This week, we chatted with Roy Hatfield over at the Hokie blog, Gobbler Country, about various things from coaching changes to turkey legs. Stop over there, say hello, and check out the FTRS answers over on their blog later this week.
I thought Justin Fuente to VT was the best hire of the offseason, especially with the Hokies being able to keep Bud Foster - how has the transition from Beamer to Fuente been? I'm sure it's not easy following the school's biggest coaching legend, so how has he fit in culturally with the program? Also, was Bud Foster not interested in the HC job?
This type of transition can be rocky at best (think Florida State), but both the school and Beamer handled the exit gracefully. Coach Fuente has gone out of his way to pay tribute to Beamer. Every week, the special teams performer of the game gets a special recognition. That player wears Beamer's old number (25) the next week. This has been a huge hit with the players, and Beamer's legacy with special teams carries on. The real coup for the Fuente was keeping Foster. Foster has had other opportunities to coach at the next level, and many thought he was the next guy. I'm sure if you asked Bud Foster he would admit he was disappointed, but I think his personal situation made him want to stay. He just had his first grandson, and has ties all over Blacksburg. Quite frankly, I think he just loves Blacksburg.
We saw VT get undone by turnovers to open the season against Tennessee, but since then, the team has won 6 of their last 7 games, usually in convincing fashion... so what in the world happened against Syracuse? This team looked scary before, and has looked scary after. I only saw highlights of the game, but that loss seems all but random.
The Syracuse game reminded me of 2015, which isn't a good thing. The team was flatter than a pancake, and Dino Babers had an incredible gameplan. When it became clear we weren't going to win, my thoughts turned to, "Crap, now everyone has the blueprint to pick us apart." The team got down early and never responded. One thing Virginia Tech needs to do is win close games. The Tennessee game was a boat race, then we had a series of blowouts by us. The Syracuse was the first tight 4th quarter game we have seen. The good news that the Pitt game came down to the wire and so did Duke. These are the types of games young teams have to experience in order to be good closers.
3. The Hokie offense seems to have new life under Fuente. Besides Jerod Evans, who should we be looking out for on offense?
Isaiah Ford (WR) will be playing on Sundays. He was preseason All-A.C.C., and shined so far this season. He's 6'2" 180, so he needs to get a bit bigger. Ford doesn't have blazing speed, but has amazing hands, and an uncanny knack for getting open. He will own almost all Virginia Tech WR records when he leaves. The other match up nightmare is Bucky Hodges. Hodges is a converted TE, who Fuente made a WR. At 6'6" 249, there aren't many corners or safeties that can line up with him. He can run, and some of my draft guys think he could sneak into the first round. The way that Fuente incorporates these guys into the game plan is super creative. Look for a heavy dose of spread option and a mix of play action.
4. On a related note, Georgia Tech has one of the worst defenses in the country this season - how do you see the VT offense exploiting the Yellow Jacket D on Saturday?
Fuente has been pretty focused on improving our running game the past two weeks. I see a steady dose of Sam Rogers and Travon McMillian early. Jerod Evans is a big guy (6'4" 220) but has some nasty moves in traffic. When he is running the option, he's a big load to bring down. The passing game has been incredible for us all year, so I expect big numbers through the air.
5. Are the turkey legs they sell in Lane Stadium as delicious as they look on TV?
I have never had one. My brother drank a bottle of Evan Williams and ate two one time though. Lane Stadium hot dogs have a special place in my heart. One time a U.V.A. fan stood up and flipped off the stands behind him, and some great Hokie hit him in the face with a fully loaded chili dog. #LOLUVA
6. And finally, how do you see this game playing out? What's the final score?
I have some bad news Georgia Tech fans. We are going to beat you pretty convincingly. We are too fast and too deep for you this year. All the injuries for you will leave you vulnerable to our offense. Final Score VT 38 GT 17
Thanks again to Roy for taking the time to chat with us. The Techmo Bowl kicks off at 3:30 in Blacksburg on Saturday. Go Jackets!