Press Conference: Virginia Tech football coach Justin Fuente

Virginia Tech football coach Justin Fuente talks with reporters ahead of the Hokies’ opener with West Virginia.

virginia tech acc kickoffOpening statement
“Obviously today is the first day of school, so I want to welcome everybody back to Virginia Tech. The kids (players) are off today and we will get into our normal routine tomorrow. We kind of had a good dress rehearsal this weekend, things went well and guys handled it well. We are starting to get our legs back and you can tell there is a little more spring in our step. I know you guys have seen the depth chart. The thing I will tell you is the guys you see that are second, have a chance to play probably quite a bit. Things can always change. We wrapped up a very productive camp and we are anxious to get ready to play West Virginia and our travels to DC.”

On what the week looks like with playing on Sunday instead of Saturday:
“Usually, when we play the first game or coming off a bye week and we have a little bit longer preparation, we will have our big practice on a Sunday and then have Monday off then our Tuesday will be like our Wednesday and we’ll have an extra non-padded practice when we have a long week of preparation leading up to the game. So, we have taken that schedule and have bumped it to tomorrow. So, we’ll have a non-padded practice later in the week, so our Tuesday and Wednesday practices will be the same as a normal prep week, we’ll just have an extra day in there with no pads.”

On what he has saw in Kyle Chung and Braxton Pfaff to name them starters and if the injury to
Tyrell Smith was a factor:
“Well, first of all it hampered him [Smith] a little bit during camp, but he did a great job of battling through it, he’s good to go. I’m certainly not down on Tyrell [Smith], I would anticipate he’ll have a huge role in what we are doing. Kind of a product of that is we moved Kyle [Chung] out there and he’s always been an athletic guy for us and really took to it pretty well. That’s the way we are rolling right now, but I’ve been pleased with his work there. At tackle, Braxton [Pfaff] has been really consistent. He’s played quite a bit just over his time, never as full-time starter, but has gotten significant game reps through his career – and he’s been the most consistent guy there at right guard.”

On what will be going through his head moments before the first game:
“Probably all of those things, I mean you’ve got a little bit of everything going on. We do some live special teams work, which helps temper your fears when you covering the very first kick of the year or when you’re trying to return the first kick of the year. But there’s no substitute for game experience. It takes a little while for guys to get into game shape. I don’t know if it is because of the anxiety that goes with playing early in the year or what it is. It just seems like after the third week guys are more settled into it and can play some more snaps in a row or could do maybe a little more on special team. We try to take that into consideration early in the year, which leads to some more young guys getting out there. But when you kick it off to start the season on a fantastic stage against a great opponent, you can’t help but feel all of those emotions as the ball kicks off.”

On how far cornerback Bryce Watts has progressed to being the fourth corner:
“I’ve been really pleased with Bryce [Watts] and his ability to maintain throughout camp. You know, sometimes you see those young guys hit a wall and their development stalls or maybe the take a step backwards because it’s just more than maybe they are ready to handle. Bryce has not been that way. He’s just continued to get better every single day. We all know he can really run and he was a productive player on both sides of the ball in high school. The thing that sticks out is his ability to continue to do it every single day. Those top three guys are the top three guys at corner, but we are feeling more comfortable with Bryce every practice.”

On having 11 redshirt and true freshmen on the two-deep and if there is any uneasiness with
that going into the opener:
“Well, certainly I think you always feel a little bit better when you got guys that have been out there before. But they all said they wanted to play when we were recruiting them, so here’s their opportunity. That’s what I tell them too, ‘I sat in your living room and you told me you wanted to play.’ So, it’s not good enough at Virginia Tech just to play, but play well. Sure, there’s some young guys that will be going out there for the first time, but hopefully we’ve done a great job training them and they will be ready to contribute in an efficient manner.”

On with AJ Bush being the backup quarterback, if they will redshirt Hendon Hooker:
“Well, I just think we’ll see as the season goes on. At that position, it is obviously very different than any other position on the field. In my mind, we’ve always handled it with a plan starting out and then we talk about very scenarios on what could happen and what we are going to do during those scenarios. And then those may change from week to week based on Hendon’s [Hooker] continued development, based on AJ’s [Bush] development and all those sorts of things. So, we’ll just have to see and take it one step at a time.”

On if D.J. Reid will have an opportunity to come back with being away for personal reasons:
“No and just to clarify D.J.’s [Reid] situation, he’s just dealing with some things that he needs to go handle. He is certainly on scholarship and all of those sorts of things. There’s just some things he needs to go handle there, football needs to be way down the list for priorities for him right now.”

On how James Clark worked his way into being the starting kick returner:
“Well, he’s really fast. He is a senior, he’s an older guy. Kind of like Mook [Reynolds], he’s an older guy and a trustworthy guy. We feel good about both of those guys. James [Clark] has been consistent throughout practice, that’s what we talk about all the time at all of our positions. Every day at practice is an audition to earn your teammates and coaches’ trust. And every day at practice you either add to that trust or you take away from that trust. Our time with James, he’s added to that trust.”

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