On Saturday, Virginia Tech will face Tennessee in the Battle at Bristol. What are Fuente's thoughts on what will be over 150,000 at Bristol Motor Speedway? He addressed that and more this week on the teleconference.
Check out the video above and the full transcript below:
COACH FUENTE: Happy to get the win last week versus Liberty. Plenty of things for us to teach off of from our opening game in all three phases of the game. We've got a tremendous challenge this week in playing a very talented and highly-ranked, deservedly so, Tennessee team. So we've had a good week of practice so far, and I'm looking forward to continuing that today.
Q. Good morning, Coach. I'm wondering, in your review of the opening game, did you have any sense of how the play went at the guard position with Wyatt Teller and Colt Pettit there, and what you can share with us about their competition for that spot?
COACH FUENTE: Yeah, we'll continue to rotate those guys through, kind of like we talked about on Monday. Our inside guys, we'll continue to kind of shuffle those guys through. I feel like we played better at tackle than we did on the inside, just in general, and we'll continue to roll those guys through.
Q. This is a little bit random, but have members of your staff or anyone been down to Bristol to check out things like the coaching box, and what do you know about the facility there in terms of your working space?
COACH FUENTE: Well, we've had a bunch of people from our staff make trips to Bristol. Obviously, we'll be there Friday to continue to review where we're at and all that kind of stuff. I don't imagine it will really change much in terms of the way we operate. I don't -- our defensive play caller is on the field; our offensive play caller is in the box. I don't anticipate those things changing.
Q. Justin, with Bob Shoop being in his first year as Tennessee's defensive coordinator, do you guys go back and look at any Penn State video or is it strictly off the Tennessee-Appalachian State game?
COACH FUENTE: No, we certainly go back and look at Penn State and the things that he did there. Just like I would imagine, they'd probably go back and look at Memphis film from us offensively.
Q. What are your impressions of what he did at Penn State and what he's doing there at Tennessee?
COACH FUENTE: Well, he's obviously got a great reputation in this business, deservedly so. His teams are incredibly sound, aggressive. He sells it to kids who absolutely know what they're doing assignment-wise and technique-wise, and it gives them a chance to really play fast.
Like I said, he's got a fantastic reputation in our business. From what I've seen or evaluated, it's all absolutely deserved.
Q. Kind of just assessing Jerod Evans' play at quarterback for you after week one, what your big takeaways were from that?
COACH FUENTE: Some good, some bad. Made a couple nice rows into tight coverage. Handled just the operation -- no matter what level you're playing at, just operating and handling the play calls and the communication, I think he did a good job of that for his first time out. There's plenty of things for us to work off of. It was very far from a perfect game, and many teaching points to take away from that first game, the first one being valuing the football. It's something that -- there's a couple plays in there where we did not do a good job of that, and that's going to have to change if we're going to have a chance to be as good as we'd like to be.
Q. Then as far as your description of the environment in Blacksburg around your football team and how they welcomed you, I mean, obviously, this Game 1 has been a long time coming for you, and just what you took away from the environment around you there?
COACH FUENTE: Yeah, well, first of all, on a personal level, everybody has been fantastic between my wife and kids and our family welcoming us with open arms. Everything that we'd ever heard about Blacksburg, Virginia, has been true, and those expectations have been exceeded. As far as the game-day atmosphere, Virginia Tech fans have been very proud of their game-day atmosphere, and after getting to spend one Saturday with them, I would agree with that. It's kind of what college football's all about. You've got pageantry and passionate fans. It was just a lot of fun to be a part of. I'm hopeful that I get to be a part of many more.
Q. Coach, you mentioned Tennessee deserves its rating. What impresses you the most about Tennessee?
COACH FUENTE: Oh, their talent level is pretty high in my opinion. You just watch them across the board. It's pretty hard to find a weakness on either side of the ball or in special teams personnel-wise. They're just absolutely loaded across the board.
Q. Also, you've got a running back that gained 1,000 yards last year in Travon McMillian, he did not gain a lot of yards in your opener. How does he fit into your system?
COACH FUENTE: Well, we like to find different ways to run the football. I mean, we continue to shuttle guys in and out and -- whether it's at the tailback spot or get carries for wide receivers. My biggest deal as a team, is we've got to learn to play without the football, and I don't mean just Travon, I mean everybody, the other running backs, the tight ends, the wide receivers. They've got to learn to play when they don't have the ball and play at a high level when they don't have the ball. So we're still getting there. We're certainly not there in that respect. But how does he fit into my system? I think he fits well. We have an offensive system that's centered around running the football. I haven't had one dominant player really at anyplace that I've been that got all of the carries, and I don't think we're in that situation here. So we'll continue to spread it around and see if we can't run the football a little bit.
Q. One other thing, how good is Isaiah Ford for you at receiver?
COACH FUENTE: Well, I mean, I'll leave that up to everybody else to decide how good he is. I think he's pretty talented. He's highly intelligent, understands the game. First and foremost, he's a great person, great human being, a pleasure to coach, and he's worked incredibly hard in the off-season. He's gained some strengths, added some pounds to kind of a thin frame. So I'm certainly glad we've got him, and we'll continue to try and find ways to get him involved.
Q. Just wondering if it was you and Whit who approached Coach Beamer and asked him to be a part of the proceedings this weekend or if you had anything to do with him getting involved at Bristol?
COACH FUENTE: To be honest with you, other than actually playing the game, this ball has been rolling for so long before I got here. I've had very little to do with everything else, and that's the way I've asked for it to be. Coach Beamer knows that we always want him to be a part of as much as he would like, but as far as this game specifically and all the other things that are going on, I have kind of been -- at my request, they have taken the ball and run on those things.
Q. Tennessee's got a lot of guys back on offense. They struggled to move the ball Thursday. I'm just wondering what your impression is of film of what Tennessee has on offense?
COACH FUENTE: Well, I'm sure they didn't score as many points as they'd like. The bottom line is they found a way to win the game. I think Appalachian State is better than anybody gives them credit for. I think Tennessee would probably vouch for that too. When you watch them on film, they've got good football players and a good scheme, and certainly did a good job.
My kind of first take from watching Tennessee on offense are all the weapons they have. Obviously their tailback stands out. He is a large, athletic, downhill runner. Boy, he's a good football player, and they've got weapons on the outside and they seem to be pretty big and athletic up front. All of that combined with a dual-threat quarterback. So there is plenty to say grace over when you watch their offense.
Q. You talked about Jerod Evans earlier, 222 yards, throwing four touchdowns. He also led your team in rushing. Do you like the dual-threat ability that he brings to the table?
COACH FUENTE: I do. I've always felt like I never -- let me backtrack. Yes, I do. I've never really wanted the quarterback to carry the ball 35 times in a game, but I do think it's an added dimension. We did it a little bit with Paxton at Memphis, and before that we did it a little bit with Andy Dalton at TCU. So having that dimension, I think, at least makes it a little more difficult on the defense.