Tech Talk Live Notes: Justin Fuente Talks Jerod Evans, Previews East Carolina

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Virginia Tech Head Coach Justin Fuente made his weekly appearance on Tech Talk Live on Monday night, discussing the play of quarterback Jerod Evans, the struggles at center and the difference in schemes between Boston College and this week’s opponent, East Carolina.

Justin Fuente

Feeling leaving stadium after 49-0 win

“Well it beats the heck out of the alternative. I appreciate that, it does mean a lot to me. We do have challenges every week that we do have to refocus on the next game, whether the last one was good or bad, but everybody likes to hear good things every now and again. I certainly don’t want to tell people not to say them. I appreciate that, I know there have been a lot of great ballgames in that stadium, there have been a lot of great football teams to take that field, it’s a nice thing for people to say.”

Progress of punt team

“We continue to work. Every Tuesday, we work redzone punt. We take a lot of pride in that. It’s part of our pre-practice specialty drill. We’ve made large strides, in terms of pinning the ball down deep. I just can’t tell you the sense of relief, as an offensive coach, when the other team punts the ball into the endzone. You immediately relax a little bit. There’s some anxiety you get when they down the ball at the 5-yard-line or the 8-yard-line. When we can do that to other people and let Coach Foster and the defense attack, go be an attacking-style defense, it’s a huge advantage for us. Our open field punting hasn’t been as consistent as I’d like it to be, but I like where we’re going with our redzone punting.”

Concern over center position

“They’ll cover the center a portion of the time, not all the time. That in itself, as you can imagine, is difficult on the center, no matter who you are, to snap the ball and have somebody on top of you, as opposed to being uncovered. We’re continuing to work our guys out. Chung, he’s a talented player and we’ve got to get his mechanics worked out so he can do it on a consistent basis. (Eric) Gallo is a guy that’s played a bunch of reps. I still feel like we need to be able to rotate more than one guy in there. Gallo is highly intelligent and has played a lot, but he’s got a little bit of mileage on him too. In order for us to make it through the entire season, I think we need some depth there. It’s a work in progress right now.”

vt_fb_jerod_evans_2016_05
Jerod Evans tied the Virginia Tech record for touchdown passes in a single game, which was originally set by Bryan Randall in 2002.

Performance of Jerod Evans

“As we continue to progress, there’s some things that I would like us to be able to do, in terms of checking at the line of scrimmage, protections, operationally that we’re not really as efficient as I want us to be at. I’m confident Jerod will be at some point. At times, I think you guys can probably tell, we’re conservative on third and long, at times trying to make sure we protect the football, part of that is because there’s a lot of exotic stuff people are doing on third and long. They can be pretty tricky in there. I think that’s part of the progression for him, understanding the looks and the big picture. A lot of times, he’s doing exactly what we ask him to do. I just know there is another level of understanding. A mistake is not always an interception or an incompletion. You can get a 10-yard gain and it’s still not what we’re trying to accomplish. There’s another level of understanding that he’s working on a daily basis to get to and I’m confident that he will. It’s going to take time for him and game reps.”

“Playing well is important to Jerod. Playing at Virginia Tech, having the chance to be the starting quarterback and ultimately doing a good job, is really important and he will listen to whatever you tell him to do because he believes in, first and foremost, Coach (Brad) Cornelson and secondly, me, in terms of, what we say can help him play better and develop his understanding, and that’s important to him. He does a very good job of trying to figure it out, listening and taking coaching. Not everybody likes that. Not everybody likes to be coached. Not everybody likes to be coached the way we coach sometimes either. Jerod does a great job if disseminating the information, listening to the message and trying to act on it.”

On Cam Phillips being benched for a couple drives, then being reinserted

“It’s pretty simple. You earn playing time and guys that play well get to continue to play. That doesn’t mean if we’re unhappy with a guy, we’re unhappy with him for the rest of his career. It’s up to them to respond in the right way, and that’s how I was proud of Cam. I was not happy with the way we started, and I’m not going to get into all of the semantics of what it was, just wasn’t happy, so we put another guy in there and we’re going to roll. Cam’s got to understand we expect him to play at a certain level, and when he got back in there, he did play at that level we expected him to play at. He didn’t hang his head, he didn’t mope. I was proud, I think it was a learning experience for him.”

Thoughts on East Carolina quarterback

“He gets it out of his hands quickly. Talking with Bud (Foster) a little bit today and watching a couple of their games this morning, he knows where to go with the football. He’s going to take his three steps and get that sucker out. He seems to be a good athlete, moves around and escapes problems. Obviously No. 7 (Zay Jones) had 22 catches last week, which I’ve never even heard of. That’s unbelievable. He’s obviously got some comfort with that young man and justifiably so, watching them play. Seems to be very efficient, his percentage is incredibly high. Seems to be valuing the football, he’s going to be a viable weapon.”

Danger in playing East Carolina, who should’ve beaten South Carolina, similarities to loss to Tennessee

“That’s absolutely correct. There’s definitely parallels there. They dominated their game much more than we did in the Tennessee game, but they did make some of the mistakes we made in the Tennessee game, and I would imagine their practice tenor, their verbiage they are going to use during the week is going to be similar to what ours was last week. I have every reason to believe we’re going to face an incredibly focused and talented football team on Saturday.”

Preview of East Carolina

“Just watching them, I didn’t know what to expect. I had a little bit of familiarity with them from my time in the American (Athletic Conference). We only played them once, my very first year at Memphis, and we were just getting that thing started.  We didn’t play them any of the last three years. I saw them in crossover film all the time, when we were playing other opponents. What amazed me today, when I started watching them on offense, is how similar they looked under a new staff. It looks really similar to what they had done in the past. They’ve got some really dynamic playmakers on the outside. They’re probably, I’d venture to say, not running the ball as much as they have in the past. Part of that is probably the people they’ve been playing. Defensively, it’s the same type of scheme that Vanderbilt has been running the last couple of years, which has given some people some problems. They’re slanting and moving, lining up in a 50 defense and some four-down stuff. A little bit of a departure there from what they had been doing defensively in the past.”

“The two things that jump out to me early in the week — can we handle their movement, can our offense handle their movement. They’re going to play some man coverage, they’re going to bring a little bit of pressure. Their movement from their base stuff, when they’re going to a 50 defense or to a four-down defense, can we handle that part of it. For our defense, we’ve got to get into the backfield. We can’t let him stand back there and throw the ball at will. We’ve got to get him off the spot, make him move around, in order to give us a chance to win. That starts with making them one dimensional, not letting them run the ball, which I know is where Bud (Foster) starts every gameplan session with, how do you prevent them from running the ball.”

ECU's James Summers beat the Hokies with his eyes closed.
East Carolina’s James Summers (right) came in off the bench vs. Virginia Tech last season and really changed the complexion of the game.

Threat of James Summers, who accounted for 279 total yards and three touchdowns vs. Virginia Tech last season

“He’s a big kid. He lines up at quarterback still some now. He hasn’t thrown the ball very much, but we know he can throw the ball, which prevents you from just putting everybody down in the box. He’s done some zone-read stuff, he’s done some quarterback run stuff, he’s a skilled player back there. Usually they’ll move him around a little bit and he finds a way to have an impact on the game.”

Ability to break Boston College out of man press coverage

“Basically, Boston College centered their defense around loading the box, putting more people around the football than you can block, to eliminate the run game. On the outside, they didn’t play zone coverage, they played man coverage, so the corners cover the widest guy to the field. They didn’t play off of them either. They had these big corners, so they played this press man, right up there next to you when the ball is snapped. It restricts some of the things you can do offensively. If you can’t get people out of it, the combinations, the fun stuff you get to do on offense is really, really limited. It’s hard to run the ball. That was our primary focus heading into the game, how can we mess with them a little bit in man coverage. Can we line up a tight end at tackle, which is what we did on the touchdown to Travon (McMillian). We went quick and had our tight end lined up at tackle so now there’s a guy over there covering someone who’s lined up at left tackle. We had our left tackle lined up at right tight end, those sorts of things to try and mess with those things, get the ball out in space and we did that. Then the real chess match began. They started moving fronts and blitzing, they started doing things they hadn’t shown before, it was up to us to try and adapt. Heading into East Carolina, another team that likes man coverage, another team that gets to it a little bit differently though. They don’t play quite as much press but they will. They load the box in different ways. They move the front, they move guys around, which creates a whole other issue of trying to get them out of that to get them to their secondary calls.”

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9 Responses You are logged in as Test

  1. I like what you did there, Tex. Wonder how long it will take everyone to learn that there is no “s” at the end of our coach’s last name?

  2. I really like Fuente’s attitude – he doesn’t get too high or too low after a game. He also expects players to perform at a high level, and if they don’t, then he takes what they value the most away from them – playing time. He also makes the punishment appropriate – not a whole game, but a series or 2 to let him think about what he did wrong. So far, the team is trending upward. Let’s hope we take another positive step this week against ECU!

  3. From the last paragraph, referring to BC’s Defense

    “They started moving fronts and blitzing, they started doing things they hadn’t shown before, it was up to us to try and adapt.”

    This might be one of the best aspects of the staff change. When we heard in past years that “they started doing things they hadn’t shown before”, it was usually very bad news for the Offense.

  4. I can’t rave enough about Fuente’s relentless drive toward perfection. Frank seemed to be all about results — QB scrambled for his life because of lousy protection, but we still get a 10-yd gain? Celebrate! Not so with Fuente. He knows exactly what he’s trying to accomplish and how to get there, and it sure seems like the players have bought in.

  5. I’m a pretty smart guy with two BA’s from VT. Having said that, when it comes to football knowledge Fuentes is light years ahead of me. He might be the one to finally get VT a national championship. Still, none of this would have been possible without Frank. It’s good to be a Hokie.

    1. Exactly how I feel. I told my youngest son (25) after Fuentes was hired. Just give us 3 – 5 years to be one of the teams selected for the playoff. We would not be in our current position without Coach Beamer, but he could only take us so far. I believe with Fuentes offensive approach and keeping Bud as DC, we will go to new heights, on a consistent basis.

      1. I like Coach Fuente also. Coach Fuente will indeed take us to new levels of excellence. Yes, Coach Fuente was a great hire and the future with Coach Fuente is bright!

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