Virginia Tech Enters Bye Week Looking To Get Healthy

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Hendon Hooker, Virginia Tech
Justin Fuente doesn’t believe that Hendon Hooker’s injury is serious. (Ivan Morozov)

Following Virginia Tech’s unforgettable 43-41 six overtime triumph over North Carolina, the Hokie fan base was still buzzing the next day. Sunday was filled with folks reliving the overtime madness, the Lane Stadium magic, and Quincy Patterson’s plunge for the game-winner.

However, head coach Justin Fuente and Co. don’t have the luxury to ride high off the emotions from the night before. It’s right back to business for them.

“Well, that’s one thing about this business, you don’t have a lot of time — good or bad,” Fuente said. “So after the game, you go to dinner with recruits, you get up the next morning, you come host the recruits, you go through the film and analyze what happened and get your teaching points and move forward.

“It doesn’t mean you don’t always enjoy it, but the two challenges are when things don’t go well, you’ve got to be able to turn the page and move forward, and then when things do go well you’ve got to be able to turn the page. And sometimes it’s harder, especially for younger players, to turn the page after having success.”

Here’s several other takeaways from Justin Fuente’s Monday morning press conference.

Virginia Tech’s Two-point Conversion History

Virginia Tech stats wizard Damian Salas had a log of the two-point conversion attempts under Fuente’s tenure ready for the beat writers following the press conference. In the past four years, the Hokies are 4-for-9, including the two attempts in the fifth and sixth overtime on Saturday.

It’s a rare play that’s been instituted two or three times a year, so it made sense postgame when third-string quarterback Quincy Patterson admitted that he hadn’t received any two-point conversion reps since fall camp.

“First of all, it’s kind of ironic, in the bye week we had a session of two-point plays, good versus good,” Fuente said. “I thought it was a really productive period for us. What we didn’t know is that several weeks down the road it would be Quincy in there at quarterback. 

“You fall back on what you know you can execute. It doesn’t have to be a two-point play. It doesn’t have to be some crazy ‘Philly Special’ play to go execute to get three yards. It can be, certainly. So you fall back on things that he’s repped time and time again that you feel good that he can go out there and do.”

Continued Improvement of Virginia Tech Rushing Attack

For the second straight week, Virginia Tech surpassed 200 yards on the ground. On Saturday, the Hokies pounded the ball 60 times for 254 yards, good for an average of 4.23 yards per carry. Patterson led the way as a battering ram, carrying the ball 21 times for 122 yards.

The 60 rushing attempts were the most by Virginia Tech since 2017 when the Hokies racked up 62 carries for 287 yards against East Carolina.

“I think we’ve made some strides in the last several weeks from a technical standpoint,” Fuente said. “I think [the offensive line] has taken the onus on themselves to embrace that level of coaching to improve there. I think we’ve gotten better.”

Deshawn McClease picked up 72 yards rushing on Saturday and scored for the third consecutive week.

“I was really proud of Deshawn, not just how he played,” Fuente said. “We were in the game, and all of sudden there’s a large switch in what we are trying to accomplish and Dalton is in there a lot more at tailback because of Quincy and that sort of stuff. You got a guy being productive, and now his reps got diminished a little bit there. How he handled that there spoke volumes to the rest of the team. Just continuing to support. I thought it was worth special recognition with the team yesterday.”

Issues in the Kicking Game

Brian Johnson had the chance to send the Hokies home happy in the fourth overtime. His initial kick sailed through the uprights from 42 yards away, but Mack Brown called timeout right before the snap. Johnson’s actual attempt sailed wide right, and it was the second straight field goal he missed, failing to convert the 41-yard attempt in the previous overtime session.

The redshirt sophomore kicker did nail the 38-yarder in the first overtime, and it continues to provide evidence to his range. Over his career, Johnson is 76-for-76 on extra points and 19-for-20 from inside 40 yards. However, he’s now just 3-for-13 on attempts that are 40 yards or more, which begs the question if the Virginia Tech will look at another option for those longer attempts.

“Yeah, we’ll certainly look at that,” Fuente said. “You take into consideration that and play calls as well when you get down there in kind of that grey area. You know, we’ll continue to work Brian and Parker [Romo] in there, and through this week that will be a point of emphasis as well.”

Advantageous Bye Week

When a team finishes the longest game in ACC history, one that saw a combined 170 plays called, not including the four combined two-point conversion attempts in overtime, it’s safe to say some of the players were on fumes by the end of it.

Now, the Hokies head into their second bye week of the season, and they will have some time to rest this weekend before the showdown in South Bend next weekend against Notre Dame. Meanwhile, the Fighting Irish will be in a dogfight against Michigan in the Big House this Saturday.

“It was a taxing ballgame,” Fuente said. “There’s no question about that… We can’t just lay on the couch all week, so a part of a head coach’s job is balancing those things, trying to figure out what the team needs in order to get those results.

“It’s kind of like your last gasp for a big breath of air before you go underwater for a while here, and we’ve got to do a great job serving two masters: one, getting some guys that have a lot of mileage on them back feeling good, and getting some other guys ready for the stretch run.”

Injury Update and Notes

  • Fuente is never one to provide clarity regarding the injury report of players who are banged up. He confirmed what he said postgame on the status of quarterback Hendon Hooker. “Yeah, I don’t think it’s going to be a long-term deal,” Fuente said. “He’ll be OK.”
  • Caleb Farley appeared to take a knee to the head in the second quarter. He’s likely dealing with a concussion. “He’s supposed to be back too,” Fuente said.
  • Keshawn King dressed for Saturday’s game, but did not play, ceding carries to Dalton Keene. “”He was a little banged up for the game,” Fuente said. “We dressed him and had him ready, but tried not play him. He should be fine.”
  • Jermaine Waller was at first given credit for the blocked field goal in overtime No. 4, but it was actually Luke Tenuta who got a hand… err, a head, on the ball. “Well Tenuta blocked it. With his head. So being tall helps,” Fuente said. “We were not happy with our effort or execution on field goal block two weeks ago. We actually did an extra period on field goal and field goal block on Tuesday. And I thought the kids took the coaching really well.”
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3 Responses You are logged in as Test

  1. JFs honest. It was a low kick and wasn’t going to take too much credit for the block but had allowed they had worked on improving that aspect of the game.

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