Hendon Hooker To Start At Quarterback For Virginia Tech; Braxton Burmeister Also Set To Play

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Virginia Tech, Hendon Hooker
Hendon Hooker is Virginia Tech’s starting quarterback. (Dave Knachel, Virginia Tech Athletics)

With kickoff approaching quickly for Virginia Tech football, head coach Justin Fuente finally gave some clarity on the quarterback situation, kind of.

“If we were to play a game right in this moment, Hendon [Hooker] would start for us, I’ve been really pleased with him throughout camp,” Fuente said. “But Braxton [Burmeister] would play, I’ve been really pleased with him as well.”

The Hokies are no strangers to playing multiple quarterbacks. Last season, Tech had three quarterbacks start a game. Hooker, Quincy Patterson and Ryan Willis were all under center last fall including an appearance made by all three against North Carolina. Now with Burmeister in the mix, the possibilities appear endless.

“I think the experience of all three of those guys is paramount to our ability to operate throughout this unique circumstance,” Fuente said. “I don’t know if there’s anybody else who’s got that situation, but it’s a huge plus for us that we have three guys who have played in and/or won Power 5 football games.”

Hooker’s introduction into the offense was much needed last season after Tech’s disastrous loss against Duke. After starting the season 2-2 under Willis, Hooker led the team to wins in his first six starts and didn’t throw an interception in any of those games.

“Throughout my whole career, I’ve tried to take care of the ball, and interceptions was something that you get joked on, and I wasn’t trying to get joked on from an early age,” Hooker said. “I just try to make the right play and do what I’m coached to do.”

Hooker didn’t have as much success in the season finale against Virginia where he turned the ball over three times. Then, in the Belk Bowl, Hooker put up just 110 yards through the air as the Hokies dropped their final two games.

“Honestly, my mindset from those two losses was not to leave anything up to chance, so whenever there’s a play that needs to be made, we need to make it,” Hooker said. “That’s a must, and that’ll be my attitude going forward.”

Entering the offseason, it still seemed like Hooker should be the heavy favorite to take the job once again. However, the now-eligible Burmeister is the wild card that has shaken up the quarterback competition.

“[Fuente] knows what he’s doing, so he’s going to put us in the best situation to win,” Hooker said. “When it’s my time, I’m going to play ball and when it’s Braxton’s time, he’s going to play ball.”

Burmeister transferred from Oregon, where he backed up this year’s sixth overall pick Justin Herbert, after the 2018 season. He waited for his shot after not having his eligibility waiver approved by the NCAA. Now, it appears he will get some sort of opportunity behind Hooker this season.

“[Burmeister] is a playmaker, so there would be difficult situations where he could just make a play out of nothing,” Hooker said. “Just seeing him go out there, make plays and have fun, I like seeing other quarterbacks succeed too. I’m a fan at this point.”

There’s no indication of what this arrangement will look like or how long it will last, but at least to start the season, the two quarterbacks will be rotating in and out on game days.

“I don’t know what that will look like in terms of percentage, I’m pretty far away from going down that road,” Fuente said. “I’m telling you, I’m excited for both of those guys.”

Although Burmeister and Hooker were always the most likely candidates to be QB1 in Blacksburg, redshirt sophomore Quincy Patterson is still a factor in the quarterback room.

Patterson willed the Hokies to victory in six overtimes against UNC last year with his arm and his legs. He followed that performance up with a solid fill-in performance in South Bend against Notre Dame, almost pulling off a huge upset.

“I have confidence now that I can go against Notre Dame or North Carolina and hold my own,” Patterson said. “When other situations come when I have to go in against anybody, I know that I can do that because I’ve had that game experience.”

Although Patterson will most likely not be slinging the ball around the yard much this season with more polished passers in front of him, his unique body type allows the Hokies to set up a package for him to make an impact.

“Quincy still has a huge role on this football team,” Fuente said. “I told him yesterday that I’m still just as encouraged as I have ever been about him and his development, and he will certainly still have a role.”

As if the situation under center for the Hokies couldn’t get more complicated, Fuente says that two of the three signal-callers could be on the field at the same time.

“I would say that’s certainly a possibility given the skill set that some of these guys have, it could happen,” Fuente said. “Your challenge each week is finding your best 11 players to go play on offense; five will be offensive linemen, one is going to be a quarterback, but the other five are negotiable.”

The solution that Fuente has laid out isn’t the most conventional one, but Tech shouldn’t have to change their offensive plans much no matter who is taking the snap.

Last season, all three quarterbacks had unique styles and abilities. Willis was a gunslinger who preferred to work from the pocket, Hooker was equally effective with his legs and his arm, and Patterson was a bruising runner who could surprise you with some pinpoint throws.

In 2020, Hooker and Burmeister may be splitting snaps on the field, but either way, the offense should run similarly.

“There was a noticeable change from Ryan to Hendon, but that’s not what this is,” Fuente said. “This wouldn’t be a ‘these plays for this guy, and these plays for the other guy’ kind of deal.”

In a strange season already, it only makes sense to have a strange quarterback situation for the Hokies. Typically, a two-quarterback offense is used when neither option seems to stand out. This doesn’t seem to be the case for Tech, which seems to think both are deserving of the job.

“If you’ve got two guys and neither of them have played well enough, so you’re just shuttling them back and forth, that’s a different scenario than what we’ve got,” Fuente said. “We’ve got two guys who have performed at a high level.”

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17 Responses You are logged in as Test

  1. Well written article…
    This is good veteran football team with very athletic experienced QB’s and the best running game in perhaps a decade.
    If we can find a pass rush, we’ll spring the a big upset going down the stretch.

  2. This a different year with COVID. Great to have three just in case say one or two test positive day before the game. Gotta have many options this year in order to win.

  3. Guaranteed 2/3 gone next season, especially with no eligibility loss

    Says more about Cornelsen’s QB analytical skills to pick the #1 QB, as historic data: JJ over Willis, Willis over Hooker, heck he was pushing JJ over Evans up until overruled by the big whistle.

    Let’s pray there’s no Hoobacle, from latest Chemistry lesson from Fu

    Let’s Go…Hokies

  4. On one hand, I’d rather have one defined starter for rhythm. On the other hand, COVID made this season a lot less meaningful, and everyone keeps this year’s eligibility, so why not see what they both can do? JF did imply this strategy is only for game 1.

  5. Oh come on just name Hooker the starter and get behind him 100%! It goes without saying the #2 guy is going to play at some point but the whole dual QB or planning to use 2 every game makes is a horrible idea so I hope that’s not what he’s hinting at. He already does that crap with our RB’s switches them out every series and never lets anyone get a rhythm.

  6. When you have two QBs there are always different nuances in the huddle and also how the ball comes to you in a handoff or thru the air. I’m not a fan of playing two QBs but we’ll see what happens. How do you know when to pull one and put the other in? If he has one bad play? Two bad plays? I’ve seen no film that shows BB is a superior passer than HH. If it’s going to be “play BB when we want to run the option but never let him throw” them I don’t like it. If we’re going to open the playbook for both QBs then that might be ok.

    Remember last year when King recovered his own fumble, then he didn’t see the field the rest of the game? How does a mistake translate to these QBs? How can you get into a rhythm as a QB if you’re constantly being rotated in? I’d argue this is the same problem we had rotating RBs last year. None really got in rhythm most games.

    We’ll see I suppose.

  7. In 2007, when Tech ran Sean Glennon and Tyrod Taylor as a combo,it worked pretty danged good. Tyrod had some hiccups in the Bowl Game,they went with Glennon and lost to an inferior Kansas team and their Fat Boy Coach. One of many grueling big game losses under our Hero Frank. It can work, mighty hard to Gameplan for. Burmeister didn’t get Spring Ball-there’s alot of Talk that He could be the Man. Quincy needs to play-He’s a Moose. But the Notre Dame game convinced Me that He aint the answer at QB-can’t Pass for the most part. Any decent passes, We win that Game all day. Instead, an absolute Heartbreaker on the final Drive,after Bud’s Boys were so Heroic-except for Caleb Farley-who took himself out on the last Drive-and now has deserted the Team again. Thanks again to a 1 year wonder-Previous Toast. Go Hokies!

    1. We lost that Kansas game because we went away from the running game in the 3rd quarter. We owned the undersized K defensive line in 2nd quarter. We come out throwing and pick 6. That’s bad play calling and coaching.

  8. no problem for me…if you have two equal in ability then play two. Hooker needs someone pushing him anyway, his end of year performance was lacking. I kept reading from insiders that Burmeister supposedly was “the best qb on the team” during his taxi squad year last year. I’m surprised he’s not starting really.

  9. Very happy that Fu did not out smart himself by picking someone not named Hooker as the starter. Regarding the 2 QB system, I would offer the old coaching adage that if you have a strong QB, you have an asset, if you have 2 strong QBs you have depth . If you have 3 QBs, You have a problem. I really like Q and I think he could start for most schools who need a QB. Fu has made up his mind on Q even after the ND and UNC games. If Fu hasn’t showed Q the transfer portal already he will after the abbreviated season. College football is brutal sport , physically and mentally.

  10. I trust Fuente on this one. Hard to distinguish between two similar but good QB’s. Let them both play and see how the ball bounces. I like the approach, and I think it is good for each QB.

  11. I trust Coach Fu but not a fan of rotating QBs. We have seen this in the past and really throws the offense off. Hard to stay consistent if you are splitting series or, worse, plays within a series. Go Hokies!!!

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