Virginia Tech Notebook: Responding to Adversity, Field Goals and Coleman Fox

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Is Coleman Fox (16) close to earning a bigger role for Virginia Tech? Justin Fuente isn’t sure. (Photo by Ivan Morozov)

Virginia Tech isn’t panicking, nor should they.

The Hokies lost to No. 2 Clemson on Saturday night, picking up their first loss of the season. But they aren’t pushing the panic button.

“It certainly wasn’t time for a players’ only meeting, or a circling of the wagons,” said head coach Justin Fuente. “It’s early in the year and I think our guys are excited about the challenge in front of us.”

Instead, Virginia Tech is presenting themselves with a simple question — react or respond?

“When you’re faced with adversity, or outcomes that you don’t particularly want or didn’t aspire to, you have two options,” Fuente said. “You can react and go the wrong way, or you can respond to the situation. Hopefully we’ll have a great week of prep and do a great job of responding.”

So far, Fuente seems pleased with how his team is handling the loss. Saturday’s loss to the Tigers was Virginia Tech’s first loss since the Hokies lost to Clemson in last year’s ACC Championship Game.

“Yeah, I thought it was good,” Fuente said. “We had a good workout on Sunday. I think our kids understand the challenge that’s in front of them. None of them are happy about what happened. It certainly wasn’t a group that — my message was, ‘Don’t even walk in here and feel sorry for yourself. Nobody is going to feel sorry for us. It’s up to us to change the situation we’re in.’ I think they heard that, and I look forward to seeing them the rest of the week.”

Part of fixing a problem is admitting there is one, and the Hokies aren’t hiding behind any excuses. Justin Fuente knows that if Virginia Tech is going to get where they want to this season, everyone needs to improve.

“I would say that we should have played better at every single position,” Fuente said of his team’s play vs. Clemson. “At quarterback, at offensive line, at defensive line, at linebacker, at defensive back, at punter — Greg Stroman at punt returner was as probably as good as you could get. Other than that, I would give our whole team a very average grade.”

Average isn’t going to cut it in the ACC. Virginia Tech’s quest to repeat as Coastal Division champs continues next weekend at Boston College, the Hokies’ Atlantic Division crossover rival. The Eagles are 2-3 this season, including an 0-2 record in the ACC. Boston College lost in week two to Wake Forest and in week four to Clemson, losing to the Tigers by a score of 34-7. However, the Eagles were tied with Clemson until the fourth quarter, where they were outscored 27-0.

Despite Boston College’s record, Virginia Tech is by no means overlooking the Eagles before Tech’s bye week.

“They’re a big, strong, physical football team. They get in many more big personnel groups, multiple tight ends, under the center, try to run the ball at you, play action over the top. They do a good job with their naked and boots. Very sound on special teams. Their punt returner has been fantastic. Statistically, I don’t know where he’s at, but he really had a good game vs. Clemson and had a good game last week. Defensively, it’s a lot of man coverage. They don’t back up very much. They get down there, in your face, and play press man and mix a little bit of zone in.”

Virginia Tech football
Virginia Tech kicker Joey Slye has been excellent on kickoffs this season, but has been inconsistent when kicking field goals. (Photo by Ivan Morozov)

Hokies concerned about Slye, Fox impressing in limited role

One of the biggest concerns facing Virginia Tech right now is the kicking game, specifically senior kicker Joey Slye. After being incredibly reliable from inside 40 yards throughout his career, Slye has missed three such field goals already this season. Overall, Slye is 8-14 on field goal attempts this season.

Fuente was short in addressing Slye’s play.

“Sure,” Fuente said. “I mean, absolutely concerned about it.”

Another concern is running back play. Steven Peoples missed the Hokies’ game vs. Clemson, and Tech’s running backs didn’t impress the coaching staff on Saturday. Tech’s uneven play at running back has some wondering if Coleman Fox should get more of a look. In limited work in Virginia Tech’s last three games, Fox, a redshirt-sophomore, has run for 139 yards on 24 carries, scoring one touchdown. Fox also has four receptions for 13 yards.

As of now, Fuente isn’t sure if Fox’s role will increase earlier in the game, before the outcome of the game has been decided.

“Two weeks ago, excluding the Clemson game, the games were out of hand and we wanted to get him in there,” Fuente said. “Jalen had been sick, and this past week we had a fumble, we had a missed block on the perimeter and Coleman had practiced well, so we felt like putting him in there. So I don’t know, we’ll see. He’s done a good job when he’s been in there and he continues to work hard.”

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11 Responses You are logged in as Test

  1. It seemed to me like the timing was slightly “out of whack” on Slye’s missed FG. The snap was a little off and Bradbury was a little slow in getting it down. This may have lead to the kick being pushed wide right.

    1. I didn’t notice it myself, but the guys sitting with me said the hold was whack…and the snap wasn’t great…Hope that’s all it was!

  2. Fox has definitely earned more PT, but let’s bot get out of hand. He is still 4th on the deptj chart. You can’t tell me one fumble by TMac is enough to push Fox ahead. TMac blocks much better now abd had some decent runs last week. McClease has been good abd so has Peoples. Fox has earned some more snaps, but still a lot of his work has been vs backups with the game no longer in doubt

    1. I think TMac was also the missed block Coach referred to prior to putting Fox in….Fox may not be the answer, but TMac just can’t seem to get it in gear..VERY disappointing because I really like the guy. Fumbles drive a stake through the heart of your offense, and it happened at a time Saturday when we desperately needed to generate offence and momentum!

  3. I would put some of the play calling at an F- Especially the fake FG and the 4th down play call out of timeout.

  4. RIcky, can one of the writers do a review of the good, the bad, and the ugly on the running backs in running plays where they are used as blockers. I saw some runs against Clemson where we missed, whiffed and worse, were blown up into the ball carrier. Fuente seems like he wants his backs to block great before giving them carries. Coleman Fox looks like a great scat back but not exactly a blocker. Blocking in the open field is very technical and challenging since there are fast moving targets. Got to have your feet and timing perfect, takes practice. Thanks, Go Hokies!

      1. Gracias in advance, as its clear Coach Fuente wants something from the RBs that is missing: is it a communication issue, talent issue, effort, consistency, etc… Something that seems lost this season from any of the skilled player carrying the ball: Yards after contact (YAC), both backs, jet sweeps and QB, it seem have limited yards after initial contact, which has impacted our drives.

        From Section 7 Observation Deck:
        Backs look more comfortable running from a pistol like formation than hand-off in the shotgun, seems they hit the hole slower, may be exchange, as ROP feels slower this year.
        * T-Mac was productive in his 1st year but had an unsustainable number of carries down the stretch, now he looks unsure and tentatively 85% of the time, both blocking and running the ball. (Wonder at times if his mind is tripping up his feet, as he’s lost his flow to the outside)
        * Peoples instincts seems more inclined to hit defenders vs. running away from them, almost makes we ??? the move from H-Back to RB this season, as he a pretty solid blocker.
        * McClease body of work is limited, was underwhelming in blocking assignments last two weeks, but has given few flashes in running the ball at times. (He has a burst).
        * QB JJ: As this is a huge part of this offense, QB Running, believe you have to include him as well, Feels like he holds onto the ball too long in ROP plays as well as traditional option outside tackle. Lacks the physical skills to outrun and bull over defenders so when hit usually goes down for no YAC.

        Looking forward to your review as the tape don’t lie!!!

        Let’s Go…Hokies!!!

      2. Can you also touch on Holston and why he’s not RS and how is he contributing other than KO opposite the main returner.

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