In Loss To Boston College, Virginia Tech & Justin Fuente Had No Answers

Raheem Blackshear had one of Virginia Tech’s seven catches on Friday. (Virginia Tech sports photography)

In previous games in the 2021 season, Virginia Tech has looked shell-shocked, but kept on fighting until the end. But on Friday night in Chestnut Hill, Justin Fuente & Co. didn’t have any answers, and, quite honestly, seemed to give up towards the end of the 17-3 loss.

The Hokies were plagued by injury. Tre Turner, who recorded a career-high seven catches for 187 yards at Georgia Tech, was unavailable. Mario Kendricks did not play, limiting Tech’s defensive tackle depth. Center Brock Hoffman went down during the game.

And with 3:22 to play in the first quarter, quarterback Braxton Burmeister kept the football on a read option and took a hard hit. He did not return.

Still, Virginia Tech only put the ball in the air once in the entire first quarter on 14 plays. Drives of eight plays and six plays both ended in punts, and the Hokies acted timid offensively.

The return of Phil Jurkovec sparked good news for the Eagles. With him under center, they moved the ball for 346 total yards, though 234 of that came on the ground. But as Fuente said, his presence shouldn’t have impacted the run game.

Tech struggled to tackle at times, couldn’t get stops (BC was 6-13 on third down) and when it was on offense, couldn’t muster anything. It was a very uninspiring team performance behind a coach who, simply put, looked defeated postgame.

The Hokies defense made the duo of Jurkovec and running back Patrick Garwo look like West Virginia’s Pat White and Steve Slaton. Garwo gashed Tech for 116 yards and a score, while Jurkovec had a carry or two where he looked like Michael Vick breaking tackles.

But as good as Boston College was offensively for its red bandana game, Virginia Tech couldn’t muster anything on that side of the ball. No matter the injuries. Fuente and his staff looked afraid to let backup quarterback Knox Kadum be comfortable in the offense. He only threw 16 passes, completing seven.

Tayvion Robinson was the lone receiver with a catch (four) while tight end Nick Gallo (two catches) and running back Raheem Blackshear (one) contributed.

Virginia Tech looked uninspired, and, frankly, Fuente seemed to be out of answers.

“They [Boston College] ran the ball really well,” Fuente said. “We ran the ball well. Basically made no plays in the passing game.”

When asked if he expects more out of the passing game even with the injuries, Fuente said, “yeah, we have to be better if we want to win games.”

Virginia Tech was one-for-seven in the first half through the air. Kadum completed six of his ten attempts in the second half, but even when the wheels finally started to churn for the team, problems occurred.

In the first half, Dorian Strong picked off Jurkovec. He tried to return it, however, and was stripped. The Eagles recovered, gaining 22 yards in the process.

The Hokies’ lone red zone trip resulted in a fumble, too. Driving at the beginning of the fourth quarter, gains of 22, 11 and 16 moved the ball into BC territory. Robinson was lit up on a screen on second-and-15, though, and the ball was punched out. Eagles ball.

Then, in the most peculiar of decisions, Virginia Tech faced a fourth-and-six at its own 25 with about five minutes remaining. Down two scores, instead of going for it, Fuente punted. Postgame, he cited flipping the field, getting a stop and getting the ball back.

Peter Moore, who was spectacular all night punting the ball, flipped the field. But the Hokies didn’t do either of the latter, as Boston College ran out the clock, ending the game.

John Parker Romo kicked a 47-yard field goal to keep Virginia Tech’s scoring streak alive. (Virginia Tech sports photography)

John Parker Romo nailed a 47-yard field goal to keep Virginia Tech’s 342-game scoring streak alive, the second-longest in the FBS and a record that dates back to 1995. It was the first time the Hokies hadn’t scored since the famous Wake Forest, 0-0 regulation game, in 2014.

However, Virginia Tech finished with 73 total passing yards, the fewest in the Justin Fuente era. The previous low was 75 at North Carolina in the hurricane in 2016.

It’s also the second-fewest passing yards in a game in the last decade. That low is 59 yards vs. No. 1 Alabama in 2013.

That Crimson Tide team finished 11-2 and lost to Oklahoma in the Sugar Bowl. Heck, that Tar Heels team went 8-5 and lost in the Sun Bowl.

This Boston College team was 4-4 (0-4 in the ACC) entering Friday’s game. For the second time this season (first time was Syracuse), the Hokies were an opponents’ first conference win of the year.

Here’s another stat to put it in perspective:

Earlier this year after the 28-7 “non-responsive” loss to Pitt, it felt like the same old story, and Fuente spoke like a coach who knew he might not be in Blacksburg after the end of the season.

In that game and all others in 2021, the Hokies battled until the end, which Fuente praised. On a cold, November night in Boston, that didn’t seem the case. 

Despite praising his group’s effort, as he always does, the head ball coach and his players truly looked defeated. Maybe for good, this time.

And if it truly is almost the end for Fuente’s tenure at Virginia Tech, there’s an interesting parallel. 

There are a lot of questions for Justin Fuente and Virginia Tech, but Friday, he looked like a man without answers. (Virginia Tech sports photography)

On a Friday night in Blacksburg in September of 2019, the Hokies were crushed, 45-10, by a Duke team that Tech could’ve beaten. 770 days later on a November Friday night in Boston, the Hokies were beat up in another winnable game that didn’t go their way.

After that 2019 loss, Virginia Tech bounced back with answers, winning six of its next seven games. This time, the Hokies don’t seem to have any.

Full box score: Link

78 Responses You are logged in as Test

  1. It was easy to give CFB the benefit of the doubt until this season. He’ll probably be a very successful
    OC at a power 5 program, but his skill set does not include being a CEO coach. Say what you like about Mac Brown and Dabo Sweeny (I certainly have), but they are effective salesmen for their program. Fuente is not a salesman; that’s no slight (I’m not either), but you need that in a head coach. Fuente is three times the pure coach that Jimbo Fisher is, but Fisher is a great, I mean GREAT, salesman.
    Keeping the donors happy, and recruiting are the biggest sales jobs in the sport.
    So, like Coach Bear Bryant said, “it aint the X’s and the O’s, it’s the Jimmies and the Joes.
    We need a good recruiter who is not afraid to fire a coordinator when it’s time to do so, and not wait three years to do it.

    1. oh, and by the way, Evans left because of his father. Hooker had humiliated himself with his teammates, and Patterson just want more playing time.

  2. Hooker threw for 4 TDs against a ranked opponent. That’s all you need about how effective our coaching staff is

  3. You tell our kids to play Hard, play Smart & be Tough. They have and it is a shame that you and your staff have set them up for slaughter. Shame on you Fuente! You say you care about these kids but it is obvious you care more about your staff (ie: friends) than you do for the kids, the history that you’ve destroyed and this very, very loyal fan base. Us real Hokies will welcome your replacement to rebuild what you have allowed to decay.

    I’m ashamed of what you’ve allowed us to become (a joke) but never ashamed of being a Hokie. I’ll be there Saturday to applaud our players for effort and to applaud your final day at historic Lane Stadium, Home of the Virginia Tech Hokies!

  4. I’ll take QBs run off by Fuente for $400 Alex. Question: who was 15/20 with 4 TDS and 0 picks in beating a ranked team last night?

  5. This loss sucked the air out of the room. There is no option now, so I’m sure Whit is looking…but to whom? There’s a lot of competition out there right now for head coaches. I would be talking to Dan Mullen.

  6. It appears as if the entire VT program under Fuente is finally coming to the surface. Coaching, accountability, recruiting, development, game preparation, etc. are all showing their true colors. The bad part about last night is that was a snapshot of the immediate future and it looks bad, really bad.. 🙁

  7. Hokies all, this is 100% on the head coach. This is 100% his staff, this is 100% his players and lack of quality RBs and back-up QB. This is 100% no Hooker, or Patterson or Evans for a 2nd year.

    So time to end the “nice talk” Fuente must go. I have seen the good, bad and ugly as a 50+ year season ticket holder We are now seeing the 100% Super Ugly led by and accountable to one Justin Fuente.

    GO HOKIES and best of luck to Whit to hire a quality head coach to our Super Ugly Program.

    1. FWIW, Patterson is either injured or been benched as FCS NDSU. I guess his 6/4 TD/Int ratio isn’t cutting it. Quincy leaving is not impacting the play on the field.

      1. They were behind in a game and they brought a new QB and he did well
        And pulled the game out. QP hasn’t played since. We didn’t lose anything by him leaving.

    2. So George … are you ready to put up the money to buy out CF’s contract. Or maybe pass around the bucket to the “wealthy donors”? It has been said 1,000 times on this website if BB3 goes down the team is screwed. Not only was BB3 not in the game neither was Tre Turner. And, the offense felt they were in quicksand. I do however, fault CF for not telling Kadum to be a gunfighter, sling the ball down field.

  8. No TALENT. Talk all u want about on field coaching- if you can’t recruit may as well drop down a division.

    When a bottom dwelling program like ODU looks more athletic than VT it tells me all I need to know.

    And this latest group of verbals is more of same, maybe worse.

    1. At this stage of the season, why in the world can’t Tech go ahead and start using the freshman QB. If he is as promising as Tech thought he was when recruiting him, why not take off the red shirt now and let him get some experience for next year.. It can’t be much worse. If he does well , go ahead and promise him the starting position for next year. If so, maybe he will hang around and not go to the portal. Don’t bring in another QB from the portal only to make our Freshman QB have to ride the bench., let the portal QB ride the bench and see if he can earn the starting job. We have been through this scene too many times already. (Think Patterson and Hooker.)

      1. I agree with you. But here is the deal, he can start the Freshman QB and if the young man stay healthy and a big “IF”, Tech makes it to a bowl, he would not burn a redshirt since the rule allows for a player to play 4 games and still maintain redshirt status. We have 3 regular season game and if small miracle occurs, a potential bowl. So why not let the Freshman play. He can not be much worse than what we have gotten from the position so far and heck our playbook seems to be pretty scale down anyway so it is not like they need to prepare him to handle a sophisticated offensive system – playbook. After all, you or I could hand the football off to Blackshear and Thomas and that what they allowed Kadum to do last night with occasional runs from a non athletic QB, smh. The coaches were so reluctant in allowing Kadum to pass and I do know if it was a function of the QB or the lack of people for him to the throw the ball to.

      2. Probably because if he turns out to be any good, he’ll hit the transfer portal if Coach Fu has anything to say about it. How many good quarterbacks as he runoff? Evans, Patterson, Jackson, and hooker? I’ll because he is too ego driven to tell the starter that they were going to be the starter?

        1. He’s probably amazing. And like Thomas ready to go at this point.

          I simply do not trust our coaching staff, not only in developing, but also in their evaluations.

        2. To be fair, he didn’t run off Evans, he recommended that he stay and Evans refused. Patterson was never a D1 QB but we liked his fight. Jackson would have been better off staying as our system seemed to be more suited to his skills since he imploded at MD. But Hooker…..

      3. There’s no issue of him losing his red shirt at this point. It would be logical to give the kid SOME experience, but Fuente was coaching for his job, not the future.


      1. This is a real problem. For recruiting, engaging fans, engaging the media. A problem for promoting and building the program. I have been saying it for 4 years.

        1. So Nick Saban is your Mr. Personality???? Runner up – Bill Bilichick???? Cmon man, it takes more than personality. You have to WANT to connect with kids, donors, etc. Fu doesn’t put in the work there. True.
          But I think UC’s Luke Fickell is similar. Not magnetic but smart. Difference? He’s winning games. If he were 4-4, UC fans would say the same thing. Fu is who he is and the pile on is now relentless. There are myriad factors and concerns with VT football, not just a boring personality at the helm.

          1. @phoenixhokie…agree. Every time I see a Sabin interview or his Aflac commercials I am struck by his lack of personality or emotion. But he wins, and so does his coaching tree. Hard to find Dabo’s who have both traits.

  10. Disappointing that we went from having the deepest QB room ever to now a bare cupboard. This all would be a different story with either Hendon or Quincy.

      1. Agree. Our QB situation was unfortunate. Hard to recruit new QBs when you are 3 deep. Who ever heard of a QB getting cold and having to come out of a game. So, a quirk with Hooker. And so 2 left and we were left with Kadum. We went out and got Blumrick but I guess he is not very good and he should have played ahead of Kadum.

    1. Quincy just lost the starting job at N. Dakota State. But, in this game he would have been better than Kadum.

  11. Watch the portal we may loose the whole team. But alas the loyal Hokie fans will be happy as Whitt will surely retain Fu!

  12. Well, that was painful. Guess it is time to start over, hopefully VT will have a better plan this time around. If the offense is that poor next week, Duke is going to ruin senior day.

  13. Sadness reigns. I feel bad for coaches, players, and fans. Who would have ever guessed that the Fuente-Mendenhall era would end so badly for us.

  14. Maybe we just become a Basketball school. Babcock seems better at picking basketball coaches.

    I work all week and look forward to the weekend: family, hobbies, VT Football … *%$# (so much for that).

    Is it time for Taj Bullock to start playing some. Can’t he play in up to 4 games, total time less than one game. Maybe we can build some momentum for next year.

    1. Better question….why can’t we tackle anyone ? This secondary and these LBs have no understanding on the fundamentals of tackling.

  15. They didn’t try to find answers

    They didn’t try to pass. They made themselves one-dimensional

  16. When Strong intercepted and then fumbled, Waller batted away a pass only to go into a different BC arms, Jurkovek came out when he was “done” for the season – “It ain’t going to happen”. I yell and scream for the HOKIES, but it seemed like 5 minutes in – Not going to Happen. The team was better against ND & ‘Cuse, in the feel at the game.

    See you Saturday and I will be cheering on the team. I know “everyone” wants Fuente gone. I am scared for be careful for what you wish for. I’d rather put $$ on assistant coaches, S&C with observers who is putting in the time and effort, nutritionists monitoring diet, weight, speed, endurance.

    I don’t have the answers, not even sure if I have the questions.

    GO HOKIES!!!

    1. I really do appreciate your dedication, but there’s no way you can retain FU after last night. Tired of apologists and excuses. He gotta go ASAP, or the program will continue to suffer.

      1. Not sure why he is still the coach this morning. At least glad it was Friday night so my Saturday is free.

    2. It’s not only this year it’s the last 4 years. When he came here the program had a culture, hard nosed football, playing tough and smart all the time and solid players like Sam Rogers and the Edmond Brothers. He had them for his first 2 years and they were from the Beamer era! We don’t have that culture anymore due to Fuente!
      There has been basically no player development, some talent level concerns and the list could go on and on!
      He’s had 4 years to recruit his players and you now see what the product on the field looks like!
      Big Time Decision for Whit! The Board of Visitors and Dr. Sands also have to be involved regarding the Money Issues for Fuente, the entire football staff and the next head football coach and his staff!

  17. “Rock bottom?”

    No offense but VT is not close.

    Lose to Dook, stomped by Scum, and watch the Cavs destroy the Hoks. After that, I hate to speculate but it can get worse, a lot worse.
    I remember the years lost in darkness after Jerry Claiborne.

    1. You must be like me … old as dirt. Well not quite just yet. I turned 71 yesterday now working on 72. Many people on this board have been spoiled. And, they think changing coaches will make things better. When in fact changing coaches has less odds of success than gambling in a Vegas casino. I recall a recent TSL article showing just that. In addition to paying off CF’s contract expect a lot of demands from the incoming coach, including salary, as well as salary for assistants. Those who demand success on the field … double your contribution for next year, then double it again the following year. Money makes the world go around, the same can be said for college football. College sports in Virginia receive zip from the state. I recall that in NC if there are 6, i believe, classrooms in a new building then the taxpayers NC picks up at least part if not all the tab. Clearly some changes need to be made, firing Fu is not one of them. I am not a apologist. I am a realist, and I play the odds.

  18. When we preserved thr scoring streak, I was celebrating like we had just won the MNC. That is where we are at now.

    Fuente has ended every other streak, but he only has three more tries to end the scoring streak.

  19. Tough game to watch, had to mute the broadcast after the 1st quarter. Hard to win a game without Turner and Burmeister. This makes the Duke game an even bet. Lack of depth is really hurting us now.

    1. I got sick of the Saint Welles diatribe. It was endless. What he did was brave and selfless, but I thought we were supposed to watch a football game, not appoint Sainthood.

      1. The same thing happened at the GaTech game. The announcers would go on and on about the 1994 team to the point they would do a split screen otherwise how would you know they were calling a game.

  20. When I saw Brandon Patterson’s score prediction (VT loss similar to SU game) I first thought it was a misprint given the other staffers has all picked VT. Patterson was basically saying that the GT win was a mirage; a mediocre performance against a bad opponent that didn’t change the team’s trajectory. Of course no one expected Jurcovec (sp) to play and BB not but I’m not sure how much that mattered. Patterson was saying “I’ve looked at the tape and I don’t like what I see”. He was and is right. This is not a good football team.

    1. Thing is, this was a bad BC team. They scored their first TD because VT fumbled at the 15 after the INT. VT doesn’t score because they fumble at the 15 after finally driving down the field. 10 to 14 point swing. Just 2 bad teams playing.

  21. Dukebacle & Boston resign.

    Both could have been prevented by Babs but we have beer tables at baseball games cause that’s a priority.

  22. This game was really bad for all Tech fans. We need a new start with a new coach who wants to be at Tech. One who will recruit and player develop.

    1. Does anyone remember Nick Sorensen? He’s an assistant for the Seattle Seahawks now. I’ve always admired how he played the game from quarterback to linebacker to safety. He’s a gritty hard-nosed guy. I don’t know if he’s ever been interviewed for a college position but I think we should talk to him

        1. I would rather have J Ham over Nick, but bring Nick in as an assistant coach—if we could afford him. Bring back D Tapp too! All those guys meet your criteria of wanting to be here!

          1. Please, no carry overs from this coaching staff to the next one. We’ve been down this road and found it a dead end!

      1. Nick is very smart, hard working & industrious. Incredible knowledge of conditioning and nutrition.

    2. StautonHokie are you ready to make a significant contribution to help pay for CF’s buyout? I did not think so. How much have you and all the other CF boo birds contributed to the Hokie Club over the last 5 years? 10 years? 15 years? And, the Techsideline folks how much have they contributed. No skin in the game huh? It is easy to say “We need a …new coach” when you have no skin in the game.

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