Home Press Conference: Virginia Tech football coach Justin Fuente

Press Conference: Virginia Tech football coach Justin Fuente


fuenteVirginia Tech football coach Justin Fuente talks with reporters at his weekly ACC teleconference.


COACH FUENTE: Happy to get the win last week. Fantastic, collegiate atmosphere. Our kids battled hard after a rough start. We have a tremendous challenge in front of us with our rivalry game with Virginia. Coach Mendenhall has done a great job there on both sides of the ball and we watch them continue to improve week-after-week. It will take a great week of preparation for us to have a chance.

Q. To take a look at where this team is right now, it’s your first season at Virginia Tech and if you win this last game, you’ll be playing your first ACC Championship game at Virginia Tech as a head coach. Can you talk about how important this game is and kind of what brought you here?
COACH FUENTE: Well, I’m excited about our team, and really regardless of what happens on Saturday, but I also understand what this rivalry means, maybe to a lot of people more than the Coastal Division Championship.

I think the thing I’m most pleased with is the makeup of our squad and how they have worked and our senior leadership’s been fantastic. Obviously we haven’t been perfect throughout the year. We’ve had some ups and downs and we’ve got our flaws, but our kids are very good listeners and they show up every week ready to work, and I’m very appreciative of them.

Looking forward to continuing to build this program. You know, we are just getting started.

Q. You’ve given a lot of respect to Frank Beamer and everything that he did before you got there. What can you say about the peaceful transition, so to speak, and how these guys bought into you right away and how much that had to do with what he had already taught them and kind of going from that point?
COACH FUENTE: Well, there’s a lot of people that deserve credit for this and none of them are me. Coach Beamer and the way that he’s handled this transition, how he’s been supportive of us, how he genuinely cares about Virginia Tech and the welfare of this program, I think is the exception to the rule, rather than the rule. I don’t think you’ll ever find a superstar coach or a Hall of Fame coach as humble and as giving as Coach Beamer.

You know, the other part of it is the kids. Our kids have obviously had a very good foundation in terms of team work and work ethic and have embraced everything that we have asked them to do, which is in turn giving us a chance to have some success.

Q. You’ve won eight games and you’re one game of winning the Coastal and getting to the ACC Championship game, you won at Notre Dame. When you took the job, were these reasonable expectations, and what expectations did you have when you took the job?
COACH FUENTE: Well, I didn’t know what we had. I mean, I didn’t have expectations. My expectations were that we would show up and work a certain way on a daily basis and that’s what our kids have done. I didn’t put numbers on it or go through the schedule and check wins and losses and all that sort of stuff. We just put our head down and went to work.

And to our kids’ credit, we have a lot of examples of sevenless football players; guys that are sacrificing of themselves for the betterment of the football team, and that’s in turn given us a chance to succeed.

I think the expectation for Virginia for Virginia Tech football is to compete for the Coastal Division Championship. Doesn’t mean you’re going to win it every year, but I think that’s kind of the starting point for what we’re expected to do.

Q. I don’t know how close you’ve looked at their personnel or what you knew about them coming in, but do you feel like perhaps your cupboard was a bit more stocked than perhaps what Coach Mendenhall had at Virginia?
COACH FUENTE: I don’t know. It’s kind of hard for me to answer, just not knowing his team. You don’t really know what it’s like until you’re on the inside. As much as we all want to act like we really know what it’s like at each intuition or with each team, we really don’t, unless you live it every day.

Obviously recent history at Virginia Tech, had a little bit more success on the field than Virginia, but it’s hard for me to make a call on everybody else’s players.

Q. Last weekend’s big win against Notre Dame, was that your biggest win in your coaching career?
COACH FUENTE: Oh, I don’t know about that. I’ve been fortunate to coach on some great football teams, and been a part of a lot of big victories. You know, I’m proud of the way our kids responded, because really, that game was kind of a quirk in the scheduling. It was a non-conference game the week before our big rival; the week before we had a chance to win the coastal division championship. And then our kids still got ready to go play.

So I’m proud of that. I’m proud of the way that they compete in kind of an odd set of circumstances.

Q. And playing Virginia this week, how is your first true rivalry with Virginia — your first week getting ready for this game, are you learning a lot about Virginia and all about the rivalry?
COACH FUENTE: Sure. I think with each passing day, I gain more perspective on what this means to so many people. You know, I feel like I have a good understanding of it, but it seems like daily, something else is highlighted to me that, again, reinforces the importance of this game to so many people.

Q. What is a Justin Fuente program like the week of Thanksgiving? What is the week like? Do you do a team meal or anything at your house? What are the ways you kind of work around this week?
COACH FUENTE: Sure. Our Monday, our Tuesday, our Wednesday are normal. Our Thursday, we’ll practice in the morning.

So the coaches will stay up here a little bit later Wednesday night and get everything ready, so as soon as we roll in Thursday, we’ll go through — early in the morning, we’ll go through our normal Thursday practice, but we’ll do it early in the morning.

And as soon as we’re done, guys will get showered up and we’ll go eat a big meal together. At that point, kids will be free to go home if they live relatively close. If kids can’t go home, all of the coaches, myself and all of our assistant coaches, open up our homes to the kids if they want to come and lay on the couch and watch TV and eat some more food. That’s kind of how we approach it, and I look forward to this day every year.

Getting to practice football in the morning of Thanksgiving and then go eat as a team and as a family, and then having kids over to the house if they so choose, is always kind of one of my favorite days of the year.

Q. I know you did the kids over the house in the preseason as they were getting to know you. How often do players kind of take you up on that in the past on Thanksgiving and any special food that either you or your wife make in anticipation of their visit?
COACH FUENTE: No, it’s kind of neat, though, nothing special. We usually have some family in town, too. My wife’s family or part of my wife’s family will be in town and they enjoy being around the kids, too. And sometimes there’s a bunch of them and sometimes there’s not. It kind of depends.

I would imagine just because of our location in Blacksburg, that we’re a little bit farther away from some of our kids’ homes. So there may be some more guys take each other up on that deal and sometimes they go to the position coaches or whatever. It’s all fun, when the guys that want to come — there’s no pretenses. It’s pretty relaxed. If they want to come and hang out for a little while, they are more than welcome.



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