Post-game Quotes: Virginia Tech Over Louisville

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Justin Fuente Virginia Tech
(Virginia Tech Athletics)

Virginia Tech Head Coach Justin Fuente

Opening Statement

I’m awfully proud of our guys. Congratulations to our players and staff. They had a great response today. It wasn’t always pretty, but we found a way to get the job done. Except for one play, I was really proud of our run defense. This is a team that really prides itself in running the stretch. They can really run it and I thought we defended it well except for one play right before the half. Obviously, we weren’t as good in the passing game as we’d like to be.

Offensively, we were efficient in the passing game and ran the ball decently well and found a way to get a win. I think the coolest part of it is just seeing our response after that gut punch we took right at the end of the first half with the long run. I was really proud of the way our guys were in the locker room at halftime. They were really anxious to get back out there. Things could have gone in the tank pretty easily there because we had dominated most of the half and found ourselves only up by seven.

On the energy on the sideline…

This is a game that is played with emotion and it’s more so the guys that aren’t in the game continuing to support the guys on the field. I think what disappointed me the most is that’s something we harp on in practice and actually practice doing it. When we scrimmage and we practice, it’s something that we do all the time. We didn’t do a very good job of it last week.  I think our guys listened to the message this week which is encouraging. They took the coaching there and put it on display. It’s difficult to do all of the time, but when we do those things, we have a chance to be a much better football team. If we want to be a good football team, we’ll have to do those things week-in and week-out.

On Hendon Hooker’s response from last week…

We were much more efficient. I didn’t know it was ten-for-ten and I didn’t know we only threw it ten times. He certainly was efficient and operated on a much quicker basis, I felt like. The tempo and the pace of his operation and his play was sharp and on point. It was a really good response from him.

On the onside kicks…

I feel great about our special teams coordinator. When it comes to details and technique, he is the best that I’ve ever seen at coaching those things. We have a hands unit that has some experience, not just from this year, but many of the guys on there are experienced players. It’s always a nerve-wracking play because there’s 15 or 20 different motions or formations that can happen really quickly. Teams are getting really good and Louisville is really good at scheming those things up. What really makes you uneasy is when there’s like six minutes to go in the game. You’re trying to figure out whether to put your return unit out there or your hands unit. Once we burnt that timeout, we decided to put the hands unit back out there and I thought they did a really good job today. I was really impressed.

On Javian Hawkins’ 90-yard touchdown…

I’m not really positive [what happened], to be honest with you. It hit and broke and the boundary safety couldn’t make the play. Obviously, we were playing just short of prevent defense there and it creased and he can run, really run. They have enough people to block our guys in the box which should get it to the safety and get tackled and go into half. Obviously, that didn’t happen.

On the response after taking a sack to start the second half…

[James Mitchell’s catch] was big. We came out and busted the protection on first down, not on the offensive line. It put us behind the chains on something we should’ve at least been hatted up. Then, to come back and respond with what amounted to basically four verts to James on play action on second and long. Either get us the first down or get us really close to it, I thought that was a big momentum play there.

On the passing efficiency…

If you had asked me on Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday, Friday and Saturday morning if we were only going to throw the ball ten times, I would’ve probably said you’re crazy, but that would be a good sign. We didn’t intend to have it look like that, but it did. The ten passes were really efficient and I’m glad we had them.

On Alan Tisdale…

He’s talented and he can really run. I think what’s allowed him to continue to improve is his attention to detail and improvement in learning the system and learning to play linebacker instead of just being a guy that’s out there running around. He spent extra time on that and he’s in a great place mentally and emotionally to develop his skillset. He’s reaping the benefits by playing really well.

On defending Louisville’s offense…

It seemed like there were half-a-dozen plays where we were right there, but just couldn’t get the guy on the ground. Then, he breaks a tackle and throws a touchdown or runs. The quarterback is a really good player, then you throw the tailback on top of it and then #1 and some of the bigger guys on the outside and the play action game. We succeeded in my opinion. You look at the stats and see yards rushing and that’s really just one big rush. The rest of the day, I thought we did a really good job against the run, but we didn’t make enough plays defending the pass as I would have anticipated that we would’ve. Our guys kept fighting and battling and playing the next play, but that is an explosive offense.

On if there was increased pressure on the offense…

Certainly, you come into the game knowing that they’re going to score. We created a few turnovers in the first half that were huge, but you know you have to be efficient on the other side of the ball to give yourself a chance because they are so dangerous offensively and can put you in a bind so quickly with their ability to run the stretch play and the play action off of that. Their quarterback, I don’t know how much credit he gets because I don’t read much about what everyone thinks of him, but he throws the ball pretty darn well.

On the defensive line…

It’s brutal. In the pass game, it’s rush the passer, but don’t run past the quarterback because he can run. In the run game, it’s chase the stretch, but also defend the bootleg. That’s the crux that they’ve got you up against. You have to mix up your calls and your responsibilities to help that stuff out in order to get a pass rush, but if the quarterback gets out on you, it’s a nightmare. It’s really difficult, but I thought our guys played well and were effective. I thought the guys on the inside played well too against the run. They certainly make it difficult. We were down a couple of guys and we hadn’t anticipated bringing Ty [Garbutt] until late in the week when we found out we’d be down two guys. We figured if he could give a guy a spell and play eight or ten snaps, that would help us out.

On Tre Turner…

I thought he played well. It was also good to see Tayvion make the big play on the post route and it was good to get Tre back going and feeling good. Those guys and James on the outside are our three guys and we’re continuing to bring the other guys along. It was nice to see them be productive and have a good time out there.

On the mood at halftime…

It was pretty cool. I was formulating what to say because that was a gut punch. We were up 21-7 and basically have them pinned deep and were going into halftime up 14. Then, boom, that happens. You walk into the locker room and my intention was to remind everybody that we’re still up by seven and there’s nothing we can do about that play. We’ve played really well, but we needed to play a little bit better to go win. You feel a lot better when you walk into the locker room and hear the conversations that are going on. Guys are fired up to get back out there and they’re not happy about what just happened. They’re saying the same things that the coaches are saying. I addressed them really quick with what I just said, but in some ways, I felt like they had it and they understood it. They knew what I was going to say well before I said it.

On Hooker…

He was really efficient. He was what we need him to be and what we think he has the potential to be. That’s what he’s done in basically every game he’s ever played except for one. He hasn’t won every game as the starter, but he’s played pretty well with the exception of one game. He went out there and played like the Hendon Hooker we’ve all become accustomed to and I’ll remind him we won, so he’s going to get more credit than the quarterback deserves. Just like last week, he probably got more blame than the quarterback deserves. He was really good.

Tre Turner Virginia Tech
(Virginia Tech Athletics)

Tre Turner

On his big catch after he got called for holding…

That’s just how it unfolded. I really didn’t think it was holding. That’s just what happened. I knew they were going to leave me on the field and the coaches weren’t mad at me. Maybe they were a little bit mad, but they were going to trust me to make the next play. I said that’s my fault and then on the next play, I just went and executed.

On whether it was the plan to get him more involved…

That’s just what happened. It’s just the feel. Whatever Cornelsen was feeling, that’s what he did.

On the mood at halftime…

We all came into the locker room ready to go for the third quarter. Jarrod Hewitt came in, that’s our captain, he came in because he was out for the first half. Him talking to the team before the start of the third quarter, that gave us all of the juice we needed. We knew it was a bad play, but we knew we were ready to go.

On what Hewitt said…

He wasn’t mad or anything. He was just telling everybody that it’s just one play, offense is about to go on the field and get a touchdown. It was nothing. Nobody was upset about the big play. Of course, you don’t like when big plays happen.

On the energy on the sideline…

The energy was different the whole day. You could see the look on everybody’s face. We had energy from the first kick to the last kick on the sideline and you saw what happened in the game. We led the whole game. The energy did make a big difference for us because this is the most fans we’ve played with this season. So, we had our backs against the wall, but we came together and won the game.

On whether the offense felt like they had to score every drive…

I don’t want to speak for the whole team, but I know that when we’re on offense, we want to score every time we’re on the field. It’s not like it’s just this team or that game. Every time we’re on the field, we want to put points on the board.

On Alan Tisdale…

Alan and I grew up together since we were little kids, so I’ve seen him go from a running back to a linebacker. He was the best running back in the city and now he’s a linebacker. He had a great game today. He can do it all, I wouldn’t label him as a coverage linebacker or hybrid or anything. He’s just a player and he loves to play football. He’s got heart and that’s what I talked about earlier this week; we have a lot of guys with heart on this team.

On only throwing ten passes…

The way I see it, we threw ten passes and we won the game. It’s not tough, that’s just how it works. As a team, you have to do what you have to do. Playing receiver, it’s not like I’m frustrated when we’re throwing it less and running it more. If we’re running it and it’s working and we’re getting yards and we’re winning, I’m good. I know the receiving room is good. We put a lot of work in on blocking this year because we knew we weren’t where we needed to be last year. We put a big emphasis on that this year because we knew what type of backs we had in the backfield.

On Hendon Hooker’s mentality…

Just based on the conversations we had last night at the hotel and today before the game, we had so much confidence coming into this game. Coming off of a loss, I don’t see us coming into the next game and looking like we weren’t ready to play. I knew Hendon was going to ball out today, regardless.

Chamarri Conner Virginia Tech
(Virginia Tech Athletics)

Chamarri Conner

On his interception…

I thought he was going to throw it out of bounds. I was just trying to stay in the window so no matter if he threw it or not, I could make a play on the ball. I thought he was going to throw it out of bounds, but he threw it right to me.

On the 90-yard touchdown run…

We’ve got to watch the film tomorrow and clean it up, but we came back after the first half and were ready to play. Everybody in the locker room was ready to get it going.

On Alan Tisdale…

He gets to the ball so fast. He’s out there hunting and runs to the ball full speed no matter what, every play. I feel like that’s a big part of his game, chasing the ball.

On the halftime mood…

We came into the locker room and everybody was still hype and locked in. We knew that they were going to have a little bit more momentum, but we were locked in and knew we had to come out and handle our business.

On the three interceptions…

Those were huge plays because every time we got a turnover, they had a little bit of momentum. On mine, it was fourth down trying to get in the endzone. On Deablo’s, they were in the middle of the field trying to make a play. On DT’s, that was when they were trying to get going. I think getting the first one, messed his head up a little bit.

On Malik Cunningham…

It’s always challenging when you have a running quarterback who can extend plays, especially when they can get the ball to their receivers too. That was very challenging. We knew we had to swarm and chase him down to play it the best that we can.

(Virginia Tech Athletics)

Alan Tisdale…

On the 90-yard touchdown run…

It was just gap assignments. We didn’t let that affect us. Going into halftime, we were hype. We were ready to go back out there.

On his back-to-back stops to force a turnover on downs…

I have to execute better because my assignment was actually the quarterback and the end was supposed to handle the running back. I just knew that they were going for the dive, but I have to do my assignment better overall.

On trying to stop Louisville’s offense…

It’s pretty tough playing against a mobile quarterback. I don’t know how fast he runs the 40, but I bet it’s like a 4.4. He’s got some wheels on him. It’s pretty hard, but we’re up for the challenge.

On the energy on the sideline…

Last week, we had no energy. This week, we had all the energy on offense and defense. The guys on special teams and the back ups were all on the sideline with energy. That’s what we need every game.

On his growth as a run defender…

I’ve gotten with the guys like Rook [Rayshard Ashby] and Dax Hollifield outside of practice. I’ve also connected with Coach Claeys and Coach Jack [Tyler] to try and work on the run fits more. I’m still trying to learn everything and execute everything.

Hendon Hooker Virginia Tech
(Jamie Rhodes-ACC Pool)

Hendon Hooker

On the response after the 90-yard touchdown…

Honestly, just coming back into the locker room, I overheard Coach Hamilton reminding us that we’ve been in this position before, last year against Miami. They made a big play at the end of the half when we were gaining momentum and the momentum switched after that one play. He said to come back out and keep the energy up.

On the first drive of the second half…

Whenever we get positive plays, it’s really big. Just coming out and executing at the beginning of the half is crucial and we did that.

On only throwing ten passes…

It was going to be a really air-raid type of game this week, but they gave us some good looks to run the ball so that’s what we did.

On completing all ten passes…

Every day, my main goal is to complete every pass and be a smart quarterback in tough situations. That’s what I did today, and it turned out for a victory.

On if he’s ever had a game with no incompletions…

I got very close in my sophomore year of high school. I was eight-for-nine for 218 and two touchdowns. It was close.

On having three rushing touchdowns…

However the offense needs me to play, that’s what I’ll do. If they need me to run it, then I’ll run it, but if they need me to throw it, then I’ll throw it.

On Louisville’s lack of DE’s…

Before the game, Coach Fuente told us that they have some guys out on the defensive line, but we just have to stick to our game plan. When you get news like that before the game, you can’t let it affect your game plan. We just came out and played football as we do day-in and day-out.

On jumping over the pile for the touchdown…

As long as I protect the ball, that’s what matters. It was fourth down and I didn’t want to leave any doubt. When we were in the huddle, Jalen Holston said, ‘Hey Hen, you may want to just leap over the pile.’ Shout out to Jalen for that.

On getting fired up after his touchdowns…

Normally, I’m an even keel guy, but today, my guys were giving me great energy and I wanted to reciprocate that. Keeping the energy high was my main goal.

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11 Responses You are logged in as Test

  1. I had to listen to the first half of the game on the radio – had the Louisville announcers. They spent A LOT of time talking about the energy on the VT sideline and how VT showed up ready to play. They were a bit perplexed at our second our third series, when we opened with two consecutive passing plays…given our success running the ball and the fact that Louisville was down several D linemen due to COVID…

  2. Why did Louisville have to re-kick their last onsides attempt? It looked like it had been successful for them.

      1. How much time is allowed for a kickoff.? We really got lucky on that oversight on Louisville’s part.

  3. I think it’s safe to say that the guys definitely received the message from
    Coach Fu about the lack of energy on the sidelines the previous week. And it seemed tthat the players really appreciated and understood the need for the energy and how positive it was for them.

  4. Great addition. I enjoy listening to our players talk and share their sharp intelligence and good humor. Nice to read to fully grasp their words.

    1. I was upset about it!!!!

      Why we didn’t have 1-2 guys at the 40-50 yard line with 8 seconds left in the half is what I want to know. I can’t say I care much for the spread on the onside kickoffs either. Leaves way too much field open. And when are our defenders going to WRAP UP when they tackle (or rather attempt to)?

      1. regarding the spread on the kickoffs, it’s a bit unconventional but I think the idea is to get all the big dudes out of the path of the ball, so that it doesn’t bounce off them or they don’t bobble an attempted catch. that also gives the receivers (1 per side of field) a clear view of what the ball is doing.

    2. That’s what he said but I think he meant that they immediately had to put it behind them. What’s done is done. No use letting the play beat them twice. Unlike me, where I was freaking out about it the entire half and up until we made it 28-14. Of course they were upset.

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