1. The first question of Fuente's press conference was "who's the quarterback?" It turns out no news is still news, as Fuente still hasn't committed to anyone, continuing to Urban Meyer the situation. That might actually be a good thing. The new coach confirmed that it is a two horse race between Brendan Motley and newcomer Jerod Evans which I don't think is new news for anyone that's been following it closely. Competition will bring out the best in both quarterbacks. It remains to be seen if the best in either guy will be good enough for the offense to execute at a high level.
2. Since Fuente gave what was basically a non-answer to the quarterback question, I asked what three traits he looks for in a QB to get a better idea of what his criteria is for selecting a starter.
Three traits for playing QB:— Gobbler Country (@gobblercountry) July 21, 2016
1. Don't lose the game/no turnovers
2. Handling emotions/keeping composure
3. Predicted outcomes
I don't know if either Motley or Evans would be great for Fuente if those are the big three traits he looks for. We'll have a post on this topic eventually.
3. One of the more out of the blue questions was about the dinners Fuente has at his house. He's had more than one so far. When Ekanem was asked about them, he called them "great bonding moments". For a team with a new coach, it's important to create a family in the locker room. Fuente extending his own family to the one on the football field should help create that environment where players are playing for each other and their coach, and will do their job to not let the team down.
4. At Memphis, Fuente used a high tempo offense to wear defenses out while putting up points in bunches. That may not be a continuing trend in Blacksburg. Fuente understands that it doesn't matter if you're moving at warp speed if you can't execute - there's no way the Hokies will be successful. The defense will be on the field longer and it's not the dominating defense we've seen in the past from Virginia Tech. I think we'll see more tempo as the season comes to close, but I wouldn't expect too much of it early on. Here's a great quote on what tempo can do if overused:
justin fuente: '[tempo] is like pizza or candy or soda pop ... too much of it is not a good thing'— martin rickman (@martinrickman) July 21, 2016
5. With Luther Maddy, Dadi Nicholas, and Corey Marshall no longer wreaking havoc against quarterbacks in college, that burden falls onto Ken Ekanem. The defensive end will have his work cut out for him, as he will face far more double teams than last year.
On being the guy to get the QB with Maddy and Nicholas gone: "I have to fulfill that role but we also have other guys that can do it too."— Gobbler Country (@gobblercountry) July 21, 2016
Ekanem has confidence in some of the younger guys to step up and help him in building a solid defensive front this year. The redshirt senior thought the depth of the line was a strength.
"We have a lot of depth, especially at Defensive Tackle, a lot of experience there," said Ekanem. "Then at Defensive End we have Vinny Mihota who played last season, Seth Dooley who's been a backup the past few seasons. Hoshun Gaines and Trevon Hill have been doing a nice job as well."
Bud Foster's scheme is predicated on the defensive line forcing their will in the trenches. Ekanem needs all the help he can get.
6. Sam Rogers has been more or less a Swiss army knife for this football team. He's simply done it all while giving it his all, but in the new offense his niche could be different than the one he's enjoyed success with in last few seasons. Even Rogers isn't totally certain of his new role.
"It's hard to say," Rogers said. "Their H-back Alan Cross - I originally thought that's the kind of stuff that I'd be doing, a lot of stuff that running backs do. There are multiple running back sets and I could also see hybrid formations."
Rogers' role this year will be one of the more interesting things to watch as the season progresses. I might write up a post about Alan Cross and his importance to the offense at Memphis which is what Sam might be doing come August.
7. Ever since Tyjuan Garbutt decommitted, fans have been questioning Fuente's recruiting prowess. The new coach touched on the topic of recruiting, specifically in the 757 area. Fuente is confident that he will develop good, lasting relationships with Virginia high schools, which is the fundamental need for recruiting well.
"We've been received very well," the first-year coach confirmed. "I look for it to continue to be a positive thing. It's an emphasis for us."
Whether or not it's emphasized isn't important in the end. What's important is landing those recruits and making sure Virginia recruits stay in-state. Results are the only thing that matters when it comes to the world of recruiting.
8. In his opening statement, Fuente discussed his decision to come to Blacksburg and become the successor to Coach Beamer. Fuente said he always admired what Beamer did for the program, and when talking about why he wanted to be the new coach at Virginia Tech, he simply said "Why not?" And it was a real genuine response, which I like to see in a new coach. Respect what was there before you and try to build off of it.
9. "Hard, Smart, Tough."
That's been Fuente's motto for his players, and it's similar to what he was doing to help rebuild Memphis' program. Before the 2014 season in which Memphis won the AAC, Fuente's players had the highest GPA for the football team in school history, and it was partly because of preaching to his players the same type of motto. Work hard and make smart decisions in every facet of your life and good things will happen. While this motto has been understood by most of the team *cough* Adonis Alexander *cough* Hoshun Gaines *cough*, winning will always be the most important motto for a team.
10. Football season is around the corner and I, for one, can't wait. Before we know it, the Hokies will be playing under the lights at Bristol Motor Speedway against Tennessee. But the team can't get too far ahead of itself. Sam Rogers likes to set unrealistic goals, but also knows that you have to take it one day at a time.
"Right now we have to worry about week one, worry about getting better right now," said Rogers. "I know that sounds cliché, but it's true. That's what we're going to focus on right now."
Bristol will be that much more memorable if the Hokies come out with the W, and Sam knows that. It's up to the juniors and seniors of this team to keep the team in mentally in check and not get too carried away with the spectacle looming in their Week 2 schedule.