Home ACC Teleconference: Virginia Tech coach Justin Fuente

ACC Teleconference: Virginia Tech coach Justin Fuente


fuenteVirginia Tech football coach Justin Fuente talks with reporters on his weekly ACC Teleconference.


OPENING STATEMENT: I was happy with our team’s resiliency last week, going on the road and finding a way to win the Duke game. We’ve got a tremendous challenge here this week. We get to come home, should have a great crowd, and play Georgia Tech and the triple option.

We’ve had a good week of prep so far. Looking forward to continuing it today.

Q. Isaiah Ford has had so many kind of record-setting moments this year. He joked with us yesterday he gets texts from his mom reminding him about records, waiters in restaurants. How has he handled that off-the-field stuff and how focused has he been when it’s been time to work?
COACH FUENTE: Oh, he’s done a great job of all of that. He’s a very mature young man, highly intelligent, truly interested in what’s best for the team. But he also deserves recognition. He has been a good player here for several years. He’s having a good season. He’s done as good a job as anybody I’ve ever been around in terms of handling all the things that come with individual success.

Q. I know how much you love when we ask about Jerod Evans and the number of carries he gets. From a coaching philosophy, do you do anything late in the year to help rest him or keep him fresh because of the role he’s playing?
COACH FUENTE: No, we don’t hit the quarterback anyway during the season, so… Those guys, whether they’re carrying the ball or not, they don’t take contact until game day. There’s not much you can do for a quarterback other than have him sit out some reps. At that position, I don’t see fatigue being a huge deal.

Q. What has been the key to your defensive success on third down this season? What do you see from Georgia Tech’s defense in your scouting?
COACH FUENTE: I think our success on third down has been a byproduct of several different things. We’ve been able to force some third-and-longer yardage situations, which obviously helps your percentage. When we’ve been in those longer down situations, defensively we’ve been able to mix up our calls. We at times have been able to get some pressure with three- or four-man rush, then mix in some pressure. We’ve done a decent job in the back end with a couple different coverage combinations, try to mix up some looks. I think that’s helped.

But anytime the offense is in third-and-longer situations as opposed to third-and-shorter, it should help your defensive efficiency.

As far as Georgia Tech, I know they had a rough outing last week. The North Carolina offense was awfully efficient throwing and running the football. From what I’ve seen throughout the year, they’re a much better defense. They’re incredibly sound in their schemes and their techniques. Their kids are playing hard. They do some things that can certainly cause you some problems.

Q. This is obviously introduction for you to Georgia Tech and what they do, the rivalry they have with Virginia Tech. How do you study up and learn about them as you prepare for this game?
COACH FUENTE: Well, I’ve been the beneficiary of getting to watch this game from a distance for several years. Last year it was on, if I’m not mistaken, a Thursday night at Georgia Tech. I watched it on television.

Obviously we have great resources here in terms of understanding the history and rivalries, when you have Bud still on the staff, Charley Wiles, and even John Ballein still here in the offices to talk about those sorts of things.

Our coaches know, our kids know what kind of dogfight it is every single year. Yards and points and possessions are incredibly valuable and hard to come by. We’ve got to do a great job getting prepared for that sort of game.

Q. In terms of your own offensive line, how do you feel that group has performed this season?
COACH FUENTE: Well, first of all, I would say that in terms of their buy-in, their toughness, their work ethic, their attention to detail, wanting to play well, they’ve been fantastic. I mean, we haven’t always been dominant certainly on the offensive line. But for our talent level, I think those kids are playing at a very good level.

Q. What did you recognize and what have you tried to implement as far as trying to really establish your culture and get this to be your team, following your vision? What have you tried to implement or change?
COACH FUENTE: Well, I think first and foremost we came in here with a great deal of respect for what has happened in the past. I felt like that was important. We weren’t following a coach that got fired or had a bunch of losing seasons. We’re following the most successful coach in the history of the school and a Hall of Famer.

The first thing is, there’s no reason to change things just to change things. In the same respect, I have a way that we need to do things in terms of the way our off-season is run, the way we lift weights, the way we condition in the summertime, the way we practice.

We’ve certainly instituted those things while still trying to pay respect or tribute to the things that have happened in the past. It’s worked well.

I’ll tell you this. The seniors that we have have done a fantastic job. They love and care deeply about Coach Beamer and the coaches that used to be here. In the same respect they have jumped in with both feet from the very first day and done everything we’ve asked them to do, which has certainly aided in the transition.

Q. Is Coach Beamer around much?
COACH FUENTE: Yeah, he comes by. I mean, we’ve gone out of our way to make sure that coach knows he’s welcome here any time. We’d love to see him. He’s also gone out of his way to make sure that we know he’s not looking over our shoulder, judging our every move. He’s been incredibly supportive.

He comes from time to time. Walks on campus. Still has plenty of autographs and that sort of stuff that comes through that he needs to get signed and turned around. We see him from time to time.

Q. What can you tell me about Josh Costner, any good stories?
COACH FUENTE: Fine young man. Going to do a great job with Georgia Tech basketball. Tireless worker. Probably first and foremost, just a great human being.

Q. You won’t have Terrell for the first half. It’s the second time this year you’ve had a targeting ejection. Sounded like you understood or agreed with the call. Maybe a question about the rule and the way it’s worded. Do you think that rule might need some adjustment or tweaking, or is this as good as it can be for a complicated situation?
COACH FUENTE: I certainly think it’s something that warrants discussion in the off-season. I don’t particularly have the answer. I know there have been a lot of things floated around between something similar to basketball in terms of the flagrant one, flagrant two type of situation.

I get it. I understand what we’re doing in terms of protecting kids. I agree with that. I think by and large, if we haven’t gotten rid of, we have limited the plays that nobody wants to see, the play that makes you sick to your stomach when you see it, a completely defenseless player, a defender launching at their head or neck. Those things are not happening.

I think we can always go back at the end of the year, much in the way that coaches do if they evaluate their season, their practice plans, schematics. I think we can take a look at that rule and have good conversations.



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