Tech Talk Live Notes: Running Backs, Joey Slye and Boston College

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Virginia Tech Talk Live

Tech Talk Live aired in its normal slot on Monday night, with one exception. Co-host Mike Burnop was not on set, but will return next week. Instead, Jon Laaser and Justin Fuente spent the entire show recapping Clemson, talking about special teams and previewing Virginia Tech’s game vs. Boston College.

Here are the highlights from the show.

Justin Fuente

Message to team after game, after losing with pomp and circumstance surrounding game

“First of all, and again, the object is to win the game, but the atmosphere that came along with it, that we showed those kids, we’ve already won. We’ve already taken a huge step forward, we know that Virginia Tech is on its way back, ascending up. I told them, we’re going to catch those guys. It may not be, and it wasn’t Saturday night, but that’s a fact. The wheels are already in motion. Those things are occurring on a daily basis, and I have never been more sure of that than I am right now, in terms of where we’re going and what we’re doing, and the type of people both on and off the field that came to our game and saw it, and got a chance to see what we’re all about.”

Situation at running back, and how reps will be split moving forward

“Well, we’ll continue to evaluate it. The first rule is, you’ve got to take care of the football, and I hate it for Travon (McMillian) because he’s worked diligently at it. He’s still going to play. Like, we haven’t shuttled him to the side, but we’ve got to drive that point home. The most powerful thing that we have is playing time. We’ve got to take care of the football. The second thing is playing without the ball. When you don’t have the ball in your hand, are you an accountable player and making sure you handle things for the rest of your teammates? We’ve got to do that. We felt like (Coleman) Fox had earned an opportunity there, and part of it was because of his hard work and part of it was because of some opportunity that had occurred in the game, and we put him in and he accounted for himself pretty well.”

How much Jalen Holston’s illness affected his availability

“Yeah, I just didn’t — for a true-freshman, coming off an illness, I didn’t think that was the stage to get him back going. That was just kind of how I felt. I still am encouraged, I think he’s going to continue to improve. I’m hopeful through this week and the bye week, and heading into the home stretch, that he can continue to improve and feel more comfortable with what we’re doing. The sickness really took his legs out from underneath him. This is a tough kid, this is a kid that wants to practice, wants to play. The term ‘sick as a dog’, he was really, really sick. He lost a little bit of weight and all that sort of stuff. My judgement was that throwing him out there vs. those guys probably wasn’t the best way to get him back going.”

What made Fuente feel like Virginia Tech was close to having offensive success in second half

“You play people of that quality, with as many young players as we have, you know the sledding is going to be tough. The job is continue to peck away, execute your fundamentals. They’re going to make enough plays in all phases of the game, that there’s no reason to help them out. I think that was the most disappointing part of that, and it really was as a whole. We had a penalty on a punt return, we turned a guy loose on defense — those are things that help an already good team. I think that was the most disappointing thing for us as coaches, looking back on the film, is how we aided them. And again, I’m not taking any credit away from them. They made plenty of plays on their own. We knew that going in. Our margin for error was going to be really, really small and as the second half wore on, we began to get some things going, we could protect because they weren’t rushing like they had been. Josh (Jackson) on early downs, was able to stand back there and throw the ball a little bit, and we got a few things going. We had to use all four downs several times, but we knew that going in too. We knew it was going to take, sometimes, four downs to get those things going. Then, what’s been our hallmark or what got us to that point, was being able to take care of the football. Through a few lapses in technique and discipline, we were not able to do that and that’s what you get.”

Level of concern in Joey Slye’s struggles

“I do. I’ve been supportive of Joey and continue to let him know that we’re behind him, 100 percent. I want him to continue to get better, but he has struggled. You can’t dodge that question or that fact. I feel like our protection has been good, our operation has been pretty good, we’ve just got to get it dialed in. He’s obviously got plenty of leg, it’s just a matter of hitting it true and getting it through the uprights.”

Pluses of playing Boston College shortly after they’ve played Clemson

“Well, I think there is some level of comparison there that is nice, in terms of ‘Ok, well I just saw that guy, No. 7, a week ago and I know what he’s all about and what he looks like physically and how well he runs, and now I’m watching him play against a guy we’re about to play against,’ so I don’t think schematically it really matters, but I do think from a — just trying to figure out what the players look like or feel like, there is a little bit of an advantage or frame of reference, I guess I should say, to that, in terms of trying to figure out guys’ skill sets and what they are from a physical standpoint.”

Virginia Tech Football
Virginia Tech came away with a 49-0 victory over Boston College in 2016. (Photo by Ivan Morozov)

Gameplan against Boston College defense

“Well, we’ll have to find a way to run the football. If they’re going to play us in a two-high look, which they have done some, then we’re going to have to find a way to get the ball run on the inside and on the perimeter. It’ll probably be by committee again. That’s what helped us last year in the game. We played really well on special teams and defense, and then were able to run the ball, and ultimately pushed the ball down the field in the play-action game, Isaiah Ford had a couple fantastic catches and a big game. But, it’s going to center around that until we can make them line up overloads in the box, to then make it easier to throw the ball to the outside.”

Chance of using offensive package that features AJ Bush

“I don’t know. As we continue to gameplan and AJ continues to feel more comfortable, I mean that’s certainly something that we’ve talked about, I can promise you that. In terms of our skill players, it’s one of the neat things about offense, and I think Brad Cornelsen does a fantastic job of playing to whatever our strengths are. Every play has five O-linemen and everybody else is negotiable. You could mix and match however you see fit — whether it’s three receivers and a tight end and a running back, or two running backs and three receivers, whatever it is, so (Bush) is certainly in those conversations because of his skill level.”

How Adonis Alexander looked after unofficial two-game suspension

“Well, we’ve asked him to do some other things on special teams. He’s very productive. He’s not a player that gets a lot of accolades because he’s not a returner, but he has been very productive on our punt return unit. He’s now on our punt unit and has a chance to make some plays down the field which is a little new for him. But we need all three of those corners, along with Bryce Watts, who’s our freshman corner, to be productive on special teams. It’s good to see Adonis continue to improve there. As far as his rust, he was still with the team and still practicing. I know he took the two games really hard. I’m hopeful that it had a big, powerful effect on him.”

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10 Responses You are logged in as Test

  1. Would like to see AJ get some snaps at QB … or just on the field to make defenses account for him. He could probably really tear it up if he gets into space with the ball. Didn’t Ohio State do something similar with one of their QB’s and turned him into a receiver? Maybe that’ll be his role for next year when the other QB is done with his redshirt?

  2. Coaching + Talent + Execution (including in game adjustments) = Wins and Championships. We need improvement in all three areas. Every game including Clumpson is winnable. 3 or 4 plays make the difference. We will see what we are this year against Miami in November.

  3. I like and applaud Coach Fuente’s message to the team. That made me feel better, and I am sure it helped the team to hear that as well.

  4. Can somebody please translate Coach Fu’s response in the “Pluses of playing Boston College shortly after they’ve played Clemson” section? I can’t make heads or tails of it.


    1. My interpretation: This week the guys will be watching film of BC that will heavily include plays from their recent game against Clemson. So when they see a guy doing something good or bad or whatever, it will have a very specific context for them because they just finished playing the team that they will be watching the BC guys go against in that film. If they see a BC guy make a play, they might take it more seriously. If they see a BC guy get owned, they may be less inclined to take him lightly than they otherwise would.

      Caveat: I’m an idiot and that could be totally wrong.

      1. I’m guessing the coaches/players watched the Clemson/BC film last week seeing how BC shut them down for three quarters. Now they get to watch it again from seeing what BC might try on VT.

        1. I understand the value of BC CU footage- probably as valuable as VT CU footage.

          This likely wasn’t covered due to TTL time constraints, but the issue here that I saw briefly two weeks ago was Scot Loefflers O and the decent BC QB. Bud knows Scot and Scot knows Bud.

          I see this more of a BC O v VT D challenge than the other way around.

  5. Nice job Ricky! Appreciate what u do and in particular encapsulating Coach Fu’s comments in question #1 above…I don’t know how anyone out there wouldn’t want to be a part of things here at VT…this program has huge mo’ and we are just getting going.
    Very very impressed and we will continue to get better!
    Go Hokies!

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