Tech Talk Live Notes: Winning at All Costs, Field Position and a Look at Miami

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Virginia Tech football takes on Miami this Saturday, and head coach Justin Fuente previewed the matchup, while also addressing other topics on Monday night’s Tech Talk Live. Here are the highlights.

Justin Fuente

How holding a lead heading into third quarter was a bigger advantage than normal

“Yeah, I had some thoughts about taking the ball to start the game. I really did, but quite honestly, if I had known for certain what the weather was going to be — I knew it was going to rain, but I didn’t know what extent and all those sorts of things — I felt like because I didn’t know crystal clear, exactly what was going to happen, I still felt like starting the game off with our best unit, our defense, if given the choice.

“I thought the biggest thing was the touchdown right before the half. We elected to not go for it on fourth down and about four, we were around the 40-yard-line or whatever it was, under two minutes left and a couple timeouts, and I kind of wanted to go for it again there, but if we didn’t get it, I didn’t want to give them a shot with a short field, and have them hit one pass and then all of a sudden, they’ve got some momentum. So, we went ahead and punted it deep, pinned them deep, the defense did a great job getting a stop, then they got a penalty that stopped the clock, which gave us a bit more time. Then they punted it to us, we got a good return there, and then hit two passes and found Sean Savoy in the end zone. To get that lead right there, in retrospect, like at the time I felt good about it, but I didn’t know exactly what was going to happen in the second half, and we came out of the locker room for the second half and it’s pouring down rain, it makes you feel even better about that turn of events there. To get up on them and have a little bit of a cushion, and kind of affect how you want to manage the game a little bit the rest of the way out.”

Importance of winning the field position battle this season

“Just because of the makeup of our team for this year — there’s no secret. Last year, we were more explosive offensively with those guys on the outside. The makeup of our team this year, in my estimation, we’re better on defense. Probably not as explosive, but at times more efficient offensively, we’re playing well on special teams. We’re going to have to do all of those things to give ourselves a chance to win games. Obviously playing great defense, winning the field position, covering kicks, doing a great job in our own return game and then taking care of the ball offensively, so if we don’t score we still have an opportunity to flip the field, and continue to peck away at that cumulative effect we talk about every week.”

Not have an allegiance to winning games a certain type of way

“That was one of the first things Bud (Foster) and I talked about. ‘Like Bud, I know I have a background on the offensive side of the ball, but I have a big-picture perspective of what we’re trying to accomplish.’ I think working for Gary Patterson, a defensive-minded head coach, at TCU, really helped me with that. It helped me structure the offseason, it helped me structure our practice plans, centered around not just scoring points, but trying to develop a mentality amongst our team that is singular. I really do not care about any of those numbers, other than finding a way to give us the best chance to win. Ultimately, my responsibility is, for our kids that work their tail off, to put them in the best position to have success, and they get to celebrate and get to enjoy the experience. It shouldn’t matter to me what the actual statistics are, or it should be secondary to find a way for these kids who work so hard, to have success and celebrate.”

Virginia Tech football
Defensive end Houshun Gaines (11) registered three tackles and a tackle for loss vs. Duke on Saturday. (Photo by Ivan Morozov)

Development of defensive end Houshun Gaines

“Yeah, (Gaines) is continuing to get better, just like Trevon Hill. I’ve been pleased with those guys, continuing to work hard. They both enjoy football, they enjoy showing up and working, and playing in the game, and they’re giving us a little more depth there. We’ve talked, kind of at length, about the need to continue to develop those guys at end and at defensive tackle, and it’s been nice that (Gaines) has stepped forward and is becoming a guy that Coach (Charley) Wiles and all of us feel comfortable with.”

Preliminary thoughts on Miami’s defense

“Well, I think you see what Miami should look like. A bunch of big, athletic guys that are well-coached and understand their scheme, and are playing at a high level. They haven’t given up very many points. I think they’ve got very good players all over the place, but the strength is in their front seven, in my opinion. Those three linebackers are all in the same class, they’re all good players, their numbers are really close together, their body types are kind of similar. Then on the defensive line, they’ve got some big athletic guys that aren’t afraid to get after the quarterback.”

View on the Miami-Virginia Tech series and how it affects ACC

“Well, I don’t have a lot of history with it beforehand. I know what I’ve seen, I’ve been on the field with them one time, here in Blacksburg last year, and I thought our guys played a really good game. We had a short week to prepare, it was a Thursday night, and I think our guys got ready to play really good football in all three phases of the game. We have to do that again. I see them as a very talented group with tradition. Coach (Mark) Richt is obviously very accomplished in his many years at Georgia, and as a coordinator at Florida State before that. Our guys understand what we’re getting into. We understand who we’re going up against, where we’re going, what it’s going to take to give ourselves a chance to win. I think it’s good for the ACC. Not that it’s bad if other teams are in this situation, I’m certainly not saying that, but I think on our side of the conference, it’s up to us to kind of write our own story. This is another opportunity for Virginia Tech.”

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4 Responses You are logged in as Test

  1. It still excites me to have Bud’s defense, and a new offense. What is even more exciting is the knowledge that the offense is going to get better and better with time. When all the right guys get to know and execute the system, VT will consistently be at the top of the conference. Fuente has that vision, and in short order, VT will be near the top of the class on a regular basis.Go Hokies!

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