Pittsburgh Crushes Virginia Tech 47-14

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Virginia Tech-Pitt scoring summary

Justin Fuente Virginia Tech
Justin Fuente watched his team spiral downward in the second half of a 47-14 loss at Pittsburgh. (Virginia Tech Athletics)

Virginia Tech head coach Justin Fuente entered the Zoom video conference postgame and sat dead silent for 13 seconds before letting out a deep sigh and muttering, “That was a tough one.” 

Those several seconds were lifeless, much like Virginia Tech’s performance on Saturday. The Hokies (4-5) were dismantled 47-14 at Heinz Field against Pitt (5-4).

“It’s incredibly disappointing just knowing how hard we work and the amount of care that we have for each other as a team,” senior captain Jarrod Hewitt said. “Very frustrating.”

Trailing 26-14 in the third quarter, Virginia Tech had a chance to make it a one-score game. After a pickup of three on first-and-goal from the 4-yard line, the Hokies were a mere yard away from a touchdown.

Those playing the odds would like the chances of Virginia Tech to score there. Instead, Jalen Holston was stopped for no gain on second down, a third down pass fell incomplete, and Hendon Hooker was smothered on the quarterback keeper up the middle at the line of scrimmage for a turnover on downs.

“On fourth and one, that’s a play we’ve been running for four years,” Fuente said. “It’s been pretty good for us. It worked pretty good every time we’ve run it through the history of time for us. It didn’t tonight. He got stuffed.”

“Fourth-and-one there, we’ve got to get that in,” said Khalil Herbert, who finished with 129 total yards. “There’s no if, ands, or buts about it.”

Still, Pitt was backed up at their own 1-yard line with no room to operate. Surely, Virginia Tech could get the ball back in good field position.

Wrong. After an incompletion on first down, Panthers’ quarterback Kenny Pickett proceeded to pick apart the Virginia Tech defense for passes of 10, 25, and 64 yards down the field on three consecutive plays, capping it off with a long touchdown pass to D.J. Turner to increase the lead to 33-14. More than anything, it was the sequence that epitomized Virginia Tech football on Saturday.

“I’m sure people are upset, but I mean, guys, we’re playing football in the middle of a pandemic,” Fuente said. “It’s the most extraordinary of circumstances we’ve ever seen… Do we expect to play and win? Absolutely, but the notion that’s it’s something terribly wrong or whatever is just ridiculous. I don’t think anybody has any concept of what these kids’ lives are like every single day trying to handle this. 

“Should we still play better? Sure, absolutely, but let’s take things in a little bit of context here. We’re going to keep battling and fighting our tails off and doing right by our players and our staff and doing the best job we can.”

Two years ago at Heinz Field, the Panthers lit up the Hokies for 52 points and rushed for 492 yards, an opponent’s record against Virginia Tech. This loss may have been even more demoralizing.

This was not a juggernaut offense by any stretch of the imagination. Pitt came into the contest averaging 23.7 points per game in ACC competition. The Panthers doubled that output. Pat Narduzzi’s squad entered the game 14th in the ACC with 357.6 yards per game. On Saturday, Pitt had no problem gashing the Hokies for 556 total yards, including 404 passing yards from Pickett. The Panthers scored on all four drives in the second half. 

“Defensively, we had a hard time getting pressure on the quarterback,” Fuente said. “Felt like in the first half he was getting the ball out so fast. We didn’t have much time to get pressure. In the second half, he held the ball and we still didn’t get pressure.”

Things weren’t much better offensively for the Hokies. In the first half, Hooker found success through the air to Tre Turner. He connected with the wide receiver for a 55-yard touchdown in the second quarter.

On the following drive, Hooker tossed it high in the air to Turner in the end zone, and the junior wideout came down with it over a defender for the 7-yard score. However, Turner was injured on the play and never returned.

From there, Virginia Tech’s offense sputtered and never got much going. The Hokies were just 3-for-11 on third down and 0-for-3 on fourth down.

“I guess it’d be easy to sit there and say you should have called something else. When you’ve got a whole category or a whole log of that play in crucial situations being successful, it’s pretty hard to go away from it.

“That’s the way it goes sometimes when you play good people… The philosophy is we’re going to take two downs to get a first down, as opposed to trying to kick a 57-yard field goal.”

After the offense had carried Virginia Tech through the beginning part of the season, the unit has hit a wall. It begs the question, would Fuente make any changes to the play calling, even going as far to take over as the play caller?

“No, that’s the most ludicrous crap I’ve ever heard,” Fuente said.

Hendon Hooker Virginia Tech
Hendon Hooker and the Hokies needed more offensive punch against Pitt. (Virginia Tech Athletics)

It will be a complete reset for Virginia Tech with no game this upcoming week after playing nine weeks in a row. The bye week comes at arguably the best time possible with the Hokies reeling, losers of three straight and four of the last five. It will be an opportunity to get some players healthy, including Christian Darrisaw, Doug Nester, and Jermaine Waller, who all did not play on Saturday. 

“The older guys that have played a bunch of reps, they need rest,” Fuente said. “They need a break. They’ve been going at it since July. We haven’t had an off week. We haven’t had anything. I know our first game was postponed, but that certainly wasn’t a bye week. Those guys will get some rest, we’ll rep the other guys, and get ready for the stretch run.”

Following the off week, Virginia Tech will close the season against Clemson and Virginia.

— hokiesports.com box score —

Virginia Tech - Pitt team stats

Virginia Tech - Pitt player stats

Virginia Tech - Pitt defensive stats


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66 Responses You are logged in as Test

  1. After winning (although not really winning any big games) initially with Beamer’s players, everything Fuente has done has declined since then, except for his compensation. He makes $4.2M per year, the vast majority of which is paid by fans and their contributions… so, I think that all the fans who support this program DO have the right to complain about the product on the field. And for those who don’t like the complaining, stop reading the comments!!

  2. Those are some stupid comments. Yes, VT is going through a tough situation with the virus and all. However, Pitt is too, and they didn’t seem to be bothered in this game.

    It’s finally time for Fuente to go.

  3. Wow … i read the comments here including articles from the webmasters and I think what a bunch of spoiled brats. You sound like a bunch of sailors who just left homeport for a deployment somewhere and won’t see home for 7-12 months. Do you really think that all of your pissing and moaning on this web site is going to amount to anything??? Take a bucket of water and put your hand in it. Now withdraw your hand. What was the impact. That is the impact your opinion has regarding Virginia Tech sports. I see comments like … our players suck, not P5 players or the play calling sucks, or fire CF. I imagine that much less than 1% of Hokie Nation even reads your trash talking. I left this website because of all the trash talking a few years back. I told myself that I would just read, but that is not much better. So, i will again turn my back on being a member.

    1. Amen again.
      These folks need to leave their basement and their 65-inch Samsung and breathe some fresh air.

  4. Can’t believe what I’m reading here. Do you really believe that Fuente can’t coach with all the success that he’s had both here and elsewhere? I think that the pandemic has had an impact on what’s happened this season. Haven’t handled the pandemic well? Ok, learn from this year and move on into the future. I would say that the coaching staff is a work in progress, as most are, particularly on the defensive side, but I think the pieces are there. The thing about this year is all the lessons to be learned by what’s happened. I would hate to have to start over with a new coaching staff and go through all of this again. And there’s no guarantee that things will get any better.

    I did have some criticisms, but I can’t see dragging that out now.

  5. Ah the bed wetting from fans. Blowing up Fu would blow up JHam and TNT which I think has serious potential for recruiting and execution.
    Second, look at the names being tossed around – Brent Venables? Nope. Won’t come. Liberty’s coach? Why don’t we just go after fellow douchebag Lane Kiffen? The only name I’d entertain at this point is Shane Beamer and he doesn’t even want the VT job. He’s lobbying for South Carolina. Keep Fu and possibly … possibly bring in a new OC. Although Cornelsen has stats on his side.
    Lastly stop hammering Fu on his personality. You know who else is stoic, never complains to refs and gives boring pressers? Luke Fickell. But because he’s winning – he’s a quiet genius. You know who else has the pulse of a cinderblock? Bill Belichick. You’re piling on unfairly there. Hell, everywhere. Tech can’t … I repeat … can’t get a coach with a deeper resume than Fu’s. We Either get a young hotshot who’ll leave in 3 years or a dude past his prime who’ll get fired in the same time. Think of a VT football coach like our recruiting base – 3 star and you hope he rises to the moment with work, study and passion.

    1. Bed wetting … I wish i had thought of that. What really burns me up is people on this website taking shots at the players. The critics on this website need to chill out and get a new life. From now through the end of the year … PLEASE, take a break and pledge to not write a hateful post until next year sometime. Give the players, coaches, and staff a break. Hopefully they do not read this crap you guys are posting. Just as the news media cannot declare Joe Biden the president-elect; collectively you guys cannot fire CF unless you guys can pass around the hat and collect up ohhh $15 Million? Even then in 2021 you guys will be pissing and moaning about then new coaching staff.

  6. I really want JHam and TnT to get their shot. I think they will be good for VT, the players and defensive recruiting.
    But this offense just isn’t working. We have ALL the tools, great RB, really good QB (in fact all 3 of them could run an offense), great OL and TE talent and serviceable receivers (no breakaway threats though). But our coaches can’t seem to get offensive sets that actually work consistently against P5 talent. And let’s face it, the demeanor of HCJF is where enthusiasm goes to die. That might be OK if you’re reeling off 10 wins per year, but we are not.
    I have not felt like this about VT Football since the late 80’s.
    Excited is best, angry can cause change, but ambivalence is a killer.

  7. I’ll take a young, energetic coach with bloodlines to VT to understand the culture, the history and the love for VT Football. Not just a guy…with no ties taking our money, and destroying our legacy. Where’s Sam Rogers??

  8. “but I mean, guys, we’re playing football in the middle of a pandemic”

    Well, we should all be thankful that UNC, Wake, Liberty, Miami, and Pitt haven’t been touched by the pandemic! They are really fortunate about that!

    What a lame excuse.

    1. He’s been leaning on the COVID excuses all season long as if the opposing teams beating us are unaffected, it is incredibly lame! His tone is endlessly negative, whiny, and excuse laden and you can tell by his post game interviews he could not care less.

  9. Our team has little talent on the P5 level. The downward trend started when Beamer stopped recruiting in earnest a few years before his retirement. It continued with Foster who did the same. It continued at an accelerated rate with Fuente and his assistants. Until this year, I have driven from Va Beach to every home game for almost thirty years and paid more than my share into the coffers of our Athletic Fund……and to what end: certainly not the success anticipated. For me at least, there will be no more trips, checks, or mental roller coaster rides during the off-season. I leave that to the rest of you fans that in some way remain hopeful.

    1. +1 There is nothing on table, the cupboard doesn’t look good and the cook doesn’t inspire hope. At least I’m no longer seeing comments like “haters going to hate” when some points out the shortcomings.

  10. Pay no attention to the recruiting situation. It’s the China Virus! The Kung Flu! This virus has literally killed 0 football players! It’s super serious.

  11. This team is talent depleted – especially on defense. Not good when your best players are transfers knowing they can get instant time. Recruiting under Fuente has been a major disappointment. He has a million excuses for losing on the field, but he lost well before stepping on. Under him this trend will not changing. 3 star guys at best. However, cash is king and a buyout is very unlikely in this environment. Whit’s best option is to ride out this out. On a positive note, it does appear, to me at least, the level of play across the board is weak. We’re not the only program. For all their 4&5 star guys PSU is 0-5.

    1. +1 Good points across the board. Also about PSU being 0 – 5. It is an odd year and tough to make a judgement on this year. I do feel if it was my money, I’d bet PSU will be better next year, us . . . I’d not take that bet from what I’m seeing.

  12. Beginning to think it isn’t Fuente but P-U-nte.

    It was over for me when 2nd and 25 at the Pitt 38 we call a running play. And then what do we call with 3rd and 25, a running play. Then we punt. You can’t get a pass interference call (automatic first down) on a running play. You seldom get defensive holding on a running play. To top it off, we did the same thing earlier in the season in the same circumstances.

    Cornelsen must go.

  13. I am still trying to tone it down a notch b/c I want JHamm and Tapp and a few others to get a fair shot and i know blowing this staff up after all the VT accolades and records have already been lost would seem like the last 5 years has been such a waste of our time. But my heart knows I have been calling this coach out for his flaws since year two. He has MAJOR BLINDSPOTS to a flaw. His personality will not allow him to see the proper corrections to make…..with people, players, fans, or his football programs. This is his natural undoing.

    But Folks the answer really could be right down the road in Lynchburg…….no not talking about Cornell Brown but Hugh Freeze sitting at $2 million a year.

    They barely loss last night……….but wouldnt former SEC Hugh Freeze look good in Orange and Maroon? We need a Big name reset. No other Hot coach is thinking of Tech as a landing spot but This is a Platinum upgrade for Freeze. Use that $25million to reset coaching staff and cut Fuente loose. We won’t get this opportunity forever. #Freeze Fuente now.

      1. No offense…..but baggage….that’s our counter argument for staying in a dull unfulfilled and unsatisfying marriage? Really.

        Theres two sayings that might ring true as to why VT has become status quo and could forever remain a 3rd tier top 50 basement program:
        1. In Nascar circles, the saying goes ” If you ain’t rubbing then you ain’t racing!
        2. In SEC Big Boy Football circles, the saying goes…..”If you ain’t cheatin’ then you ain’t tryin’!

        If we want to remain in Smallsville then I guess okay but generally nice guys finish last.

          1. Good point….but we know Coach Beam was an enigma. But i also kno Coach Frank was a Nascar guy too and highly competitive to a point I think he had a nasty streak in him to seek how he could exploit competitive edges be it special teams or whatever. Somehow he always got the very best out of his programs and others.

    1. C’mon, Hugh Freeze? Why not make Falwell, Jr as president of VT, then we could have our morals in the gutter in both athletics and education. I believe in giving folks a second chance, but Freeze burned lots of chances at Ol’ Miss.

      BTW, his extension at Liberty pays him considerably more than $2 million. When it kicks in he’ll be in the top ten in Power Five coaching salaries, if he were at a Power Five school.

      1. I guess we stay in this dull unfulfilled and unsatisfying marriage then for another 5years. Nudge me when you finally get fed up with this nightmare.

    2. But, wouldn’t a bunch of other teams be in the Freeze Sweepstakes?? My guess is he ain’t going to come for a 1 or 2 million dollar pay raise. Could be wrong.

  14. Hard to compete these days without a good passer.
    Hard to compete with a pickup secondary that can’t defend the pass.
    Hard to compete with tacklers that don’t WRAP UP.
    Hard to compete with a sad sack coach, who depresses me every time I see him on TV.

  15. At one point the acc network gave a shot of fuente on the sideline with his hands in his pockets. Oh well, ho, hum another miserable performance. We are in for 2 more losses, Dabo and his boys will completely destroy us, uva will beat us by at least 14, probably more. Don’t see things getting better any time soon. The next 3-5 years will be sharing the bottom with some other losing team, duke? Haven’t been able to watch a whole game for over 2 years now. Really don’t see us ever being relevant again. Not enough money to hire and keep a good coach. Maybe we could defund football and give the money to basketball and/or baseball. I’d like us to be relevant in something.

  16. I have posted angrily, then taken it back. I really do think Fuente has got to go….but to be replaced by …what? I hate this more for JHamm and Daryl Tapp. They aren’t whining….not that I have heard.

    Hooker telling us that, if we criticize this crap fest, we aren’t real fans…… Well buddy, been a fan well before you were thought of. I will criticize, and YOU can kick rocks. That comment ticked me off. I will put it down to being a kid, but he is close to losing my respect for him. Is he going to stomp on somebody’s leg next?

    Fuente and his Covid spiel. Yes……it hit the Defense because of transition. But overall, other teams are suffering the same. The only valid part of his excuses was his point about 9 weeks straight. That is rough.

    I think he is around 1 more year. Hope 2020 is his 1992.

    1. Agreed….after all the smoke around 2020 settles (and I fear more smoke to come) he gets amount year.

    2. good grief man, Hooker is out there busting his ass every day in practice and putting his body on the line 20+ times a game carrying the ball, and you’re going to get offended by him wanting support from the fanbase? I think you’re the one who needs to go kick a few rocks

  17. Seeing Coach Fu in the presser, so defensive, it’s like he’s just eaten a steak or something. SO unprofessional. I wonder what Babcock saw in him when interviewed?

    After a couple of these I understand our recruiting situation.., the guy is simply not impressive at all, who would want to play for this creep. And whining about COVID? Ridiculous! I’ve been supportive up to now, realized we lost to two pretty good FB teams in Liberty and Miami, but getting shellacked by Pitt! ENOUGH!

    1. I agree. I’m trying to be objective, but it seems CFU is making major excuses. COVID has basically hit all football programs and that is really unfortunate. But CFU, man up and start to make some CEO decisions regarding staff and team play.
      The one thing that really concerns me is his Lack of bringing in better players in all positions. He is really lacking in stepping it up in recruiting and he’s losing the fan base quickly and starting to lose any credibility with the Big money contributors!

  18. They are not going to fire him with that buyout. It’s not going to happen, especially since they might be extra players on the roster next season since this season does not count against eligibility.

  19. The face of a program needs to handle tough questions more professionally. It wasn’t ‘ludicrous crap’. It’s a legitimate question given Tech’s woeful performance as of late.

    Additionally, placing the blame week after week on the pandemic is also growing tiresome. Every others team we face is facing the same pandemic challenges. It’s just that other coaches are doing a better job managing these challenges and fielding competitive teams during the pandemic than he is.

    He should be able to handle tough questions, and that wasn’t a particularly tough question. He is far too often his own worst enemy. I’m growing tired of his underperformance, excuse-making, salty attitude, and tone-deaf responses to legitimate criticism and questions.

    1. Couldn’t agree with you more Exit37- getting tired of Fuente’s Covid19 schtick and lack of social graces, to put it mildly. He makes it sound like VT is the only school that has had to deal with the pandemic. Absolutely pathetic display of football by our HOKIES today. Been a VT fan since the Bob Schweikert days so I’ve been through the lowest lows and highest highs of HOKIE football. Right now just might be the lowest of the lows considering how high we once stood in the college football world and just how far we have fallen the past five years. And to add salt to the wounds, it certainly appears that things won’t be getting any better in the near future with the pitiful recruiting that is occurring. I’ve been saying for several years now that Fuente is not head coaching material with his introverted personality. Not saying we need a showman like Dabo, but a little more charisma sure wouldn’t hurt.

      1. Basically. I just think that you are correct. “I’ve been saying for several years now that Fuente is not head coaching material with his introverted personality. Not saying we need a showman like Dabo, but a little more charisma sure wouldn’t hurt._”. I hate it, but I think you are correct.

  20. Covid will still be the excuse in 2022 for this guy. “Well, we couldn’t have in-person recruiting in fall 2020 and spring 2021, so I couldn’t sign all these 2.5 star guys that I would’ve developed into 5 star players.” That will be the line. Never mind that every other school is dealing w the exact same thing but many will sign great classes and having winning seasons in 2021 and 2022. Not VT.

  21. Every other team is playing in a pandemic as well and outshining Fuente. Dude gotta go! Don’t blame the kids you recruited! Look in the mirror brother!

  22. Fuente is now reduced to making excuses for doing a poor job. He wants to blame the pandemic for us losing to Liberty, Wake Forest, and Miami.

    6-7, 8-5 & 4-5 is mediocre. Fuente’s last 2 recruiting classes have not been up to par.

    This season can’t end fast enough.

    1. +1 the recruiting is a big concern. Will PSU’s recruiting take a big hit after the 0-5 record? I’d bet it will be better than CJF even if we have a better record. Maybe PSU will replace their coach and he will win with the previous coaches talent. Even with a worse record, I’d say PSU is a buy and Tech is a sell.

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