You have to give credit to Virginia Tech head coach Justin Fuente. In naming freshman Josh Jackson the starting quarterback for the season opener against West Virginia, Fuente didn’t overthink the decision. He picked the right guy and chose him at the right time.
In the name of strategy, Fuente could’ve delayed this decision for a couple of more weeks keeping WVU in the dark. Instead of doing that, Fuente chose to go ahead and pick his guy and allow him to receive the bulk of first-team snaps over the next few weeks. Jackson, in his second year in the program, needs that time with his receivers.
He’s continued to improve in terms of his ability to deliver the ball on time. He’s got a pretty good understanding of what we’re trying to get accomplished, [and] like I said, a great demeanor. There’s competitive spirit there—not that there’s not with the other ones, but the word that comes to my mind is, day in and day out, he’s been the most consistent in terms of the things that we talked about, the kind of three criteria that we talked about before this camp started that we were looking for—taking care of the ball, expected outcomes and then how we feel. In those three categories, we feel the best about Josh.
Last fall, when Jerod Evans was also a newcomer, Jackson pushed him. Fuente made his decision later in fall camp, though. At the time, the coach trusted Evans’ game experience from his time at the junior-college level. It ended up being the right decision as Evans had a phenomenal season.
Even as a true freshman last summer, Jackson had a better understanding of the offense than Evans. Fuente praised him throughout last summer and gave the impression that Jackson was a serious contender for the job. While he didn’t win the competition last summer, he gained valuable experience and put himself in the driver’s seat for 2017.
What Jackson needs is a running game. Unfortunately, that remains in limbo, too. So, the coach decided it was imperative for Jackson to get more time with his receivers over the next few weeks of practice.
Since his years of being an offensive coordinator at TCU, to his time at Memphis, Fuente has always made the right decision at quarterback. There’s no reason to believe this season will be any different.