Post-Game Quotes and Video: Virginia Tech-Virginia

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Virginia Tech Head Coach Justin Fuente

Opening Statement

I just want to congratulate our football team, and everybody associated with the team who has worked so hard to pull this season off. This has been a trying season, and it has nothing to do with wins and losses. I told the TV people that when we were 2-0, we were miserable too. Every head coach that I’ve talked to at midfield has talked about how hard this has been. I just want to congratulate [them] for battling through all of the ups and downs and sticking together. It’s a fantastic example of what you can accomplish if you put yourself aside and don’t listen to everybody else and try to focus on your team and craft. I was just really pleased that those kids got rewarded today. They’ve done a lot this year for this school and for the league. I’m talking about all of the kids that have played this season, not just our kids, but the kids at Virginia and up and down the league. It’s been really difficult, and we found a way to pull it off. Obviously, I’m pleased to get the win and it speaks to a lot of the lessons that we talk about in terms of continuing to work hard and never giving up. It’s a pretty cool locker room down there right now. That’s a pretty cool group of kids.

On the defense’s performance…

I feel like we have gotten better. I thought we played better defensively last week. I know we were playing Clemson, but I felt better about our performance. We have worked the fundamentals which has helped, but I think we’ve been in better positions which has helped more than anything. Over the last couple of weeks, I think we’ve played faster and been fresher. Part of that is because they haven’t been on the field as much, and the other part is that we’re finally getting an understanding of what we’re trying to accomplish. I can’t tell you how difficult it’s been. We really had no fall camp, either, it was really disjointed. I felt good about the way our guys played. We looked fast and rarely were out of position.

On the running game…

The big plays were nice to have back. It seems like it’s been a little while, and we’ve had to grind some things out, but to have the big runs was big. It was hard sledding in there, too. I know we had good numbers, but there were several runs that went for no gain or negative yards. We were fortunate to hit some creases and get some long ones and that definitely helped us out.

On the stops after Virginia gained momentum…

Those were big plays. I have liked our demeanor in terms of responding to adversity, but we haven’t always pulled it off. I do think that our kids have made a conscious effort to respond, but we haven’t always executed or pulled it off. Today, we did on those two occasions. I thought it was great how they took the field. I felt like we played fast on the defensive side of the ball.

On the Gatorade bath at the end of the game…

It was totally by surprise. I wish they would have waited for another minute or so on the clock. I was totally shocked. I’m glad it was as warm as it was.

On how meaningful that win was…

I see our kids every day and I know what they’re doing and how hard they’re working and how much they care. They know how I feel about them too. It’s a cool group. You can talk about the record or the close losses, but the bottom line is that through incredibly adverse circumstances, these kids stuck together and played their tails off for each other and for Virginia Tech. I would be saying the same thing if we hadn’t won. They should be commended for that.

On Braxton Burmeister…

The plays that stick out to me were early in the game. On third down, when the play kind of broke down and he got on the move and found a way to keep those drives alive. We were finding our footing in the game. I don’t know how many there were, but it seems like there were a few when he ends up moving in the pocket and finding a guy right at the sticks to keep the drive alive. I thought those were really important.

On the decision to start Burmeister…

I felt like he gave us the best chance to win under the circumstances that we’ve been dealing with. He went out there and played his tail off.

On Khalil Herbert’s touchdown run…

I didn’t know how long it took him, but I know that he hasn’t gotten caught in those situations very many times this year. It was really nice to have somebody that can finish those runs. We’ve talked many times about making the unblocked hat miss and making a long run. He was able to do that on multiple occasions this season.

On his relief after the win…

I understand coaching football at Virginia Tech and I understand that it’s important to a lot of people. That makes it a good thing. I don’t concern myself with anybody other than a small group of people and that’s the players, the coaches, the staff, my family and God. I sleep really well at night if I’m in line with those people. The biggest thing for this is a sigh of relief that the regular season is over. Win, lose, whatever, this thing is a wrap and that’s a huge relief. I wish I was a better orator to describe to you how difficult it has been, and it has nothing to do with winning or losing games. The strain and the stress on everybody have been remarkable. I’ve had 11 conversations at midfield, and they’ve all been the same before each game. This is just the hardest thing that anybody has tried to pull off, and some people have only played four games. They have no idea what it’s like to do what we’ve tried to do. I can’t say enough about our young people.

On whether the team has talked about playing in a bowl…

No, we have not. We’ll talk about that tomorrow. I’m going to talk to the team about it tomorrow and decide as a team.

On Tayvion Robinson’s long touchdown…

That was huge. I don’t think the route should have been open in the coverage, but we were able to hold the ball a little bit longer than normal. Braxton kind of slid over there and found Tayvion. He finally got into the end zone. You think about how many times in his career that Tayvion has had those big plays and always goes down inside the five. He finally got in that time. It was a huge bonus play for us because we were just hoping to get a field goal. It was a similar situation where they had all of their timeouts and you really didn’t want them to get the ball back. You’re trying to get it punched out of there and then you want to go operate. Boom, you hit a big play and you feel like it’s bonus points.

On Oscar Bradburn’s situation…

He had a pulled hamstring today, so he could hold, but he could not punt. Peter Moore was the punter the whole game. It was kind of a sad situation because it was senior day. He’s been fighting it for a while and was always able to go. We gave him several days off this week, but he just couldn’t go.

On Divine Deablo…

Not to get too sentimental, but the good Lord made a beautiful person in Divine Deablo. There is not a better heart out there. He is selfless, hard-working, intelligent, happy, pleasant. To see him go play like that and influence the game like that to send him out the right way, it’s not just me that’s affected by it. People in that locker room are playing and those type of people inspire you. He’s one of the many examples we have of an inspirational person and football player.

Jalen Holston Virginia Tech
Jalen Holston (Virginia Tech Athletics)

On Jalen Holston…

He’s really come on strong. He showed up from COVID in great shape and had been a huge contributor on special teams. He’s worked his way into a bigger and bigger role. We had a little bit of an issue, particularly early in the year, figuring out Raheem [Blackshear] and Jalen, and Khalil was just going crazy. Jalen just stuck to it, played really hard and has played a huge role over the last couple of weeks.

On playing in a bowl game…

We haven’t talked about it. I’ve said that it’s all up in the air and we need to focus on this before we talk about it. I don’t know. I know how I feel, but I’m not going to say anything. I want them to get what they want. They deserve that, so we’ll see.

On the emotions of the night…

We’re trying to teach so many things that I believe are really important to these kids’ futures. There are so many forces pushing them in the opposite direction from not quitting, working hard, being honest, doing things the right way, doing your best every single time, trusting others, being selfless. All of these things in this world continue to change, and it seems, teach other things. When you have a group that begins to shun those other things and believe those core values, you want to see them have success. For me, that’s what it’s about is to see those guys have success. That’s why you work hard and are selfless, so you can enjoy those moments. I’m just really happy that they were able to enjoy the scene and the camaraderie and the relief of winning a rivalry game.

On Dorian Strong…

I’ve been really pleased with Dorian. He’s a really young player that has no conscience. He just gets out there and plays. When he started in the Duke game early in the year, you’re wondering how he’s going to respond after he got beat on a double move. He got the guy on the ground in the Duke game and just popped up and got ready to play the next play. That’s been his attitude the whole time. He works hard to get better, and he’s a good player that I think is only going to get better if he stays the course. I’m pleased to see him get an interception and the zig-zag return all over the place. I was just screaming for him to take care of the ball. It’s fun to see him have some success.

On missing players every week…

We don’t have 16 COVID cases right now. We’re pretty well through all of that. It’s just been an unbelievable example of a group of people that have to be ready at a moment’s notice to work together, fill holes and morph their roles to try and help the team. That’s been the biggest thing with all of it. I think it’s cool that our staff has done a great job of that too. Early in the year, we were shuffling people all over the place.

On his players being ready to go on gameday…

I’ll answer that question with a compliment; the team that we just played plays really hard. I think our team got really tired of me telling them how hard they play. I take a lot of pride in how we try to teach. I know there’s a bigger picture to what we do than wins and losses. Our job is different than that, and we all take a lot of pride because we’re in this for the right reasons. We played against another coach today who is in it for the right reasons. We enjoy teaching and trying to get the best out of young people. I do take pride in those things, and I think our kids should too.

Khalil Herbert Virginia Tech
Khalil Herbert runs through the endzone on his 76 yard touchdwn play. (Matt Gentry/The Roanoke Times via AP, Pool)

Virginia Tech Running Back Khalil Herbert

On his long touchdown run…

The guys up front did a great job opening up a hole for me to run through. I promised the guys that I wouldn’t get caught from behind again after the BC game, so I just had to get in the endzone.

On breaking big runs…

Just being able to score right then and there is huge instead of risking the drive stalling out and having us kick a field goal. It’s great to get it in the endzone on those big plays.

On Braxton Burmeister…

He went out there and balled. He came in there poised and got used to everything. He came in and did his thing today, so I’m proud of him.

On the mood of the team…

Guys are just happy because we had a rough couple of weeks. Being able to finish with a big dub over our rival is definitely a great feeling. Guys are happy that the Cup is back home, that’s something we really wanted to do this year.

On having a big game after slowing down over the last month…

I wasn’t really thinking about it. I just wanted to get back to being able to help the team. Just being able to help the team and the offense and get healthy was my goal.

On whether he’ll come back…

It’s not 100% yet. I’m going to talk to my parents and the coaches about it. That’s something we’ll talk about later on.

On playing in the Commonwealth Clash…

It was just fun with guys jumping around, and it got a little chippy. There were a lot of emotions for everybody. That was actually my first rivalry game win. To be able to get it done and celebrate with my brothers was something that I’d never experienced before, so it was a lot of fun.

On the offensive line…

The guys are pushing and opening big holes and doing their job. That’s a talented, talented group of guys up front. Guys switch in and play different positions. A bunch of guys in that room are really great at what they do and I’m so excited to see what they can do in the future.

On snapping the losing streak…

Just being in the locker room with these guys, there’s no quitting mentality in them. We’ve had a rough go, but we fight through and we figure it out. We fight and we battle. I never had that thought in my mind because I know that guys are going to fight and battle and leave it all out there for the seniors.

On Tayvion Robinson’s touchdown…

It was definitely big. Everybody was telling him to get out of bounds, but he knew what he could do. I was joking with him because he always gets tackled inside the five. He made a really big play for us going into the locker room. Guys wanted to finish the job. We knew we had a good first half, but we had another half to go. The mindset was to just finish it out.

On a possible bowl game…

I’d definitely love to play in a bowl. I’ve never been to a bowl game, so that would be something great to keep the streak going. I guess we’ll see what happens.

Virginia Tech Wide Receiver Tayvion Robinson
Tayvion Robinson breaks free for a 60-yard TD catch. (Virginia Tech Athletics)

Virginia Tech Wide Receiver Tayvion Robinson

On his touchdown…

It felt good to score the touchdown and get one step closer to bringing the Cup back. They always joke around with me about getting tackled on big plays, so getting in there was exciting. I was very happy.

On how he broke the tackle to score…

We work drills like that in practice. Once we catch the ball, we tuck it and turn up field because you never know if you’ll break the tackle. In that scenario I did. Once I got by him, I saw space and realized that I was in bounds, so I just went to score. That was big going into halftime, it gave us momentum as we pushed towards the win.

On Braxton Burmeister…

He played a great game. He did exactly what the coaches needed and exactly what the team needed. It just shows that all of those guys in that room are capable of making plays, we even saw Knox [Kadum] step in last week. This week it was Braxton, and I was just happy to see him succeed.

On Herbert’s touchdown…

He’s faster, but between me and him, I’ll never let him know that. Seeing him break that was really impressive. That’s the fastest I’ve seen him run this year. After the Boston College game, the other guys were joking with him for getting caught. He’s fast, but it’s very deceiving because he has size too. It’s pretty cool.

On playing in a bowl game…

We don’t really know much, but I think if we have a chance to go to a bowl game and extend the streak, we would.

On Hendon Hooker…

I think we could’ve won it with any quarterback. Our confidence in him hasn’t changed. He has a condition where he gets really cold and last week was really cold. Whenever one quarterback goes down, another has to step up and that happened tonight.

On the feeling after the big win…

It’s a feeling that is hard to explain. That was my first time winning the Cup and beating UVA. The emotion and seeing all of those guys happy, it was especially big to send the seniors out with a big win. It’s still going through me.

Virginia Tech Safety Divine Deablo
Divine Deablo sticks UVA’s Brennan Armstrong (Virginia Tech Athletics)

Virginia Tech Safety Divine Deablo

On the defense’s performance…

I think that was my best performance and the defense’s best performance.

On whether he saw the performance coming…

I had a feeling this week. I watched a lot of film and saw certain throws that the quarterback makes that I had opportunities to make big hits this week.

On his relationship with Coach Fuente…

Usually, he works with the offense, so I don’t see him a ton, but I love Fuente. He’s just a people person, and I love being around him. I’d do anything for the guy. I came in with Fuente; I was a Beamer recruit, but I came in with Fuente. Every step of the way, he’s had my back and I appreciate him. He came to my high school and made sure that I knew that they were still very interested in me and they wanted me to come up to VT. The second conversation we had was in his office when he asked me to switch to DB. He was very supportive through all of that, and I appreciate him.

On a bowl game…

I want one more opportunity to play with my brothers.

On his feeling throughout the day…

Before the game, I didn’t feel any different. Actually, last year, I got a personal foul because one of their receivers pulled me by my facemask out of bounds. I just remembered that and channeled the anger that I had that day into this game.

On his interception…

I was very happy. The first one caught me off guard because the tight end was in front of me and I only got one hand up. The second one, I read it all the way through and made sure I caught it. I wasn’t dropping that one.

On fighting through adversity…

My teammates are very resilient, and I appreciate each and every one of them. Especially this year, to go through all of this. We said we were going to go out and win this game for the seniors. They poured their hearts out on the field and I appreciate them.

On the defense’s thoughts going into halftime…

As a defense, we wanted to keep the same energy and the same intensity and not let up. At halftime, we said the score was still 0-0 and we wanted to keep going.

Virginia Tech Quarterback Braxton Burmeister
(Virginia Tech Athletics)

Virginia Tech Quarterback Braxton Burmeister

On his performance…

It was huge. I’ve been preparing from the jump to have this opportunity and our team took advantage of it.

On playing in a bowl game…

It’s another game, so let’s get it.

On his foot injury…

It was pretty bad and definitely didn’t feel good. When it happened, my stomach got queasy and I knew that they were broken. As time went on, they’ve healed really well, so I feel good about them now.

On how he read the UVA defense…

Coach Corn and Coach Fuente prepared me really well for this game. Every snap, I felt like I knew what I was looking at. I felt comfortable with what they were doing, what we were doing and I knew where the ball should go. It was pretty easy tonight.

On the defense’s performance…

Our defense played amazing. Every time that UVA had the ball, we were looking at our defense get those stops and it motivated us to go down and score. They really shut them down and had an amazing performance.

On the team’s fight…

We all know that the person to our left and the person to our right is going to step up and fight. We had a good feeling about this one all week and we were really excited to go get the Cup back. I think you guys saw that tonight.

On Tayvion Robinson’s touchdown…

He had a curl, and my first read was in the middle of the field. The safeties rotated away from it. He had had one-on-one matchup and Tayvion can make big plays all of the time. That was a huge play, and it gave us some momentum heading to the half.

Virginia Tech Tyrell Smith
This is Tyrell Smith, not Brock Hoffman. But it’s a great pic. (Virginia Tech Athletics)

Virginia Tech Center Brock Hoffman

On Braxton’s performance…

He played really, really well. I feel like he threw the ball around, ran really well and led us as a team on the offensive side of the ball. He led us to victory and played well.

On playing in his first Commonwealth Clash…

We [Burmeister] watched the game together last year. As the game wound down and we ended up losing, I looked at Braxton and he said, ‘We’re going to get it back next year.’ It was kind of cool how Braxton prepared all year for this moment and we ended up getting it back.

On snapping the losing streak…

It’s a cleansing feeling to get a win against these guys as much as they talked when we were supposed to play early in the season. It came up and bit them in the butt.

On a bowl game…

I’ve never played in a bowl game, so I’d definitely like to.

On cigars in the locker room…

I had about 14 that I was passing out to the boys, but a bunch of guys brought five or six, so we passed them out and had a good time.

On the celebration in the locker room…

It was really fun. We’ve been on a losing streak, so to get a win against these guys meant a lot.

On his penalties last week…

Coach Vice talked to me on Sunday and said that I would still be the guy going forward, but I have to play smarter and I really focused on that tonight. I still tried to keep my edge and play aggressive and get into the other team’s head, but I also had to stay smart in moments when I was teetering on that line. I focused on that and stayed penalty-free this game.

On the defense’s performance…

A lot of that had to do with their preparation throughout the week. Whether that was with scout-team or good-on-good. They did a great job preparing. You could see tonight that they were playing fast.

On the halftime mood…

Our mood was that we were still hungry. We wanted to put up as many points as we could against them. We were still really hungry, and we wanted to keep scoring and be efficient.

 

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12 Responses You are logged in as Test

  1. “I don’t care what people think other than x, y, z…”

    I hear the contempt and I’m sure sometimes its justified. What he would like to say is “F the boosters and fans that are disappointed we are underperforming”

    That being said, Fuente is responsible for the product(football) that the consumers (boosters and fans) accept or don’t accept. When he goes out of his way to zing those people it just reminds everyone he probably doesn’t have the attitude to be successful. His employer (VT) is just the middle man…

    1. I didn’t take it as a zing comment. He said his focus is on his team, coaches, family & God. He can’t worry about the other stuff and concentrate on his job.

  2. Great read and quotes. Sounds like the players genuinely want to play in a bowl game. My gut says Fuente doesn’t want to and may not have a choice but I hope if that’s the case that it doesn’t ruin it for the players and Hokie Nation’s opportunity to play one more game, cheer on our Hokies once more, and continue the streak.

  3. It is really interesting to read what the players have to say and to understand their thoughts and feelings. You realize what a great group of guys they are. Glad they are Hokies!

    1. I wish I heard Diablo’s comment from other sources too. It felt isolated. I don’t get that vibe from across the program.

  4. I called this team out last week and was a little critical of their effort lately so I gladly come here today to eat crow . They brought it yesterday. Proud of everyone of players and coaches. You played Hokie football men. Thank you .

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