Tech Talk Live Notes: Preparing For Florida State

Share on your favorite social network:
Share on FacebookTweet about this on TwitterEmail to someoneGoogle+share on TumblrShare on Reddit

Virginia Tech Talk Live

Justin Fuente was Sunday night’s guest.

Reflecting on the growth of the team versus tunnel vision of the first game…

Well I do believe there is a time for reflection and evaluation, and we do some of that, or quite a bit of it actually, in terms of really all aspects of our program during the offseason.  When you get to this point, and for the last month it becomes tunnel vision on trying to improve every single day.  We have seen great improvement, we have lost some really good players to the NFL and graduation, and we’ve got some really talented guys trying to fill those shoes. They just haven’t done it before, I know that they’ve got the talent and the will power, and they want to do that, and the work ethic.  It’s just a matter of time, you can’t get experience unless you get on the field, it’s like trying to get your first job. They tell you they won’t hire you because you don’t have experience, but how do you get experience if you can’t get a job? It’s the same deal for us, we have to get them out on the field and cut them loose and see how they do.

On the inexperienced defense…

Well it’s just a talented group of guys that’s eager to please. We’re replacing a lot of experience back there.  So, is it a little bit different? Sure, but I feel good about their attention to detail, their willingness to try to improve and their talent level.  These are able bodied people, these aren’t guys that don’t have enough talent to go do it.  It’s just, like we said many times, they all told me when we were recruiting them they wanted to play early, so here’s our chance.  I like the way they’ve progressed, I think the measuring stick will be how they improve as the season goes along, you know, what do we look like eight weeks from now in terms of our development, that will determine whether we’ve done a really good job or not.

On preparing yourself mentally for the unknown…

Well I just know this, you better be on your toes.  I am a list-maker, I’ve always been that, I have some odd feeling of satisfaction when I mark something off the list. I can’t explain it, it just makes me feel good.  I think just waking up in the morning and knowing that you may have a list of eight things that you need to get accomplished. Regardless of what happens somebody somewhere is going to add 2, 3, 4, or 5 things onto that list that you’re going to need to address, and there is nothing you can do about it. Just accepting that and trying to build in empowerment with your staff and checks and balances, so that you can try to minimize those the best you can is the best way to go about it.  You just have to kind of come to grips with it a little bit, the best laid plans sometimes don’t always work out, and the great ones adjust. I’m certainly not saying that I’m the best adjustor, but I’ve learned over the years. I’ve never really gone that far down the road of just making up an objective to feel good about crossing it off, but it’s not a bad thought, I give you credit for that.

On the small group of scholarship seniors this year…

Well you’re right, they’ve been fantastic, it’s a small group, but it’s a powerful group and they have a lot of stroke, I guess you could say, with the young people.  That’s really important, when you talk about a football program and you talk about having an opportunity to build a culture, it’s got to be passed down.  The young people in your program have to learn it from somewhere, and they’re either going to learn it from the guys you want them to learn it from or they’re going to learn it from the guys you don’t want them to learn it from. It’s important to make sure those older guys are serving as the best example possible, and we’ve got that which makes me feel really good.  We’ve had that over the last couple years, and we certainly have seven fantastic examples for our young people that hopefully we can carry that forward and keep passing it down for freshman classes to come. 

On the message of unity he has tried to convey this week…

Well you kind of led right into it, we have 72 guys here ready to play, and we’re going to play in a hostile environment at night on national television, I think it’s important that there’s going to be all kinds of factors that try to chip away at our unity. The only chance we have is together.  As we go through this game there is going to be adversity that is going to try and chip away at our ability to stick together and stay focused.  I think that’s the perfect example of what we’ve got to have, is through the good times and the bad, through the hard patches in the games, the ups and downs, and the good times is that we stay together and we realize the power of a group of people that believe in something and are willing to sacrifice to get it.  That’s what we’ve been talking about leading up this entire week is the sacrifice and the preparation that we’ve got to have to stick together to go try and pull this thing off. I think our kids understand it and have kind of embraced that kind of weekly theme and we’ll put it on display.

On the number of players travelling to Tallahassee and the impact of the heat…

No doubt, we’ve been preparing, for there being three elements to this game, and one of them has certainly been the weather in our preparation through our summertime conditioning and through our fall camp.  Everybody on the trip serves a purpose and has to be prepared to play. That’s our travel number for ACC games.  This is the first time I’ve had a conference game to start the year and that’s a little bit interesting because of the redshirt rule and the travel restrictions.  So if you have a little bit different situation if you’re playing a non-conference game, you can bring a few more guys. 

On how they will avoid a letdown versus William & Mary Saturday…

Well the way we’ve handled that is we have introduced it as a singular challenge.  This is what they’ve put in front of this inexperienced football team is to go on the road at Florida State at night and turn around in five days and play your home opener with William and Mary.  It’s all one challenge.  When we finish with this game, we have to be able to turn the page immediately, and that is an incredible challenge for a team like this to take on.  We’ve talked about it really from the beginning, I don’t know if anybody even knows who’s on the schedule after William and Mary because the games have been tied together for so long.  We have really tried all of our summer preparation tied into the first two games, not the first game, and everything we’ve talked about, its tying those together. When we’re in the locker room after the game and on the plane home we’re not finished, our first challenge is only halfway done. 

On how he will address the new redshirt rule this season…

Sure, we’ve got basically a list of guys that they’ve got the green light they are going to play. We’ve got guys that have the red light that they’re not to be played now, or I just don’t feel like it, but maybe as the season goes along, we can explore the four games, but as of right now we don’t think we need to.  Then we’ve got a few guys that are kind of in the evaluation stage like we can put them in here early in the year a little bit to see, but we’ve got to keep track of them and make sure we know and have a good idea.  Some of it is beyond our control, quite honestly, if we come out you’re halfway through the season and you’re pretty healthy then you may be able to handle it one way, if you’re halfway through the season and you’re looking for volunteers to help cover kicks then you may have to handle it a different way.  We’ve got a good plan heading into week one, and then the Tuesday after the game we’ll have to evaluate our plan and get ready for week two. 

On his relationship with Willie Taggart..

Well I’m sure we’ll get a chance to visit a little bit before the game at midfield.  I have always enjoyed a relationship with Willie, I think he’s a fine football coach, he was a very good player back in the day.  It’s been kind of fun to move through the ranks together and kind of keep track of each other.  I think quite honestly when we visit, most of it is asking about our families.  I mean very little of it is about football, it’s about he and his kids and me and my kids.  It’s kind of cool to have someone essentially the same age that’s kind of worked his way up and now have a chance to play on this stage. 

On his daughters losing their teeth and how Taggart would react…

Yeah, I’m sure Willie would be thrilled, his kids are a little older than mine, so Caroline has lost seven teeth and Cecelia has lost eight, but the only person that’s keeping track is Caroline because she’s trying to catch Cecelia.  I’m sure Willie would be thrilled to hear about that.

On the role tempo played against Oklahoma State and how it will affect the game against Florida State…

We certainly did and really had a chance to pull that game off.  We just made a couple mistakes on both sides of the ball, turning a guy loose down the sideline and then having a poorly handled exchange down there on the goalline.  I think the point was that was the best way for that team to beat, or have a chance to beat, Oklahoma State. Certainly, keeping their offense off the field this week will be important, and trying to make sure we can be efficient offensively in order to give ourselves a chance, what we’ve got to do is we’ve got to score touchdowns when the ball is down there. When we do put drives together we’ve got to find a way to get the ball in the endzone because they’re going to have enough players to make some plays.  We’ve got to make sure we can keep them on the sidelines as much as possible.

On the Battle at Bristol and how the big stage cannot affect the way the team plays…

That’s correct, I remember we were up 14 to nothing and I was so mad at our football team at how they were handling it.  I just think you have to expect success and you can’t be surprised when you face adversity.  That’s the mindset you have to have, handling those things, on the stage. The stage should never determine how we prepare or ultimately how we play. We should be prepared to play in a Walmart parking lot, and it should not affect us.  That’s the mindset and the focus we have to have.  That doesn’t mean it doesn’t affect our emotions though because you just can’t help but feel it when you get out there and things are going.  Making sure we maintain a level head as we’re managing our emotions while we’re still playing with great effort and intensity and enthusiasm is going to be paramount in terms of us handling the inevitable ups and downs of any given football game, much less this one.

On Josh Jackson’s growth in the offseason…

I’ve been really pleased with him taking coaching, so to speak, or accepting the challenge. He has certainly done that and didn’t take it as a personal front, but took it as constructive criticism and has done a good job with it. I kind of chuckle with him sometimes with some of our lesser experienced players because he has a great sense of patience with them, much more so than I do.  Quite honestly, he does a really good job of continuing to stick with them and kind of coach them through those things and that sort of stuff.  It’s been fun to watch him even though he is only a sophomore, he has become a little bit more of an elder statesman on the team. He handles some of those new guys that are still trying to figure out which way to go, and he handles them differently than sometimes I do which I think is a good thing, I think it adds some balance. 

On preparing the relatively inexperienced team to play in week one…

Well you can’t recreate the game, as much as we do prepare our kids to go play, there is an element of unknown when you turn them loose.  It’s a little bit like we’ve talked about raising your kids up and then keeping them in your home and then sending them off to college.  As much as you may not want to, you’ve got to get them out of the house and let them go on their own a little bit. That’s what we’ve been doing, we’ve been training them and then now we’re going to turn them out on their own to see how it goes.  You see it every single opening weekend, special teams plays, large chunks of yardage exchange hands normally on special teams, and when special teams mistakes are made can really alter games.  I think this is probably a general statement, but by and large first week games, if they’re evenly matched, are more often lost than won by teams that don’t carry that discipline and don’t pay attention to detail as they head into the first games or get caught up in the emotion of it, and take foolish penalties or make poor mistakes.

On Silas Dzansi and Christian Darrisaw and how Fork Union has helped Virginia Tech…

Well, Fork Union has been great for Virginia Tech for a long time obviously with the Shuman family. Particularly for offensive lineman. Silas was a 240 pound offense/defensive lineman in high school that won the regional slam dunk competition.  He went off to Fork Union and came here at 315 pounds. That semester of eating and training, of discipline, quite honestly, they get up and march every single morning, has really helped him.  He’s already a talented person, it just helped mold him into a more disciplined person.  Christian is another one that we saw early, really liked, he was way under the radar, just like Silas in terms of recruiting.  He has talent and work ethic and discipline, he’s going to be a really, really good player for us.  Nijman is another one.  Just so many of those guys that just needed another semester of work in the classroom, another semester of discipline; guys that are a little under the radar recruiting wise, maybe a little bit what we term raw and not a finished product that can benefit from that extra semester and it’s really been big for us.

On what they can build off of from the game against Florida State…

Well I think regardless we’re going to learn a lot about our guys. The teaching that’s going to happen through victory, I think, will create urgency for the weeks to come. I like the way our guys have prepared to go win, not to participate, which drives me nuts.  I think they really have done that, but in the grand scheme of things it’ll be one game in a long journey.  A chance for us to go 1-0, and then in that locker room, when we’re getting ready to get on that plane to go home, we have to turn the page and get ready for the next challenge that’s up.


On what he will do to pass the time before the game Monday…

Oh its miserable. I’ll probably chew all of my finger nails off and pace a hole in my hotel room floor. Usually if it’s a Saturday game, you can watch some ballgames, we’ll relax a little bit and watch.  Obviously, we have meetings and walkthrough, but you can’t take up a whole day with meetings and walkthroughs. I’ll usually get up and have a little light breakfast and then we’ll go through some walkthroughs.  Then I’ll get myself a really good workout for me, a really good sweat, a good workout, then eat a pretty big lunch. Then kind of watch some ballgames, sometimes I’ll just get up and go for a walk.  That seems to be a little bit better deal than sitting around staring at the walls. 

On his eating habits on gameday…

No, I don’t eat much at all at pregame meal, I might have a little bit of fruit. I eat the same thing every time, I eat some melon and a little bit of strawberries.  I’m not real hungry, I’m not trying to starve myself, and I’m not a miserable person before the game, I’m just not real hungry. After the game, when you kind of come down from it, I’m ready to eat my arm off, I’m ready to eat good. We have a pretty disciplined or regimented pregame meal and the players and coaches eat, but I usually just kind of pass. 

On the difference between preparing on gameday when he was a player and now…

It is, it’s carbohydrates for us. I just really wanted to be left alone as a player the most.  I didn’t really want to be around anybody, not that I’m not a social person, but I just felt like for me, playing quarterback was different, I felt like I really needed to focus on what we were doing and trying to control my emotions. Contrary to popular belief, I am a rather emotional person, I’ve been working for many, many years to try and control that as best I can, so that was my center focus.  I kind of like to be away from everyone, I certainly wasn’t talkative and I certainly wasn’t very social leading up to the game and never really hungry.  I never really liked Gatorade either, I always drink just water, I don’t know, I was just kind of weird I guess.

Share on your favorite social network:
Share on FacebookTweet about this on TwitterEmail to someoneGoogle+share on TumblrShare on Reddit

7 Responses You are logged in as Test

  1. i like weird! Go Coach Fuente!

    for a coach who “doesn’t say much at press conferences,” he seemed quite talkative and long winded here. of course he wasn’t talking about what player was doing what, injuries, play calling, etc.
    i enjoyed seeing a little inside our head coach. nicely done.

    Go Hokies!

  2. Go write up. I enjoyed learning that the coach is an emotional guy that works hard to keep everything on an even keel. Hope it translates to the players. They are in for a fight every play tonight. That even keel will be huge in this game. Let’s go…

  3. How can you not be impressed with this man? We think of him as being so stoic, it’s interesting to learn more about him. Good stuff.

  4. Love his focus and preparation. There’s a LOT of Sports Psych 101 there that’s VERY VERY good stuff. Quite a bit that I’ve used in Golf and it translates to other sports. The “next play” mentality to overcome ebbs and flows that are inevitably good or bad in a competition is imperative.Love having this guy as our coach

Comments are closed.