Virginia Tech Notebook: Fuente Reflects on Decisions, Pimpleton Leaves and More

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Virginia Tech football
Virginia Tech head coach Justin Fuente (left) was bested by Georgia Tech and Paul Johnson (right) last weekend. (Photo by Ivan Morozov)

Before diving into today’s notebook, be sure to get caught up on all of TSL’s coverage from this weekend. Be sure to ready my game recap from Saturday and my game notes from Sunday, and if you’re a TSL Pass Subscriber, go read Chris Coleman’s Sunday column as well.

Also, the ACC announced on Monday that Virginia Tech and Virginia will kick off on Nov. 24 at 8 p.m. The game will be televised on ESPN, and will be the sixth night game of the 2017 season. This weekend, Virginia Tech’s game vs. Pittsburgh will start at 12:20 p.m. on the ACC Network.

Fuente understands fans’ frustration after loss to Georgia Tech

After Saturday’s game, Virginia Tech fans took to social media and message boards to voice displeasure with certain decisions and play calls in the Hokies’ 28-22 loss to the Yellow Jackets. Head coach Justin Fuente caught a lot of flak for his decision to attempt a fourth down conversion deep inside Georgia Tech territory, his decisions to try a couple of two-point conversion attempts, and Virginia Tech’s two play calls on third and fourth and 1-yard on their final possession. Tech attempted two deep throws on both of those downs, and neither converted.

Fuente, who still can lead the Hokies to their second-straight 10-win season, understands that fans are going to be upset when things don’t work out. He said at his Monday press conference that even he second guesses himself after each game.

“The thing I would tell people, is that I understand that. I get it,” Fuente said. “It’s a short trip. It’s a short trip from the penthouse to the outhouse, and I get that. The thing I would tell you is we have thoughts and reasons for those things and when they don’t work, then they were wrong. When they don’t work, and we can own that. I can handle that. I understand that. If they all come out working well, then we’ll move on down the road. What you can’t do, is allow yourself to do anything other than try your best to make the decisions that are best for the team. So, do we look back and talk and ponder, reflect and second-guess ourselves, absolutely. Every single game, every single call, we talk about all of those things. And there’s plenty of people that do that for us too, and that comes with the job. I get it.”

Fuente’ process of evaluation and review begins immediately after games. Fuente said that after he speaks with the team and the media after the game, he gets all of the game film cut up and ready to review.

“For me, that’s an immediate thing. I want to know that,” Fuente said. “I want to get a chance to digest what actually happened. And then spend a little time pondering, put myself in the real time, kind of ponder back on, ‘Ok, our thought process was this and maybe we should’ve chosen road B or road A.’ But for me, it’s an immediate deal. I want to get my hands on it and comb through it and kind of think about it a little bit.”

Pimpleton’s desire to play leads to transfer

On Sunday, Andy Bitter of the Roanoke Times reported that wide receiver Kalil Pimpleton has left Virginia Tech football and is planning on transferring from the university after the semester. The true freshman enrolled early last winter, but struggled to work his way onto the field in year one. Pimpleton has worked on transitioning from a high school quarterback and running back to a college wide receiver, and that has hindered his ability to contribute early.

On Monday, Fuente declined to speculate on why Pimpleton decided to leave, but said he is proud of what Pimpleton has done with the Hokies and wishes him the best.

“First of all, he has just worked his tail off,” Fuente said of Pimpleton. “He is a fine young man with a bright future. And I don’t want to speculate too much to all his reasons. I think those are his reasons. I do think this is a guy that really wants to play. I think that was a pretty big thing. This is a young man that is extremely competitive, and really wants to get on the field.

“I respect that. The guy wants to get on the field.”

Virginia Tech football
Kalil Pimpleton (88) will not return to Virginia Tech this season, or next season. (Photo by Ivan Morozov)

Hokies hoping to send off seniors with a win on Senior Day

Saturday is Senior Day for Virginia Tech. It’ll be the final time that these seniors take the field at Lane Stadium.

This year’s senior class is different than last year’s, which drew a lot of praise for their leadership. Players like Sam Rogers, Woody Baron, Ken Ekanem, Jonathan McLaughlin and Augie Conte were lauded for their assistance in building Fuente’s foundation, and this year’s group of seniors have helped to further that process in their own way.

“I think that was a pretty special group, but I believe this is too,” Fuente said. “They’re different, in terms of their makeup, in terms of maybe a little bit overall less vocal than that group last year, but certainly as invested and have done a great job, in my estimation, of trying to kind of live up to those expectations. I don’t want it to be a burden on them, to try and live up to those guys, but I wanted them to learn.

“That’s probably what we talk about, probably most often, just as a team, is when things come up, what can we learn from this? What can we learn from good examples, from bad examples? Not necessarily judging the outcome, whatever it is, just trying to figure out what we can learn and talk about. I think these current seniors did a great job watching and listening and learning from the example that was in front of them, and have done a really nice job.”

Virginia Tech has a chance to send the seniors off with a good finish, despite losing two games in a row. The Hokies can still win out and record another 10-win season, which would be just the second such season since 2011. Even though they won’t fight for an ACC title, they have a chance to establish consistent success in Blacksburg.

“I do believe there is a tremendous amount of ownership on this team, ownership and affection I guess I should say, for our senior class, and a genuine desire to make sure we do everything we can to send them out the right way, and we’ll have a heck of a challenge doing that,” Fuente said.

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19 Responses You are logged in as Test

  1. Ricky, how about a list of the Seniors for their big day—for those of us who just don’t have the time to compile such lists. Kept thinking there would be a list but nary one to be found.

  2. One thing that most people don’t understand is that when an opponent starts from deep in their own territory it’s the equivalent of giving them a couple of negative points. To make this clear consider the following, if you have first and goal on the opponent’s 1 yard line, that’s roughly the same as 6.5 points since you’re so sure to score. But if you have first and 10 on your own 1 yard line, that may be roughly equivalent to negative 2 points since so many things can go wrong (including not making a first down and giving your opponent good field position after a punt).

    Once you understand that this is the correct way to look at these decisions, it should be apparent that Coach Fuente’s decision to go for it on fourth down was absolutely correct. In fact, if I was to be critical of him my criticism would be that the offense needs to go for it on fourth down even more. But based on the last two games Coach Fuente is way ahead of most other head coaches.

    Mason Malmuth

  3. Okay, I am over it..this was our Syracuse this year( so Klempson, btw) ..seems like we have one every year..
    What has not been talked about was a comment from a GT fan,post game when I was walking out of the stadium…he referenced that we were the better team but had a Miami big game loss hangover….well, why not?

    And no, I am NOT dissing the play callling….see Cam Phillips- 2 catches for 8 yards..someone please splain that…half the time I looked on the field , he wasn’t in the lineup…

  4. If CJF is directly addressing fan reaction to questionable play calls that means he didn’t just hear about it from social media. Someone more important than us put a bug in his ear about it. It’s ok to straight up get beaten, it is not ok to lose through questionable coaching decisions. Good learning experience for the newer staff, now time to move on to Pitt.

    1. You don’t chase points in the first half, period. He should know better. Hope he doesn’t make the mistake again.

      On defense, we are missing T Gray.

      1. Indeed… You don’t chase points against Paul Johnson that early unless you have a potent offense who can get it done, period.

        And yes….i wish we had TGray too. Combined we Coach Wildes, Torrian was like a 3rd Assistant Defensive Coach for the Defense.

  5. We have been down this road before because it’s still college kids playing a game. This loss was a head-scratcher for me too, but I am confident Coach Fuente knows more about football and more about the capabilities of his players than I do (on the later he and his staff know more than anyone). I am also confident he and his staff wanted to win this game even more than we fans did. I appreciate him owning up, fully support him and think we have a bright future ahead of us. Win or lose, Justin Fuente will conduct himself in a manner we can be proud of and guard the VT reputation as a place where things are done and people are treated in the right way, and in the end, that is more important than winning or losing (although losing to a team that got beat by UVA and is coached by Paul Johnson does stink).

  6. A pitiful performance from an unprepared team, and the worst part about it is many of us saw it coming just like we have for years and years now……………very sad…..

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