Michael Shroyer-USA TODAY Sports
Justin Fuente hopes to turn around Virginia Tech quickly.
When it’s time, it’s time. And despite everything Frank Beamer had accomplished at Virginia Tech, it was time. The nation’s longest-tenured coach had lost a step all around. A program that had reeled off eight consecutive 10-win seasons had slipped back into the ACC pack. Beamer’s decision to retire was his, but it was the right call for both him and the Hokies.
Justin Fuente’s arrival from Memphis is just what Virginia Tech needed. Fresh blood. New ideas. A fast-paced offensive system that won 19 games in two years in a place which was positively moribund before his arrival.
As Matt Murschel of the Orlando Sentinel notes, Fuente is putting his stamp on his new program.
We’ve had a bunch of things that we’ve tried to get across – kind of the foundation for our program, the way that we would like to operate. In many ways, it’s very similar to what I think Coach Beamer has been doing here for 29 years. But the way we practice and the way our offseason is structured and the way we lift is very different and getting the kids adjusted to that and the urgency of movement and also trying to regain a little bit of hunger and a little bit of fire with our kids.
The Hokies return eight starters on offense, and while they have an opening at quarterback, Fuente signed top junior college prospect Jerod Evans to compete with Brenden Motley and Dwayne Lawson. There are questions on the defensive line, where talented seniors Dadi Nicolas, Luther Maddy and Corey Marshall departed.
In addition, All-American corner Kendall Fuller declared for the NFL draft after suffering an early-season torn ACL. But Bud Foster returns as defensive coordinator, and he has a track record of getting the most out of his.
Virginia Tech will face Tennessee at Bristol Motor Speedway in a game expected to attract the largest crowd ever for a college football game, and travels to North Carolina and Notre Dame. But it avoids Clemson and Florida State from the ACC Atlantic rotation, which is fortunate. If Fuente can find a capable quarterback, he’s in line for a big first season in Blacksburg.