Let the finger-pointing begin!
For the third time in 20 years, Virginia Tech is the laughing stock of the college football world for a weekend, and for the first time, it’s Justin Fuente who has to answer for it.
Fans will find a million things to blame for Saturday’s 49-35 loss to Old Dominion. I bet you could run a Twitter search for every name on the roster and coaching staff and find some fan trying to pin this on them. This was a collective effort, but it ultimately falls on the defense. The offense was far from flawless, but 35 points is more than enough to beat ODU. This was the result of an outrageously young defense that bought into its own hype after shutting down Florida State. I’m gonna bet they didn’t catch Syracuse doing the same thing to the Seminoles, and maybe worse two weeks later.
It was a meltdown of the worst proportions. They went full UVA basketball.
YOU NEVER GO FULL UVA BASKETBALL.
Just three weeks after the Bud Foster To The Hall of Fame buzz reached an all-time high, his defense played the worst game of his career. Easily.
Old Dominion entered the game averaging just over 340 yards per game. Yet on Saturday, the Monarchs put up 632 yards of total offense, the most EVER against a Foster defense. The same Bud Foster whose defenses have faced Matt Leinart/Reggie Bush, Matt Ryan, Larry Fitzgerald, Clinton Portis, Peter Warrick and so many other of the best offenses ever just let an 0-3 team from Conference USA light them on fire.
No one thought it’d be this bad of course, but this is closer to the defense we expected to see in 2018. This was the result of losing eight starters, most of them unexpectedly. A secondary that lost Terrell Edmunds to a shocking early draft entry, kicked Mook Reynolds and Adonis Alexander off the team, and lost Jeremy Webb to a ruptured Achilles showed its youth and inexperience on Saturday. ODU’s backup quarterback looked like Baker Mayfield as he tossed four touchdowns with 495 yards to boot.
This is becoming way too much of a habit for a Fuente-coached team. In three years as the coach, the Hokies have played a downright stinker each year. Two years ago it was losing at Syracuse as 22-point favorites. Last season they needed a goal line stand to beat Pitt by 14-point favorites at home. For a coach that has made a name for himself as a program-builder, these are the games that cut you off at the knees. For a program that’s chasing Clemson, these are the game that set you back and make you wonder if it can ever happen.
If you want to find a reason to blame Fuente, look at the penalties. FOUR unsportsmanlike conduct calls were crippling to Tech’s chances. I can’t help but think about Reynolds and Alexander’s dismissal and how many chances they were given before finally getting the boot. I can’t help but think about the very unusual rumors in June of Josh Jackson’s possible academic suspension, before it quietly clearing up. It’s troubling to think about all of this collectively and wonder if there might be a hint of disciplinary concerns bubbling within the program.
Even in the wake of this disastrous moment, no one should be questioning if Fuente was the right guy for the job. The program is in the best shape its been in eight years. This is a low point, but it’s also a chance for a team that’s among the youngest in the country to learn what it means to prepare for anyone. This is why Nick Saban doesn’t care when the media tells him he’s too mean. His teams don’t do what Virginia Tech did on Saturday.
If we learned anything on Saturday, it’s that the Hokies have some growing up to do. Fuente included.
It’s important to remember that Frank Beamer lost a few games like this of his own. It was Temple in 1998 as 35-point favorites. It was JMU in 2010 giving 27.5 points at home. No one was ready to fire Beamer then, and they shouldn’t be ready to toss Fuente either.
If you’re selling your stock in the Hokies, I’ll gladly buy it. Three-quarters of the roster are sophomores or younger. Also, have you seen the rest of the ACC? Fuente’s reputation is at a crossroads this morning. I’m betting on him to fix it.
THE JP TOP 10
I’ll write more on these rankings later in the week, but I’m moving into a new apartment and my girlfriend will kill me if I spend any more time writing today.
1 . Alabama
3. Ohio State
8. Notre Dame