My boss and I have a clear definition of what we think the Virginia Tech head coach should be like,” Fuente said. “If other people at other places have different definitions, that’s totally up to them. It’s none of my business. I have no issue with any of that, until we discredit the effort that our kids put in. Then there’s some issue to be had with that.”

Narduzzi was pretty animated in his frustration with the officiating of Pittsburgh’s loss to Virginia Tech last Thursday. Narduzzi was critical of the referees following the game and even credited the Hokies’ wide receivers for pushing off of Panther defenders. Narduzzi was fined $5,000 for violations of the ACC Sportsmanship Policy, specifically for his public criticism of referees.

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28 Responses You are logged in as Test

  1. My son, his roommate and I will be there with press passes, so we’ll be on the sideline for warm-ups.

  2. Yes, I also have to say the turnout at Syracuse was very good. I’d say about 25% of the fans were VT. In my section it was about half.

    1. My family and a friend were there. At the start of the game (late arriving crowd), we all estimated that the ‘crowd’ was 35% VT.

      Now, as the SU fans filled in, I’d say it was 20% VT, maybe 15%.

  3. Again, Coach Fu, Buzz…..I love some Whit B. We have a YUGE winner folks! Bright Days ahead for the Hokies unless WB replaces Swafford…well then we could cheat like UNC….but with Whit, Buzz and Fu big thing gonna happen!!

  4. Me again…….

    as a correction, It’s the ESPN “who’s in and who’s out” of the playoff picture not the power index as I wrote before that questions the position of UNC vs VT…….

  5. I’ve written this before and I’m writing it again……
    Why does the ACC website have UNC in first place in the Coastal over VT, and the ESPN site has VT in first place Coastal with stats that support the rankings.
    Even the “power index” is questioning why UNC is ahead of VT in the AP and Coaches poll when VT beat UNC soundly and VT is clearly in first place in the Coastal and gives VT approximately 75% to win Coastal to UNC’s 25% chance……… Do I detect there is favoritism for UNC is the ACC and polls????

    1. It’s a good question, for which there is no answer. When Miami and GT were tied in the ACC, with Miami holding the head-to-head, they listed the Canes first. So it’s not an alphabetical-order thing.

      1. It’s because the UNC game was held in a hurricane. UNC players got extra credit in meteorology for that, which put them in first place.

    2. UNC is ranked higher because they are more balanced and have a great road win against FSU. Heels Defense keeps improving and they can run and pass and score as well as the top 4 teams in the conference. Hokies played great in Chapel Hill, and if they play well in November this team is going to be top 12 heading into ACC title game vs Clemson. So, media bias or not it all works out in the end.

    3. Losses to teams like Syracuse are costly. Both of UNC’s losses came at the hands of ranked teams. UGA was 18 when they beat the Tarheels and VT was 25. In a bizarre way that shows some respect for VT in that UNC’s second loss isn’t looked at as a fluke loss to a bad team. You simply cannot lose to an unranked Syracuse and expect people to let go of that. Everyone knows VT was the more talented team. People are holding back because unexplainable losses mean the team isn’t mentally prepared and that means the could drop another game to a better team like Duke or Georgia Tech. If VT keeps up it’s performance it will surely be ranked higher than UNC but two games were tech played poorly leave people skeptical. If it was all about stats there is no doubt VT should be ranked higher, but if it was all about stats the Pitt game should have been won 51-36 as our status suggested we should have started with 3 TDs and not 3 FGs.

    1. When you live in Chapel HIll and work in Durham, the UNC, Duke and NCSU are easy away games to make! See you Saturday!

  6. Let’s just hope the extra days we have to prepare for Duke aren’t being used to watch GT option film…..

    1. Yay! I’m glad you enjoyed this one (I’ve been rereading it in the last few days, too), and I can’t wait to hear what you think of Unclaimed. I do love Mark. Though I’m beginning to think Smite’s book is my favourite of the lot…

  7. Fu was, for him, a little salty in his comment “discredit the effort that our kids put in. Then there is some issue to be had with that.” Not hard to tell what that was about.

  8. I’m beginning to believe that Coach Fuente is the college football incarnation of Phil Jackson!

    1. I’ve been a Knicks fan and a fan of Phil Jackson since 1970’s, but as a coach, he only wins with very strong talent. Fuente doesn’t need a roster full of 1st round picks to win.

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