Tech Talk Live had two guests on Monday night, with Virginia Tech men’s basketball coach Buzz Williams joining Justin Fuente. Williams previewed the Hokies’ 2017-2018 season, which begins on Friday, Nov. 10, while also briefly talking about Tech’s exhibition game vs. South Carolina to benefit hurricane relief. Fuente talked about how his Hokies are responding to the Miami loss, and what makes Georgia Tech’s offense go.
Here are the highlights from Monday night’s Tech Talk Live.
How culture is continuing to grow inside and outside program
“Well, I hope that there’s been a groundswell in all that we’re doing, and I hope that it comes out externally. I think that if you have access internally, you can pick up on things in a positive way. But I think that the season ticket sales, I probably pay attention to it more than I should, the season ticket sales for students, I pay attention to that more than I should, the lottery for the students, how that process works. I was studying South Carolina’s numbers. They have sold 460-something tickets more than they did last year, after a Final Four. We have sold more than that, and we lost in the first round, so that speaks to our fans and not to our talent, or our coaching for that matter.
“But I think that we’ve got to continue to, (Bill) Dyer and the ticket people are working on some stuff for me that I asked them for on Saturday, like I want to better understand all of the numbers as of today. Not so I can talk about, ‘look how much good we’re doing,’ but I want to keep doing it. I want to continue to find ways to get better, as opposed to going, ‘Oh, yeah, much better,’ but it needs to continue to get better. So they’re doing some numbers on what I want to better understand. But I’m really excited about it. I think our kids are excited about it. They don’t know how to articulate it how you or I would, but it makes them feel good. They’re excited about the game on Friday, and they know that there’s going to be some people there. That’s much different than it was, maybe last year or two years ago. I think that’s all positive.”
Having a few more healthy players than last season
“Yeah, I think it’s maybe a little harder than it comes across. You want to have as many good players as you can, with as much versatility as possible, and include depth at each position. But I’m encouraged by our team’s growth, I’m encouraged by our young guys, but eight of the nine guys, I’m going to be off on this… Yesterday, Nickeil (Alexander-Walker) has never played at Virginia Tech, (Wabissa Bede) has never played at Virginia Tech, PJ (Horne) has never played at Virginia Tech, (Kerry Blackshear) didn’t play at Virginia Tech last year, Ty (Outlaw) is not going to play for Virginia Tech this year, Chris (Clarke) is still on doctor’s stopwatch minutes for Virginia Tech, (Tyrie Jackson) has never played at Virginia Tech, so (Justin Robinson) knows what’s going on, (Ahmed Hill) knows what’s going on, (Justin) Bibbs did not play yesterday for Virginia Tech, so even though there is some depth, there’s a story behind each player.
“Like any other coach would say going into the week of the season opener, we’ve got to continue to try and figure out different ways and what are the best ways. We’ve had 18 practices, we scrimmaged George Mason in Blacksburg the last Sunday of October, and then obviously this weekend we just finished talking about. We had 12 individual workouts, we had nine boot camp sessions, so I think that we’re as prepared as we can be, but it’s kind of like, I was telling Corey (Williams), she was on the bus drive home, when you’re building something, building a house, you’re like, ‘this looks good, the workers are doing great, this is what they did last week and this is what they’re doing this week,’ and everything seems to be flowing good, but as you approach the time to move in, you’re like, ‘oh, we forgot about this, we’ve got to do this, we’ve got to do this,’ and that’s what was happening to me yesterday. Little bit at halftime, little bit more in the second half, a lot on the way home, like ‘oh if they did that, we don’t even know what to do,’ and ‘if they did this, I haven’t even talked to our guys about this.’ So I mentioned that to our team, and on Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday, we’ve got a lot we have to accomplish, a lot of those punch list items. Like ‘we’ve got to get this figured out, because I haven’t done it and it’s my fault, but please pay attention because we’re behind.’ So there will be a lot of that this week.”
Early impressions of Kerry Blackshear (KJ) and Chris Clarke, both who are coming off injuries
“I think Chris is probably four and a half weeks ahead of schedule, if you’re comparing it to most athletes. He’s 9-14 weeks ahead of schedule if you’re comparing it to me or you. I think when God made him, he put a little extra stuff on him. So, he’s way ahead of where he should be, but he’s like any other competitor, like ‘hurry up, I want to do more.’ I think what’s really important, considering the first two years of his career, is we continue to do everything that we can to help him, while at the same time staying completely on top of, what’s the next right thing to do today? He was very limited on Sunday, on purpose. He’s aware of that, I tell him that, I tell his parents that, because I wanted him to have a good 15 minutes that he got on Sunday. He’s off today, he sees the doctor again tomorrow. We’ll see what that ‘number’ is going into this week, but it’ll be the first time that he’s played Friday and Sunday, right? So, there has to be a ceiling on it, relative to, it’s a marathon.
“I think KJ is a good player. I think KJ is a really good kid. I think KJ is a really good player. He’s incredibly skilled, he’s arguably the smartest player on our team, on both ends of the floor. He’s had some moodiness he needed to have flushed out, and he probably came to the right school to get that flushed out. His per capita answer of ‘yes sir’ has continued to increase. I love KJ. I subbed him out yesterday. I don’t know what it was, maybe four or five minutes left, and I said, ‘I’m so thankful you’re here, you’re a really good player.’ And he’s a sophomore. So, he’s done a good job with his body. Ernest (Eugene) and (David) Jackson have been really good with him, and he was an intern for (Jon) Laaser this summer. KJ is going to do what you tell him to do, and he’s going to be mature in what you tell him to do, and he’s handled all of the stuff that has happened to him physically in a very mature way. I’m excited, just because I think he’s a really good player.”
How team handled the big stage in Saturday night’s loss
“I thought they handled the environment pretty well. We’ve got a lot of guys on our team who have played on big stages and have played against good football teams, and prevailed in some of those and come up short in some of those. We do have a few guys that have not. I think part of our challenge now, and I’ll use Josh Jackson as an example, but to get our young players up to the level of competitiveness and toughness that Josh has displayed this entire year. This is a redshirt-freshman out there battling his tail off every snap with young guys surrounding him. We’ve got to find a way to get the other young players, not Andrew (Motuapuaka) and the Edmunds brothers and Stroman, not those guys, but the young players to rise up and understand what it takes to win a game, or a game against really elite people, and I’m hoping or trying to cultivate that through our true freshman, our true sophomores and our redshirt-freshmen that are out there contributing.”
Hokies not having lost back-to-back games under Fuente’s reign as head coach
“Well, I think it’s been indicative of the toughness and the character of our players, and we’re going to have to call on that again. This will probably be the biggest challenge we’ve had, coming off a loss. I don’t know exactly who the teams we’ve played coming off a loss are, but this will certainly challenge us. I feel good about our leadership. That’s the one thing I will say. I feel good about our guys. Our young guys should be eager to get better, our old guys should be eager to lead and bring those guys along. I’m starting to see some of that, I’m starting to see big brother-type actions out there, which is good. And our older guys, they want to leave this thing the right way. They want to finish this thing off. I feel good about it. It is going to be hard. We’ve got to understand, like between the offense we’re playing, the defense we’re playing, our strengths and weaknesses vs. theirs, we’re going to have to play really well.”
Thoughts on Georgia Tech quarterback TaQuon Marshall
“He really is. He had some people open too. They did a really nice job offensively. I tell you what, it’s really easy to appreciate when you watch it, and you watch the coaches’ cut up, and then having answers for what people are doing. Like the first play of the second half, Virginia has been over-playing the motion, and they come out and run quarterback counter back door with the motion, and he goes 70 for a touchdown. Then 10 plays later, they run the same look, and run play-action double post-wheel to the boundary, and they actually had an interception, but had a guy wide open. So they have answers, they understand what they’re doing. Paul (Johnson) has been running that offense for a long, long time. Their quarterback makes it go. He’s athletic. They can keep the ball away from you, and they can score on big plays. They can do it both ways. You turn their Wake Forest film on, and Wake Forest has got the ball, down 3-0 in the first quarter, their first possession, they took their first snap with six-and-a-half minutes left in the first quarter, because Georgia Tech had the ball for most of the quarter.”
Virginia Tech has held the Commonwealth Cup for 4727 days. #Hokies
— Commonwealth Cup (@CommonwlthCup) November 6, 2017
Virginia Tech has held the Black Diamond Trophy for 4783 days. #Hokies
— Black Diamond Trophy (@BlkDiamondTrphy) November 6, 2017
It's been 716 days since we last beat Virginia Tech in football. #Hokies
— The Carolina Way (@fakeclasses) November 6, 2017