Hokies anxious to fix errors, move on to BC

By Jimmy Robertson

BLACKSBURG – Virginia Tech head coach Justin Fuente met with media members Monday afternoon, and much of the discussion centered on his post-mortem of the Clemson game, as the Hokies fell to the defending national champions 31-17 at Lane Stadium on Saturday night.

The Tigers played as expected, particularly on defense where they held Tech to just 4 of 15 on third downs and only allowed Tech to reach the red zone on just two occasions. The Hokies played well on defense for the most part; with the exception of giving up a 60-yard touchdown on a busted coverage and struggling to tackle Clemson quarterback Kelly Bryant on a scoring drive after Travon McMillian’s fumble. But they established little rhythm on offense.

Some of that goes back to Clemson. Yet some can be attributed to self-inflicted mistakes. Those bothered Fuente more than anything.

“There are several things in all three phases of the game that we wish we had done differently or handled differently or played differently,” he said. “We met yesterday and we talked and highlighted some of the things that had nothing to do with Clemson. They made plenty of plays on their own, and we knew that going in. There were several examples of us not doing things well that had everything to do with us. That was probably the most disappointing thing overall.

“There is a litany of things in there. And again, it’s shared … it’s on all of us, obviously me as the head coach to give us the best chance to win with what we’ve got. In order for us to that, we can’t make those silly mistakes.”

If he were grading his team’s performance, Fuente said he would have given it a “very average grade.” He, the coaches and the players were anxious to get to practice Sunday and begin putting the game behind them.

As expected, Tech’s players were down disappointed after the game. They desperately wanted to give the program its second win over a top-five team in program history. But Fuente delivered a rather sharp message about self-pity on Sunday.

“My message was don’t even walk in here and feel sorry for yourself,” he said. “Nobody is going to feel sorry for us. It’s up to us to change the situation we’re in. I think they heard that, and I’m looking forward to seeing them the rest of the week.”

Here are a couple of other nuggets from Monday’s news conference:

• Fuente remained non-committal when asked about tailback Coleman Fox’s role going forward. Fox led Tech in rushing with 39 yards on five carries against Clemson, and he continues to see more playing time, though much of his action came in blowouts of East Carolina and Old Dominion

Steven Peoples missed the Clemson game with an injury, and Fuente said freshman Jalen Holston had been battling sickness. That cleared the way for Fox to move up in the pecking order, and it makes one wonder if he won’t continue to get playing time.

“We’ll see,” Fuente said. “This past week, we had a fumble, we had a missed block on the perimeter, and Coleman had practiced well, so we felt like putting him in there. We’ll see. He’s done a good job when he’s been in there, and he continues to work hard, so we’ll see.”

• While he has been dynamite on kickoffs, Tech kicker Joey Slye missed another field goal, this one from 45 yards out. It didn’t help that Oscar Bradburn mishandled the hold, but the miss marked Slye’s sixth miss of the season in just five games. He missed seven all of last season.

A reporter asked Fuente about Slye and whether he had concerns. Fuente said yes, but offered little in the way of insight.

“Sure,” he said. “Absolutely concerned about it.”

• The Hokies feature three talented cornerbacks in Greg Stroman, Brandon Facyson and Adonis Alexander, but the staff continues to work in young players, as the position lacks depth and to prepare for the future when Stroman and Facyson depart after this season. The one catching everyone’s eye is Bryce Watts, a true freshman from Toms River, New Jersey.

“Watts is the closest one ready to contribute,” Fuente said. “We’re continuing to bring Bryce and some of those young guys along. It is important because you just never know what’s going to happen.”

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