Virginia Tech Ready for Belk Bowl Prep After Off Week, Ford Mum on NFL Prospects

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2016 ACC Coach of the Year Justin Fuente
Justin Fuente is off the recruiting trail and ready to kick start Virginia Tech’s bowl preparation for Arkansas.

It’s an odd week for Virginia Tech football.

The Hokies are coming off a week where the team didn’t practice and most of the coaching staff spent the majority of their week away from the facility on recruiting trips. Virginia Tech doesn’t play this weekend either, and players have to deal with final exams.

Head Coach Justin Fuente said on Monday that the time off was much-needed for the players.

“They do deserve time off. It has been a long season, a long process and we work pretty hard around here, but they do deserve some time off to get refreshed, but also, we need to find a way to set our focus on winning the ballgame,” Fuente said. “I feel good about our guys’ approach to it.”

Getting through final exams, a week off and then settling back into a normal practice routine shouldn’t take too long, but it depends on who you ask. Isaiah Ford doesn’t see it as a problem.

“Football has always been my safe haven,” Ford said. “It’s where I escape to kind of get away from everything and just relax.”

“Sometimes it takes a day or two to get people’s focus narrowed back in, but it’s just from having a little bit of time off,” Conte said. “To be honest, I think the time off is necessary to give people’s body’s a chance to recover from the season. It usually takes one or two practices, but it’s not hard to pull people in to what we’re trying to accomplish.”

Getting back into the rhythm isn’t any easier when you’re coming off of a disappointing loss. Just last week, Virginia Tech went to the wire with Clemson, a national title contender.

Andrew Motuapuaka said that he was still dealing with the loss until the first or second day of practice after the game. He believes that once the players make it through their finals, the team will coalesce and put all their efforts into bowl preparation.

“I think it’s been pretty tough, just altogether with guys moving on from the loss at Clemson,” Motuapuaka said. “I think once all the students leave, it’ll be easier for us to concentrate on what we’re really practicing for and getting 10 wins.”

This period is also an opportunity to give younger players a chance to get extra reps.

“We did it this weekend, carve out some time to get some reps for the young guys, carve out some time after practice for them to get work,” Fuente said. “We’ll eventually let them put the ball down and play a little bit, but I think there is a balance, in terms of preparing a team to win and also getting good work for young, developmental players that have been running plays off of cards for the better part of several months now.”

Fuente mentioned freshmen  Phil Patterson and Emmanuel Belmar as players who have impressed this season, despite redshirting.

“Belmar looks good running around. He doesn’t know what he’s doing right now, but that’s because he’s been over there running plays off a card for so long,” Fuente said. “He’s continuing to develop his body and he moves around really well.”

Fuente said that his players would not practice Monday or Tuesday, instead focusing solely on the gameplan and watching film. Wednesday, the Hokies will begin their practice schedule.

Fuente has built his bowl practice routine around former boss and mentor Gary Patterson, the head coach at TCU. Fuente worked under Patterson from 2007-2011 and has named him as a large influence on his coaching philosophy.

“Almost everything that we do in our program, the seeds were planted with me with Coach Patterson,” Fuente said. “Through the years, time changes things and situations change things, but I liked the way we prepared.”

Virginia Tech Hokies wide receiver Isaiah Ford (1)
Isaiah Ford (1) could easily be a high-round draft pick in next year’s NFL Draft.

Ford quiet on possible declaration for NFL Draft

As the 2016 season draws to a close, multiple Virginia Tech players face big decisions on their future. The Hokies have at least two players who are garnering serious high-round consideration in next year’s NFL Draft — Isaiah Ford and Bucky Hodges.

Ford declined to comment on questions concerning his future a few weeks ago and sang the same tune on Monday, saying he hasn’t filed paperwork with the NFL College Advisory Committee.

“I haven’t done any of that,” Ford said. “I haven’t really thought about it. We still have one more game with these seniors.”

Fuente said that he meets with players who are in these types of situations, just to make sure their full focus is on the task at hand.

“I meet with a lot of our players about various subjects,” Fuente said. “The centerpiece behind all of our conversations is there’s a time and a place for everything. Right now, it’s the time and the place for us to prepare for Arkansas and send our seniors out the right way.”

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7 Responses You are logged in as Test

  1. A little more info on this Razorback season for anyone interested:

    Auburn 56 Arkansas 3 Arkansas yielded a historic high of 543 rushing yards at Auburn.

    Then following a bye week; Arkansas 31 Florida 10 Arkansas yielded just 12 yards rushing in Fayetteville.

    Then the very next week: LSU 38 Arkansas 10 Arkansas yielded 490 yards rushing to LSU in a Fayetteville loss.

    Then the next week after that in Baton Rough: Florida 16 LSU 10

    Arkansas followed all this by closing the season by blowing a 17 point halftime lead at Missouri. The worst team in the SEC this year.

    Early in the year, Arkansas failed over a dozen times on several long drives in Dallas to get one yard inside the Texas A&M five yard line. The Aggies just loaded the box and the Hog O-Line was totally helpless. That all led absolutely directly to Bielema’s fourth straight loss to the Aggies. Bielema has never beaten a team the Razorbacks have historically dominated in the SWC. Petrino beat the Aggies three straight times right before the Bielema arrival.

    This all has many Hog fans rapidly growing sick of Bielema. Not all as down on him as me. Many are giving him one more year. However it better be a 9 win year.

  2. Don’t travel well at my age. Don’t even travel to the Fayetteville games often anymore. I do have close relatives in NOVA excited about this game. Yankees do alright in and around Little Rock but this state is a different rural animal 40 miles outside LR throughout. Most Yankees do not want to be there. These coaches I refer to probably just do not fit. Millions upon millions of dollars could well be their only concern. Bielema currently has about a $15 million dual buyout that Jeff Long the AD created. I have heard even higher buyout totals?? Long has been yearly rolling over that contract. Fans are wondering if Long will continue that practice?? Millions upon of not closely guarded millions thrown into the old woodpile has to be any bureaucrat types wet dream.

    The Razorbacks gave up a school record 543 total yards rushing at Auburn this season in a blow-out loss. The Hogs then had a bye week and held Florida to 12 yards total rushing for a big win in their next game in Fayetteville. LSU then blew out the Hogs in Fayetteville and went home to Baton Rough and lost to Florida. Figure all that out? Like I say, if the team that played Florida shows up at the Belk Bowl, watch out.

  3. Not pleased at all with Bielema as coach for the Hogs. He puts scholastic achievement above physical ability in regards to his recruiting. Hog players are kicked off the team for being repeat offenders if they miss classes and are a bit late for team meetings. The Hogs lose their depth to this junk while Saban retains his players even when they are caught in possession of stolen guns. All this while our player graduation rates are starting to rival Vandy. Bielema seems to be trying to teach us hick rube fans the value of an education over our silly fascination for college football. He makes $4.2 million yearly and that is his only real priority. He will go out on a rail when the newly renovated stadium is half full and luxury seats un-rented in 2018. I hope Jeff Long goes with him. Two damn Yankees that never belonged at Arkansas. Bielema even publicly refuses to fire his Yankee buddy DC who allowed those horrible defensive rushing stats that led to blow-outs all season. Totally uncompetitive blow-outs like I have never seen in decades of watching Razorback football.

    The Hogs can defeat VT. If the team that played Florida shows up. However they probably need the anthracite unis for motivation as silly as that sounds, will surely never be allowed to wear them. The Hog defensive coaches supply no motivation. So, all the Hokies have to do is stop the Hog offense several times to win. The junior QB hitting with quality receivers and the Hog tandem of SEC caliber RB’s can be very formidable. The O-Line was a huge weakness in the early season but did seem to gel with experience later in the season. The Hokie dual threat QB is your bread & butter path to victory. Those type QB’s ran for career high totals against this Hog defense all season. However this Hog defense returned 9 starters from last year when the defense was a whole lot better. The D-Line is two deep with a lot of seniors and upper classmen. That is why all the fans want the damn DC gone. But he is still on the recruiting trail for old fat Bielema.

    1. Wow – so I am thinking you really enjoyed this season? Will you be traveling to Charlotte to root Ole Brett on ?

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