Quincy Patterson made his first career start for Virginia Tech on Saturday at Notre Dame just an hour and half away from his hometown in Chicago. The redshirt freshman finished 9-of-28 passing for 139 yards with one touchdown and one interception on a last second heave. He also added 77 yards rushing.
While not eye-popping stats, Patterson remained poised throughout, despite not receiving a whole lot of help on the outside with several drops from his wideouts.
“The moment wasn’t too big for him,” Fuente said on Monday during his weekly press conference. “He didn’t get rattled. We’ve got to make some more plays. Our execution level has got to continue to increase, but he got in there and was tough and competed in a tough environment versus a very good defense. I’m encouraged by that part of it. Plenty to work on moving forward.”
When Patterson and Co. took over with 7:02 remaining in the game and ahead 20-14, the offense picked up two first downs to begin the drive. One more first down likely would have iced the game, but the Hokies stayed conservative with two rushes from Deshawn McClease netting one yard, and Patterson being sacked on third down.
“There’s plays on both sides of the ball that we analyze and talk about and woulda, coulda, shoulda done differently or better,” Fuente said. “We hash all those things out. The bottom line is we went into the game as 17½-point underdogs trying to get the game into the last five minutes to try to win the game. That’s what our team was talking about, that’s what we were preaching.
“We knew that if we did that, we’d find a way to pull it off, because that’s what we’ve done before. And we came up short. So the challenge for us is emotionally and mentally to get back charged up, because we’ve got a great football team coming up to our place now.”
Patterson filled in admirably, as was the case against North Carolina as well, but the signs point toward Hendon Hooker assuming his role as starting quarterback this week versus Wake Forest. Hooker was close to starting last Saturday, but Fuente said he just couldn’t “pull the trigger.”
“We’ll see. If he practices all week and does well, then Hendon will be the starter,” Fuente said. “I don’t know if that’s going to happen or not.”
So how does the team respond moving forward with or without Hooker after such an emotional and demoralizing loss? The team’s goal of winning the ACC Coastal is still right there in front of them. A 4-0 finish to the season seals the deal, and a 3-1 finish could get the job done.
However, Fuente insists that the Hokies’ focus remains on themselves, and not on the outside noise and predictions that the media looks at.
“I tell them that you guys will handle all the distractions for us,” Fuente said. “You’ll talk about that other stuff. I mean that sincerely and out of respect for your all jobs. That’s what you guys do. Our job is to take care of us. We have more than we can say grace over this week in terms of Wake coming in here. Our guys understand, they can feel the confidence rising. The ability in each other. The feeling of trust in each other continuing to build. We got to go out and focus on what we can control.”
Wake’s High-Powered Offense
The last time Virginia Tech and Wake Forest met, Frank Beamer was celebrating a 0-0 tie at the end of regulation after the Demon Deacons pushed a 37-yard field goal wide right.
It’s safe to say Saturday’s matchup will feature more points than it did in 2014. Wake Forest enters the contest averaging 38.0 points per game and 510.6 yards per game, both good for second in the ACC only behind Clemson.
The Demon Deacons lead the nation running 86.4 offensive plays per game.
“The tempo with which they operate in the backfield is just a little bit different,” Fuente said. “I’m not sure that I’ve seen anybody else do it. They’re having huge success with it. Heavy into the RPO game, the quarterback run game, running the ball on the inside and the outside, and then pretty darn good throwing it around. All that combined with they are operating at a high, high speed. They are really pushing the tempo every single down, every single play.”
Special Teams Ups and Downs
There were a number of plays on special teams in South Bend that garnered discussion. First was the way John Parker Romo was able to replace Oscar Bradburn, who strained his groin in Thursday’s practice before the game. Romo punted eight times and averaged 44.3 yards per punt while downing two inside the 20.
“It’s not even a deal where he had all week to prepare,” Fuente said. “That literally happened on Thursday right before practice… our starting punter tweaks his groin and he jumped in there, had a good Thursday and actually handled a snap that was a little off and got the ball off quickly. I was really proud and happy for his performance.”
Every Friday the team gathers and watches film of odd plays that happen across the college football landscape. One such play that the team watched this year was a kick returner who was out of bounds when he first touched the kickoff, making it a kickoff out of bounds where the ball goes to the 35.
When faced with the same scenario, Terius Wheatley intelligently went out of bounds first and touched the ball as it dropped dead right along the sideline to incur the penalty.
“It was pretty cool because when he did, not only did we gain about 25 yards, but the whole sideline had been sitting in those meetings time after time after time,” Fuente said. “You would have thought we scored, we erupted, and we’re all patting him on the head and happy. We try to cover all those things, there are a lot of things that can happen on a football field, but we try to do our best to educate our guys on all those situations.”
Virginia Tech ended the night with some trickeration on special teams. After surrendering the lead, Caleb Farley gathered the kickoff and converged in a huddle with three other players. The desperation play was meant to create confusion about who had the ball once they separated, but the Fighting Irish snuffed it out and tackled Farley at the 10.
“We knew what we were doing,” Fuente said. “I would have rather it gone for a touchdown. We executed it in terms of what we were supposed to do correctly. We didn’t block enough people.”
- Virginia Tech’s game at Georgia Tech on November 16 was announced as a 3:30 p.m. kick, and it will be televised on regional sports networks.
- Rayshard Ashby was named ACC Linebacker of the Week for the fourth time this year after collecting 13 tackles and a forced fumble on Saturday. Divine Deablo was named ACC Defensive Back of the Week after his 98-yard fumble return for a touchdown, and he also had an interception and five tackles.