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Soundbites vs. North Carolina – Virginia Tech Athletics

Soundbites vs. North Carolina - Virginia Tech Athletics


Head coach Justin Fuente and players address the media

9/4/2021 12:03:00 AM

BLACKSBURG – Following its win over No. 10 North Carolina Friday night, Virginia Tech football head coach Justin Fuente and select players met with the media for a press conference. Read what Fuente and the others had to say below.


Opening statement: 

“Well first, what an unbelievable crowd tonight. I mean, I’ve never seen it like that. It was different. And so much energy. So much so many festivities, so much loud music it was awesome. Our fans were incredible. They played a huge role in the game. In my opinion, just looking back on the game. I’m awful proud of our football team, and how they prepared all through fall camp. For a game that nobody thought we could win. The group that most people had given up on to come out and play like that really makes me proud. Basically, the first half I felt like I mean this is not literal, but I felt like the offense played the whole first half. The defense played the whole second half. We tried to deliberately keep the ball away from North Carolina, a little bit. It worked well in the first half. Second half didn’t work as well, and we had several opportunities to kind of end the game and we could not do it, our execution was poor. But our defenses continue to rise to the occasion with energy and execution. We looked fast. Really proud of the defensive staff. Coach Hamilton and the defensive players. Peter Moore really punting in his first game had a good game. Parker (Clements) I know he missed the short field goal, but he drills the big long one. So many plays. It’s a great team effort.”


On changing the narrative of the program to recruits:

“Yeah, I mean, perception and all that sort of stuff. We just continue to try and teach the right things and try to be about the right things. I do feel good about this group, and there’s a long season ahead of us and many of the variables are up in the air. I do feel good about this group, and they got rewarded tonight. This is just one game, and we’ll enjoy it. We’ll work a little bit tomorrow and then Sunday, we’ve got to get ready to go. It’s nice to get to enjoy it for a little bit but we got to turn the page.”


On play style against UNC and QB Braxton Burmeister’s instructions:

“Well, we still wanted to be able to change the tempo. I did not direct the offensive staff that he had to snap the ball every single time under five seconds, but you know when the clock was running, we kind of wanted to keep it running. We did it a little bit in the Virginia game too at the end of the year. It has helped our defense play a little bit faster and stay a little bit fresher. I mean, but if you don’t stay on field, it doesn’t do you any good. As you saw in the second half, compared to the start of it when you just go through. So, I mean we were, we still wanted to be able to do that, manipulate the tempo, but by and large we were trying to slow down.”


On what was working in the first half for the offense and how they slowed in the second:

“In the first half, we had a great game plan going into the game. We’ve been practicing huddling and breaking the huddle late, and then also going as quick as we can sometimes. Then in the second half, I’m going take the blame on that one. I missed a few throws on third down that we could’ve converted on, and I had a turnover the second half as well. So, I think the second half was on me for sure.”


On the defense’s performance: 

“It was amazing. I felt like on offense, we started hot, and then the defense kind of held us in late in the game, and throughout the stretch of the game, they played amazing. They kept my confidence high. I knew that they’re going to get stops and that really helped our offense as well.”



On the defensive effort against UNC:

“That’s what we expected. Nobody expected it. I saw College Gameday last week had everybody voted straight Carolina blue, and that didn’t upset me because I knew what it was like. So, we just had to go out there and show the world what we knew. We knew we were on the big stage and that everybody was watching us. We had to go out there and show what we had, and we did. We knew it was going to happen, and we’re not shocked by it.”


On the defensive line against a talented UNC offensive front:

“I mean, I knew the key. The game was to stop the run. First off, we did that until like maybe we got past the situation they run the ball over little dime packages and stuff like that. But we’ve stopped the run. Then, when you make an offense one dimensional and you have athletes on the edge in the middle, I’m taking those against any five in the country, as one-on-one matchups. So, I mean, they did that, they got pressure and we got after them. The proof is in the pudding, I’d say.”


On getting pressure on UNC QB Sam Howell:

“All we do is trust our training. Our coaches told us all week that they were bringing back four starters and how they had a great quarterback that’s going to probably be drafted in the top five in the next upcoming NFL Draft. So, we just wanted to make sure that whatever our call Coach [Justin] Hamilton was calling, we wanted to execute to the fullest and to the best of our ability as we can. I think he saw that saw that’s what we ended up doing.”


On the defense getting set out to make plays all night:

“I kind of like playing defense. I guess we all like play defense, obviously. I can play defense all game, as long as they [the Tech offense] go give me one touchdown. I think as a defense we’re confident enough that we take them and we can hold a team like that, as long as we got that one score – if it’s three points, seven points. We’ll go out there and play defense all day. We know the offense got our back whenever they really need to, so we count on those guys just like they count on us. As a defense, that’s really all you want. You know, the whole team counting on you, and you know you walk away with a lot of swagger.”


On what the win meant to the players:

“It meant a lot. We’ve been going through a lot of stuff. Last year, just all the work we put in from January when we came back from break, it just meant a lot. We put it on display.” 


On forcing UNC QB Sam Howell into three interceptions:

“Everybody did their job. We played the game and stuck together because it wasn’t easy. Coach Fuente told us, ‘This will take every minute. It might go into overtime, but you’ve just got to be the tougher team and you’ll come out on top.’”