Virginia Tech Attempting To Get Through COVID-19 Wave

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Virginia Tech
(Dave Knachel, Virginia Tech Athletics)

Justin Fuente spoke to the media on Monday for the first time since the Hokies decided to shut down the football program for four days and postpone the season opener against Virginia.

“We could see the disappointment with our players when the Virginia game was postponed,” Fuente said. “I know our fans were disappointed; it’s just one of those things that we’re dealing with.”

The Virginia game is expected to be made up at some point later in the season, but no date has been announced yet.

The Hokies decided to postpone the game over the weekend when leadership realized that they could not meet the minimum roster requirements stated by the ACC.

“I was concerned about it, but it wasn’t until about the very end that we realized this was not safe,” Fuente said. “This had nothing to do with competitive advantage. I called Bronco [Mendenhall] on Saturday and told him, ‘There is no way we can safely put our kids on the field.’”

As always, tensions rise when the Commonwealth Cup is on the line, which was seen through interactions on Twitter Saturday between players and fans from both programs. However, despite the fire from both sides, this year’s clash will have to wait at least a few months.

“Our guys want to go play, they were crushed,” Fuente said. “They believe they can go play without very many guys, but sometimes it’s our job to protect those guys from themselves, and that’s what [Dr. Rogers did] … in my opinion, it wasn’t even close.”

The start of Virginia Tech’s season has now been pushed back twice since the ACC’s conference-only schedule was released.

NC State was in a similar situation to the Hokies three weeks ago as the university had to shut down all athletic activities and push their week one showdown back to Sept 26. After this most recent postponement, that game is once again expected to be Tech’s first game of the season.

“We had this happen to us before with NC State, and with the full understanding that the shoe could be on the other foot, and it was,” Fuente said. “We’ll do our best to keep moving forward.”

The Hokies will turn their attention to trying to be ready for that game, in terms of preparation and health. However, those efforts won’t begin until at least Wednesday when the team will determine if they can resume practice.

“We’ll find a way to get prepared for the game,” Fuente said. “I’ll make a schedule, and we’ll just kind of play it by ear.”

Fuente says the team was tested Monday and will get another test on Wednesday. These results will carry a lot of weight as to whether the Hokies will suit up in two weeks.

“[It’s going to be about] availability and where we’re at from both the quarantine side and others who were identified through contact tracing,” Fuente said. “It’ll be a numbers situation as we go.”

Making things more difficult are the ACC’s protocols on when players can be released from quarantine due to either a positive test or contact tracing.

“It’s not going to be, on Wednesday, everybody is good,” Fuente said. “All those kids have different timetables; some guys have a chance to get out next Wednesday, some on Tuesday, some on Thursday, it’s all over the place.”

The cases began to rise on the football team as cases began to rise on campus. Fuente said that the team was “knocking it out of the park” when it comes to dealing with COVID-19 until students came back on campus and outbreaks began.

“[COVID-19] is on our minds and weighs on us 24 hours, seven days a week,” Fuente said. “If you test three times a week, you’re three taps on the shoulder away from not being able to play because you’re around a person in a particular setting.”

With so much up in the air, it continues to be a waiting game for Virginia Tech football. As of now, the hope is that the Hokies will meet the Wolfpack in just under two weeks.

“I don’t feel comfortable raising the alarm or putting the fire out in terms of the NC State game,” Fuente said. “I just don’t know enough right now about how things are going and where we’re at.”

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17 Responses You are logged in as Test

  1. One thing that I fervently believe: Whit and Coach Fu are doing a professional job of managing the team in a difficult (nearly impossible) situation. I don’t think our uninformed opinions on their competence are much help.

  2. To me it seems Fuente is just too much of a skeptic or pessimist. Never sounds like much positive from him, especially of late always doubting or questioning things. Listening to Dabo and Mack Brown speak on national TV this past weekend really drove the nail home for me that we are lacking in Fuente’s personality and ability to build and maintain a positive relationship with the media, which is a big part of running a big time (or wannabee big time) program IMO unless you’re Nick Saban. Dabo and Mack always stay positive, always says we want to play football and we’re going to make it happen whatever it takes, and always downplay the COVID stuff when talking heads try to entice them to talk about it. Fuente is opposite, whenever they bring up covid he takes the opportunity to promote his skepticism and pessimism. Even here he’s already lining us up to back out of the NC State game which isn’t for almost 2 MORE weeks. Meanwhile every other ACC is getting on with their season. I know many disagree but IDC, end of rant.

  3. Rapid testing is the key. Nebraska is installing a Quidel antigen test unit in the football facilities. This provides a test result in less than 15 minutes, eliminating the need for contact tracing and quarantine. As I understand it, all Big 12 schools are also installing this equipment by the end of the month.

    https://omaha.com/sports/huskers/football/huskers-acquire-own-rapid-covid-testing-through-unmc-partnership/article_b2fd0e21-167c-5f60-a46e-c9b64204e9af.html

  4. The season needs to be scrubbed. Look to next season with the hope the virus will be diminished and an effective vaccine in place. This is an impossible situation.

  5. I know that Basketball has been hard at it with practice and workouts, intensified especially over past 4 weeks. The guys were apparently told that it’s by design, in case they are shut down for a while because of rise in COVID cases. They want them well conditioned going into a shutdown, in the small chance that we have a season.

    1. I don’t think it had anything to do with classes. All classes are on-line now anyway. This outbreak surely had to do with contacts with the student body outside of the class room. Unless you keep the athletes in “bubble” (unrealistic) what do you expect?

      These are all young adults who are social beings who should be smart enough to know how to “stay safe” but obviously aren’t. They are socializing, and thus coming into contact with those are positive (many of whom aren’t even aware that they are). The results are predictable.

      1. Totally agree, Hokiecamp. Summer Football workouts happened without issue, because the social life on campus was minimal, dorms empty. By Aug 24, dorms filled up, “girlfriends returned.” That’s a dynamic that they will NEVER be able to control without a bubble concept. It will unfortunately be very tough to regain control of this situation Without sequestering these guys or bubble
        Concept.

      2. I agree. When supposedly leser academic schools like E. Kentucky, W. Kentucky, Austin Peay, Coastal Carolina,etc, etc… have the smarts AND the discipline to avoid Covid situations, maybe it’s time to rethink Virginia Texh’s academic reputation.

    2. Daughter is a rising HS junior and we did virtual tour with VT admissions yesterday. Pres Sands and his administration is strongly committed to in person learning at all cost. I feel the same as you….. digital academics would not skip a beat. Tech touted itself as the Electronic Village model of all schools when I came through. You mean to tell me our campus cant go online for 2 to 3 months at the start of the semester so they crush the curve and protect their athletic revenue- oversight or mismanagement there perhaps.

  6. I will say that if the NCST game is cancelled, the season may just be over (for VT). Contact tracing of Covid-19, while necessary, can be like an infinite loop that you just don’t escape.

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