Coming off a disappointing loss at Syracuse, Virginia Tech quickly has another tough task, when it welcomes Miami tomorrow. Can the Hokies stay on track to win the ACC coastal division? Coach Justin Fuente talked about that and more this week on the teleconference.
Check out the video above and the full transcript below:
FUENTE: Kids have done a great job rebounding off a tough loss last week, and on a short week, we've got an awfully talented Miami team coming to town, and looking forward to playing on Thursday.
To go back to that Syracuse game, just what you can say about -- obviously having played Babers the years prior with Memphis and Bowling Green, were there any differences? Were there a lot of parallels? How did you kind of see the way he ran that offense with the personnel he had as compared to the year before?
FUENTE: Well, awfully similar. I mean, I know that system is having some success across college football. The pace with which they move is hard to duplicate. They were incredibly efficient on 3rd and 4th downs. We couldn't quite get off the field the way we wanted to.
But some similarities. Within any game, in any system, obviously there's variations in terms of personnel and all that sort of stuff, but the biggest thing is their willingness to throw the ball multiple times and obviously the speed that they move at.
And then as far as you being in your first year at Virginia Tech and having success, what can you say you saw from that game from Dino Babers and his first year at Syracuse, as well?
FUENTE: Well, I have a tremendous amount of respect for Dino, both as a coach and as a person. I've just known him for -- since last year, but I think he obviously has a plan for what they want to do, and that plan has been successful at every place he's been, whether it was Eastern Illinois or Bowling Green. Once he gets all his pieces in place and they get rocking in that dome, it's certainly going to be a force to be reckoned with.
With Miami defensively, they lead the nation in tackles for loss per game. What are you seeing in that aspect? Is it aggressive blitzing, or are they just doing a nice job of kind of getting behind the line of scrimmage, getting penetration? What's led to that statistic?
FUENTE: Their defensive line is very good, big and athletic, and they have done a good job with their blitz packages, which has led to them playing on the other side of the line of scrimmage most of the time. I think some of it is because of their scheme, and other parts of it is because of their personnel. They've done a great job blending both of those together.
Also the past two weeks for you guys offensively, you've become fairly reliant on Jerod and running the ball. I know you have lots of options offensively. Is that something that Syracuse and the weather at Carolina forced you into, or is that a direction that you'd like to take the offense?
FUENTE: Oh, I think we're going to go into every week with a couple ways for Jerod to run the football. The North Carolina game was obviously an outlier in terms of the weather, but we want everybody to touch the ball, everybody to get a chance to make plays.
Justin, you said earlier this week in your press conference Monday that everything at Syracuse was a little bit off, so I'm wondering, where did you start in practice? What were the things you absolutely wanted to make sure you had time to get to on a shortened week?
FUENTE: Well, it's a pretty big challenge on a short week, but we try and cover as many of the situations as we possibly can from 1st down to 3rd down and red zone and coming off and goal line, 3rd and short, 3rd and long. You know, I think you have to rely a little bit on these weeks on your long-term training in terms of what you've done in spring practice, what you've done in two-a-days to help you execute against the different looks you're going to see in a short week because there's just not enough time to absolutely cover everything the way you would on a normal week.
I know you usually don't talk about this or mention the fans or what the football program means to the fans in Blacksburg, but what have you heard about the tradition of Thursday night games and how big of a deal that is in Blacksburg?
FUENTE: Sure, through my time here and through the wintertime and into the spring and summer, my conversations with boosters or fans or people in the community always centered around how excited they were that we had a Thursday night home game this year and how they were anxious to show it off. It's obvious it's very important to people here. I'm excited to be a part of it. I have watched Virginia Tech play from my own living room many times through the years on Thursday nights, and I'm excited to get to be a part of it.
Talk about Miami's running game; they have a couple good running backs in Walton and Yearby and anybody they can grab off the bench to run the football. What do you have to do to stop the run tomorrow night?
FUENTE: Well, they've got a long history of being able to run the football. That's why they've won so many games. They're really talented in the backfield. It's a delicate balance, too, because you've got to commit guys to stopping the run, which obviously leaves you vulnerable to big plays in the passing game, and they certainly have people on the outside and a very talented quarterback that can make you pay there. We'll have to do a great job making sure we're in our gap, making sure we're accountable to each other and doing a great job of running to the football to try and get the back on the ground.
You were talking earlier about Miami's defense. They have a lot of freshmen like Shaq and other good players, as well, like Corn Elder is one of the safeties. What do you see on their defense that might give you some problems Thursday?
FUENTE: Well, they've got four seniors in the secondary, very, very good, long football players. They've got three freshmen linebackers that don't look like freshmen. I mean, they're big, athletic guys that are getting better every single week, and then their defensive line is a penetrating defensive line. They like to move them.
They haven't given up very many points, period, to anybody through the season. The reason for that is a combination. They've got good people, good personnel, combined with a coaching staff that does a great job putting them in good situations.