Virginia Tech Football Notes: Scout Team Offense Gets A Boost

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Justin Fuent, Virginia Tech
Justin Fuente is coaching the Virginia Tech scout team offense this week. (Ivan Morozov)

The Hokies practiced on Tuesday as they prepare for a matchup with #9 Miami on Saturday afternoon in Lane Stadium. The Hokies look to rebound from last weekend’s loss to Liberty and vault themselves back into the ACC Championship conversation.

“We came out and had a good Tuesday practice, just like I’m used to seeing us do after we lose,” wide receiver Tre Turner said. “It’s a tough loss to take, but we always have to turn the page and move on to next week.”

At 4-2 in conference play, Tech has no room for error as they prepare for a tough stretch run over the last month of the season. That starts this weekend with the Hurricanes, and here are three takeaways from the players’ session with the media ahead of Saturday’s game.

Coach Fuente Runs the Scout Team 

Tech will take on possibly their largest offensive test this season when Miami rolls into Blacksburg this weekend. Quarterback D’Eriq King is the third consecutive mobile passer that the Hokies will take on, but he also has been the most impressive this season.

“The scout team, Fu is leading scout team this week, so he’s definitely in there on them and making them work as hard as they can. We’re getting a really good look. It’s hard to simulate a guy like King,” linebacker Dax Hollifield said. “There’s a reason he’s in the Heisman race. Last week, when I watched him against NC State, he lit them up. I’m very impressed with him. I don’t think anybody can really simulate that, but we’re doing the best job we can.”

It’s rare for the head coach to lead the scout team during the week, but with the test that the Hurricanes’ offense presents, Fuente has decided to take preparation into his own hands.

“We’ve had some different guys try to imitate the different looks we’re going to get, but coach Fu running the scout team down there today, there was a lot more juice, a lot more excitement,” defensive tackle Jarrod Hewitt said. “Kind of just being more urgent. You know if the head man is over there running the scout team, you know you’re going to have to be giving it your all or giving it your best.”

Over the last two weeks, Malik Cunningham and Malik Willis stuffed the stat-sheet at quarterback. Having the head coach preparing for King may be the only way that the Hokies’ defense can truly get a good look.

Jermaine Waller Working His Way Back 

When Caleb Farley opted out due to COVID-19 over the summer, the negative impact on the secondary was expected to be limited because the Hokies had Jermaine Waller on the other side. That hasn’t been the case this season.

Waller has missed five games due to injury so far this season in most part due to foot surgery over the offseason. That injury stretches back further than many expected, as Waller says that he was playing with a fractured bone in his foot throughout the entire 2019 season.

“I got surgery on it after the season. I’ve been rehabbing throughout the pandemic, but things were messed up at the beginning because everything was closing,” Waller said. “It was kind of rough getting everything set up. I eventually got things right and was able to get the rehab that I needed.”

After finally returning to the lineup against North Carolina, Waller disappeared once again with an upper body injury before finally returning against Liberty.

“It’s been tough. I’ve just been trying to get back out there with the guys. Watching them and not being able to participate as much as I want to has been tough,” Waller said. “There’ve just been injuries that have been keeping me back from helping and doing what I need to do to help the team. It was just best for me to get things right. Everything is straight now.”

The secondary has not been a strong suit for the Hokies this season, so having Waller back will certainly help against an explosive offense like Miami’s. The hope is that Tech’s top corner is back to 100% and can play a big role down the stretch.

The Passing Offense Continues to Develop 

Khalil Herbert has been the dominant force for Tech’s offense this season as he has racked up over 800 yards in the six games that he has a carry. With Herbert sidelined with a hamstring injury on Saturday, the passing offense had to step up and make plenty of plays down the stretch to give the Hokies a chance.

Quarterback Hendon Hooker has stepped up in a big way over the last two weeks and added another dimension to the offense. In the last two games, Hooker is 30-37 for 400 yards with seven total touchdowns, including two huge touchdown drives late on Saturday to keep Tech in it.

“We knew that we could go out there and execute. I don’t really know where the doubt was. We’ve executed in two-minute situations,” Turner said. “Hendon is calm and poised. We go out there and run our routes and catch the ball, and it showed up in the game. That was new, I guess, but it was fun, and it was good to see it executed and work out in the game.”

Turner and the receivers have started to step up as well. On Saturday, Tech was missing their top pass-catcher, tight end James Mitchell. For the first time this season, the receiver group consistently made plays and opened up the field.

“It feels good knowing that coaches are getting more comfortable with guys, because everybody wants opportunities,” Turner said. “You have guys older than me that just transferred here who want opportunities. It’s just nice seeing guys on the field who haven’t been out there.”

There were questions about Hooker and the passing game as a whole after the junior threw three interceptions against Wake Forest three weeks ago. It seems like he has answered those questions and cemented himself as the Hokies’ long-term solution under center.

“I feel like he’s back in a groove. Wake Forest was a shaky game for him, we all saw that and talked about it after the game,” Turner said. “He turned it around the week after that, and you saw what he did last week. I feel like he’s in his groove, so we’re going to keep rolling on offense.”

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18 Responses You are logged in as Test

  1. Folks, there’s 3 keys to winning down the stretch – and they all involve the defense. 1) before the snap, all of the players except the 4 down linemen need to step up 2-3 yards, 2) get out of that silly zone secondary coverage, and get more pressure up front, 3) find some aggression – the guys are often tentative, afraid to miss a tackle. Of course, there’s offensive tweaks needed, but if we start limiting the other team to 20 points or less, it’s a H-O-K-I-E win!

  2. Our D isn’t going to fix the mess they are in one week.And unless Herbert can go we are loosing 1/2 of our all purpose yards.I don’t think his hamstring is torn,but it seems like VT trainers and Doctors are not doing a very good job of rehabbing dinged up players so they can go the next week.Without Herbert we win one more game maybe (PITT)With Herbert we have a chance to win them all except Clemson.

  3. Maybe everyone should take a chill pill and give this thing some time. The offense is good, better than tech fans are used to. The defense is atrocious right now, I grant you but it is a new defensive scheme different from bud foster and maybe it does take time to adjust. Look how bad Georgia Tech became once they got rid of that freaky offensive scheme. We don’t know what we don’t know. We haven’t been able to spy on mobile quarterback since Hall and Adibi. We got spoiled by those two guys, 911

  4. So he’s been demoted to coaching the scout team? Honestly didn’t see that coming but it’s a unique strategy. Virginia Tech, highest paid scout team coordinator in FBS, reinvent the future! (it’s sarcasm folks………or is it)

  5. $4 mil.a year coach-Go earn it or lose it.
    Player Talent is a major, major issue, undeniable. Of course that’s the big whistle. responsibility.

  6. who typically runs the scout team, and why is this a big deal? what advantage is it going to give us? how is it giong to make our defense be able to tackle, or be in the right hole, or know where to go in zone defense?

    1. It is like Beamer taking on the special teams. You have the head coach running scout team. It shows real emphasis. I can’t answer your question about who normally runs the offensive scout team? An assistant coach or GA?

      1. Typically one of the backup QBs that may have similarities to the opposing team’s QB runs the scout team offense.

        Ergo that helps the defense see things from their film study; of their upcoming opponent, in real time to practice against in preparation for the game.

  7. You’d think our coaches would have gotten the hang of going against mobile QBs by now since we’ve been getting burned by them for years but I guess not. So what were prepping for the last two games with Louisville and Liberty if not mobile QBs? And now on the 3rd mobile QB in a row Fu decides him coaching the Scout team will help us against King…I mean is coach going to be the Scout QB or what? (LOL) Sounds like a desperation move but I guess that’s what he’s down to sadly after losing to Liberty. Sigh…only 18 days until basketball though woohoo!!

    1. Everybody gets burned by mobile QBs unless you have vastly more talented players on defense, something that we don’t have. I would argue that Hamilton’s D is much better against running QBs than Foster’s was, but it’s way worse against straight up running backs,

      1. There you go again with it is probably the players. The coach gets a big fat contract and it his job to put the best possible lineup on the field. Yes, everyone wants to play and will probably not take themselves out because of this. It is still the HEAD COACH who has to make sure the best team is out on the field for every play. So don,t start with the players again. They are not getting paid that much to take the blame!

        1. What? The coaches ARE putting the best players out on the field. They are playing who they think gives us the best chance to win. But just because they are our best doesn’t mean they’re good enough or talented enough to succeed. Sometimes it IS the players.

        2. Disagree! When you see players take bad angles to the ball whether a pass or a run. That is on the player! Making the tackle vs diving at their feet. That’s on the player! Playing team defense is partly scheme but also doing YOUR job and not “over running” the ball which creates big plays.

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