Virginia Tech Football: QB Injury Update, Two-Point Conversion Dilemma, and Targeting

Virginia Tech head coach Justin Fuente said quarterback Braxton Burmeister should be a “full-go” this Saturday. (Ivan Morozov)

Virginia Tech head coach Justin Fuente addressed reporters on Monday morning after the Hokies’ gut-wrenching loss to Notre Dame and provided an injury update for Tech’s two quarterbacks.

Starter Braxton Burmeister “should be a full-go” this week, according to Fuente, while backup Connor Blumrick is “out indefinitely.”

“Everything I’ve heard is that he [Braxton Burmeister] will be good to go this week,” Fuente said. As for Blumrick, Fuente guesses that “he’ll be back at some point this year.”

Burmeister left the game with 3:17 to play in the third quarter after taking a shot on a five-yard rush on third and ten.

Blumrick entered the game in his stay and played two drives. The Hokies punted on the first one, and Blumrick played the first six snaps of the second one before leaving the game with an injury on a second-and-six scramble.

Burmeister came back in to finish the game and actually scored on a 19-yard touchdown run to cap off the drive that Blumrick started. He was holding his right shoulder as he jogged back to the sidelines after the score, and postgame, Burmeister said his right arm was numb.

“I landed on my shoulder weird and my arm kind of went numb, so I was just kind of dealing with the numbness,” Burmeister said. “I was just dealing with the numbness. As soon as I got the numbness good, I was ready to go back in.”

Burmeister finished the game with 15 completions on 30 attempts and one interception. He threw for 184 yards and was Virginia Tech’s leading rusher with 49 yards and a touchdown. Blumrick rushed for 29 yards and completed two of his four passes for three yards.

Two-Point Conversion Dilemma

Up 22-21 after Jermaine Waller’s pick six with 50 seconds to play in the third quarter, Fuente & Co. opted to go for a two-point conversion instead of kicking the extra point.

On the first attempt from the three-yard line, tight end Nick Gallo was called for a false start. That backed up Tech to the eight, but Fuente still decided to go for it. 

The Hokies didn’t get it, as Blumrick threw an interception to Notre Dame linebacker Bo Bauer, keeping it a one-point game. On Monday, Fuente said if he could go back and do it again, he would’ve opted to kick the extra point there.

Virginia Tech head coach Justin Fuente said he’d go back and kick an extra point instead of going for two if he could. (Ivan Morozov)

“The boiled down version is if you’re up by one in the fourth quarter, you go for two,” Fuente said. “We weren’t actually in the fourth quarter, but there was 23 seconds or whatever it was in the third. If I had to do it over again, I would’ve put the field goal unit on after we jumped offsides.

“I kind of got my pride and my piss off-edness got in the way of making a good decision there, and I hurt the football team, and it hurts me bad. It bothers me a lot.”

Instead of it being a two-point game, 23-21, it was a one-point difference. After Burmeister scampered into the end zone on his 19-yard score, it was an eight-point game. Had Fuente kicked it, it would’ve been nine and the Irish would’ve needed another score. But the touchdown with 2:26 to play and the ensuing two-point conversion tied the score at 29.

From there, Jonathan Doerer kicked a 48-yard field goal to seal the Irish victory.

Dax Hollifield’s Targeting Call And Changing The Rule

Much of the discussion during Monday’s press conference centered around targeting. Tech linebacker Dax Hollifield was ejected late in the fourth quarter, forcing the Hokies to play without their defensive captain.

“It was so fast and a bang-bang play,” Fuente said. “I’m not sure if there’s anything Dax could’ve done to hit the guy low, but he was going to defend the pass. It’s a call in college football we’re all going to have to live with.”

Ironically, it was Hollifield that mentioned targeting to the media after the Richmond game. Here’s his full quote to a question from Aaron McFarling of the Roanoke Times:

“To be honest, it scares you nowadays,” Hollifield said. “If you have a big hit nowadays, you’re more worried about if you’re going to get thrown out of the game. That’s really what goes through my mind and a lot of players’ minds nowadays, and I don’t really think that’s how football should be played, but it was a great hit. It also goes with fundamentals. We’ve been working a lot on tackling and the fundamentals of the game. Getting your head across, your eyes up, working on that, and it shows on the field.

“I look for the laundry and then go, ‘we’re good, we’re good. You’ve seen it. The Auburn-Penn St. game, Zakoby McClain, that was heartbreaking. There’s not much you can really do about anything anymore. You really just have to be a fundamental tackler and really just trust in that.”

Virginia Tech linebacker Dax Hollifield was ejected due to a targeting penalty in the fourth quarter against the Irish. (Ivan Morozov)

It’s a topic that Fuente spent a lot of time talking about, and he said he’s all for making the penalty similar to basketball with two levels: flagrant one and flagrant two. One would be a 15-yard penalty with the other a 15-yard penalty and ejection.

“I don’t think anyone wants to appear to go backward in player safety,” Fuente stated.

He said it’s something he’s advocated for when meeting with representatives from the ACC and other head coaches in the league. Acknowledging that the rule was created for player safety and to limit the really dirty hits out there, he said he didn’t think Hollifield’s play fell into that group. 

As for how the Hokies replace Hollifield, Fuente said he’s not sure about whether redshirt freshman Dean Ferguson or redshirt junior Keshon Artis will start at mike linebacker in his absence. He described Artis as a swing guy who can play both spots if needed, helping out Alan Tisdale at backer, too. In the Notre Dame game, Ferguson was the one who replaced Hollifield at mike.

Other Notes

  • Fuente said true freshman quarterback Tahj Bullock has been getting really good work on the scout team. “I’ve been really pleased with how he’s improved.” Said he’s not game-ready, though, and wouldn’t be ready to go if the Hokies needed him due to injuries in the QB room.
  • On the Pitt offense and Kenny Pickett: “This offense we’re playing this week is pretty special,” Fuente said. “This is the best quarterback we’ve played so far and the best quarterback we’ll probably play all year. … He’s experienced, he’s hard to sack, has a great arm and great anticipation. … They’re as hot as anybody in America.”
  • Pitt head coach Pat Narduzzi’s comments on Virginia Tech: “What I see on tape, they love to run the football. They love to run it against us as well, especially when we get into our three-down stuff. … When you look at what you saw against Notre Dame, they like to run the quarterbacks. They got two quarterbacks banged up. Burmeister will be ready to go. Came back in the game, looked like he hurt his funny bone. Didn’t look like it affected him much. So he’ll be back. We expect to see him.”
  • Virginia Tech’s game against Syracuse on Saturday, Oct. 23 is a 12:30 p.m. ET kickoff from Lane Stadium on RSN (regional sports networks).

20 Responses You are logged in as Test

  1. Going for 2 from the 3 was probably correct. Going for 2 from the 8 was absolutely incorrect. It speaks to a larger problem that’s been going on for years that Fuente can’t properly adjust to changing game situations.

  2. Going for 2 with your backup QB after a penalty was a bad decision. That being said, eliminate the 2 point plays and assume made extra points, we still lose 31-30. We gave up a TD & FG late. We lost a TD on a penalty and dropped an INT, either would have made a bigger difference.

  3. Never chase points
    (2017 GT lesson not learned).

    Team is fighting, now Justin & Co need to enable the team by trusting them to get that 1yd.

    Let’s Go… Hokies!!!

  4. For me, it’s not a question of “take the point or go for 2″…you can make arguments for both sides.

    I know the difference in the probability of success of a two point conversion from the 8 vs from the 2.
    As does every High School coach in America…and they don’t make $4mill a year.

    For some reason I’m finding it more difficult to stay on the FU bus.

  5. I think all this hot seat talk has made us afraid to lose. Either we need to support Fuente or cut it. We have to play to win.

  6. PRIDE cometh before the fall. Our coach does not have the ability to mentally focus on the chess match each and every contest. We are paying for a Bobby Fischer and getting the local 13 year old who beats the bums playing clock chess down on the bowery.

    Sad that after six years our program is run by a guy who does not have CEO qualities. He belongs running someone’s offense, if that. I would like Whit to tell him to fire Cornelson and prove he can run an offense directly like Dan Mullen or Mike Leach. I doubt he can. He’s smoke and mirrors and we are paying over $4 million a year for ineptitude.

  7. As to Bullock not being game ready: Sure hope that is ‘smoke and mirrors’. If BB3 goes down, Bullock must be ready to be the backup if anything happens to Kaden.

  8. Kicking the PAT would have put ND in a nine point hole, and that makes it a two possession game. Maybe they’d have pressed more than they did knowing that? The thing is, we will never know. I remember in the national title game, Beamer continually chased points in the third quarter and believe he missed 2 point conversions three different times. That was 3 points we didn’t get (don’t even mention the Vick missed play at the beginning of the game at the goalline). Later in the game, those 3 points would have come in handy before they ended up pulling away from us.

  9. I don’t understand why the QB did not line up under the center and big O-line and drive in for a 1 yard TD. We do not see this very often, and I think it hurts us to a point in scoring from time to time. We need to be ready in all phases of the game, and un-predictable in my opinion.

  10. I think really you only go for two if you need it to tie or win at the moment of the score and it’s under 3 minutes left in the game

  11. “I kind of got my pride and my piss off-edness got in the way of making a good decision there, and I hurt the football team, and it hurts me bad. It bothers me a lot.”>>>>

    An honest answer. I like that. But – now I’m questioning whether his pride and his piss off-edness will get in his way when it comes to crunch time in another game.

    If he had said: ‘I went for 2 because we were playing to win and that 2nd point might have been the winner, blah, blah, blah.’ – would I feel better. That leads me to believe that if VT trailed by 1 at the end of the game and the ball was on the 8 yard line – would he have gone for 2. It’s disingenuous to say the least.

    1. This isn’t the first “his pride ” as gotten in the way. Game management is terrible.

    2. I’m not a Fu ‘basher’… but he is paid big bucks to make the correct probability decisions. A 2 point conversion from the 8 is very low probability. Simple decision – take the extra point for a 2 point lead.

      Very poor game management. Same can be said for the final returning ND kickoff with Holsten – make a fair catch and start from the 25. Time for two passes, and if successful, a long field goal attempt.

    3. I agree…I’m just glad to see he has a pulse. Most of the time, he just stands there, expressionless, all by himself.

  12. A lesson in why you don’t go for 2 until the 4th quarter, and deep into the 4th quarter at that. Take the points they’re handing you (conversion, FG etc.) unless you have one hell of a deficit to close. We didn’t and the 1 PT would have won the game for us.

    As for Dax, we’re headed for flag football.

      1. not true. Totally changes game management. We would have milked the clock at the end. We would have won

          1. In addition to what’s been said above, it’s probable that a 30-29 lead, instead of a 29-29 tie, puts a little more pressure on their kicker, and just maybe he misses it.

            I have never been a fan of going for 2 before the 4th q (and particularly with our red zone offensive play calling).

            As an aside, Coach Beamer never quite figured that out either. In the loss at Chapel Hill in the early 2010s (can’t remember if it was 2012 or 2014), he went for 2 in the 3rd q also.

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