Justin Fuente

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Duke’s biggest blowout of Virginia Tech since 1951 leaves Hokies searching for answers

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After a painfully slow start to the game, Duke (3-1, 1-0) picked up a win in their ACC opener in a big way. Duke’s 45-10 victory at Virginia Tech (2-2, 0-2 ACC) was the most lopsided victory by the Blue Devils in Blacksburg in series history. the win was also the fourth most-lopsided win by Duke against the Hokies and the most decisive victory since 1951.

Virginia Tech struggled to take advantage of great field position early on in the game as Duke struggled to establish anything on offense in the first quarter. One field goal was all Virginia Tech could get on the board but the defense was helping to make up for their own offensive woes. And when a lost fumble led to a quick Duke touchdown, the tide had officially turned on the home team. Duke scored on three consecutive possessions to take a 21-3 lead into halftime.

It was more of the same in the second half as Duke scored 10 points to build a 31-3 lead before Virginia Tech could get back on the board. Duke answered the score with a 10-play touchdown drive capped by a 32-yard Deon Jackson touchdown run. Duke added one more touchdown before the game ended to put an exclamation point on the big win.

While Duke goes home to celebrate their big win in ACC play, Virginia Tech is left trying to put the pieces back together once again. Justin Fuente has failed to get a quarterback he feels comfortable with that can lead the type of offense he had at Memphis. This a week after having to struggle to get past Furman and a closer-than-desired result against Old Dominion. Virginia Tech’s offense has been a disappointment under Fuente, which is particularly shocking because that is why he was brought to Virginia Tech. The offense isn’t the only problem, of course, as Friday night’s results showed.

Virginia Tech will try to rebound next week at Miami. Duke will be home for their next two games in division play with games against Pitt (next week) and Georgia Tech (another program dealing with some struggles).

Justin Fuente says he is not talking to anyone about any potential job offers

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With a job opening at Florida State, one coach who has quickly become a subject of the coaching carousel’s rumor mill has been Virginia Tech head coach Justin Fuente. But fear not, Hokies, because Fuente is telling you there is no cause for alarm in Blacksburg.

Fuente did his best to try and silence the various rumors attempting to tie him potentially being the next head coach at Florida State. According to Fuente, he is not even entertaining any phone calls he says have been made.

“For me, it’s been easy. I’ve declined to talk to anybody that’s come along,” Fuente said during a teleconference for the Camping World Bowl. “So it’s a pretty easy answer for me. I haven’t been interested in going down that road.”

Fuente is in his second season at Virginia Tech and has coached the Hokies to a record of 19-7 with an appearance in the ACC Championship Game last season. Fuente had previously coached Memphis to a 26-23 record over four seasons, turning the program around to be a consistent winner even after his departure. Fuente has won 38 games in the last four seasons, including a pair of bowl victories.

“I think everybody knows I’m incredibly happy at Virginia Tech,” Fuente said. “I think I’ve proved it in my short time here. I would never speculate on any other jobs, other than to say we’ve been approached and I’ve declined to talk to anybody. So it’s pretty much been nipped in the bud right from the start.”

Virginia Tech will play Oklahoma State in the Camping World Bowl on December 28.

Hokies head to East Carolina without CB Adonis Alexander

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Virginia Tech hits the road this week to take on East Carolina, and they are doing so without starting right corner back Adonis Alexander. Hokies head coach Justin Fuente announced Alexander is not traveling with the team this weekend. Without spilling the details for why Alexander is not traveling with the team, Fuente strongly suggested Alexander was in violation of team rules.

“We will continue to uphold the exemplary standards of Virgina Tech football,” Fuente said in a brief statement. “Integrity, trust, and teamwork remain the foundation of this program and that will not change. Adonis has not lived up to our expectations at Virginia Tech.”

Alexander has started each of Virginia Tech’s first two games of the season and has accumulated 14 tackles and three pass breakups. With Adonis not making the trip to East Carolina this weekend, Virginia Tech will likely slide his backup, Brandon Facyson into the starting role. The redshirt senior has one tackle in the first two games of the year.

No team ever wants to go into a game without a starting cornerback, but the Hokies should be OK in this road contest. The Pirates have the nation’s 20th-ranked passing offense with 310.0 passing yards per game through the first two weeks, but Thomas Sirk has just one touchdown and four interceptions and Gardner Minshew has also been picked off once with one touchdown. Given the early season struggles for the Pirates, East Carolina has both quarterback options listed as potential starters as they continue to figure out how to move the football with any consistency.

Virginia Tech and East Carolina will meet at 3:30 p.m. ET on Saturday on CBS Sports Network.

Redshirt freshman Josh Jackson gets starting QB job at Virginia Tech

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One of the first players brought into the Virginia Tech football program under head coach Justin Fuente will now be handed the football as the team’s starting quarterback. Redshirt freshman Josh Jackson has officially been named the starting quarterback for the Hokies in 2017.

Jackson enrolled at Virginia Tech as an early-enrollee in January 2016, shortly after Fuente took over as the head coach of the program after being hired away from Memphis. Fuente’s first season as head coach of the Hokies resulted in an ACC Coastal Division championship and saw a well-respected battle against eventual national champion Clemson in the ACC Championship Game. Fuente’s offensive flair quickly impacted the Virginia Tech football program, and now getting his dual-threat quarterback Jackson into the mix could lead to more success on the football field.

Jackson sat out his freshman season in Blacksburg, meaning he will make his first college start with the Hokies on September 3 when Virginia Tech opens the 2017 season against West Virginia. The Mountaineers will have a new starting quarterback as well, with former Florida quarterback Will Grier expected to lead the Mountaineers.

Saban, Meyer, Harbaugh, Swinney and more among 19 Dodd Trophy watch list candidates

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When you really think about it, a watch list for a college football award is nothing more than a way to keep public relations staffers in college football programs busy this summer. There’s nothing wrong with that, and it is nice to have a number of key players for the upcoming season highlighted whenever possible (unless you are a Big Ten team going to Big Ten media days). But a watch list is generally pretty pointles sin the long run for most awards. This is especially true for a watch list of college football coaches.

The Dodd Trophy watch list was released today with a list of 19 coaches from many of the top programs around the country. Yep, a watch list for head coaches. Silly, right? It really is the easiest watch list to put together.

The award watch list, compiled by the Chick-fil-A Peach Bowl, includes four coaches from the ACC, Big Ten, Pac-12 and SEC, two coaches from the Big 12 and one from the American Athletic Conference. You know all of the names, like national championship coaches Nick Saban, Urban Meyer, and Dabo Swinney; household names like Jim Harbaugh, Mark Richt, Bill Snyder, and Chris Petersen; and conference championship coaches like David Shaw, James Franklin.

Some notable names not on the list? How about Jimbo Fisher of Florida State? Fisher has a playoff contender in Tallahassee and is the ACC favorite. He also has a national championship ring. Not having Fisher on a preseason watch list for top coaches seems like a bad oversight. Not having new Big 12 coaches Tom Herman (Texas) and Lincoln Riley (Oklahoma) also feels like a swing and a miss if pulling together a list of potential coach of the year candidates. If we are not going to just list all 130 head coaches in FBS, it seems silly to have such a weird collection of watch list candidates when Butch Jones is on the list.

Five coaches on the watch list are former winners of the Dodd Trophy; Snyder, Petersen, Swinney, Saban, and Paul Johnson. Paul Chryst, Ken Niumatalolo, and Petersen were finalists for the award last season as well.

2017 Dodd Trophy Watch List

  • Paul Chryst, Wisconsin
  • James Franklin, Penn State
  • Justin Fuente, Virginia Tech
  • Mike Gundy, Oklahoma State
  • Jim Harbaugh, Michigan
  • Clay Helton, USC
  • Paul Johnson, Georgia Tech
  • Butch Jones, Tennessee
  • Gus Malzahn, Auburn
  • Jim McElwain, Florida
  • Urban Meyer, Ohio State
  • Ken Niumatalolo, Navy
  • Chris Petersen, Washington
  • Mark Richt, Miami
  • Nick Saban, Alabama
  • David Shaw, Stanford
  • Bill Snyder, Kansas State
  • Dabo Swinney, Clemson
  • Kyle Whittingham, Utah