Post-Game Quotes and Video: Virginia Tech-Liberty

Post-Game Quotes and Video: Virginia Tech-Liberty. By: Jake Lyman | Student Writer November 8, 2020 …
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Virginia Tech Head Coach Justin Fuente

Opening Statement

Congratulations to Liberty for their victory. The end of the game was a pretty amazing turn of events. I thought our guys executed situational football really, really well. That’s what I told them in the locker room. From executing the call to allow them to score on defense, which you can imagine if you’re out there on defense fighting your tail off to try to win the game and you get the call from the head coach to tell you to let them score and how hard that is. They did it. Offense drove down, scored to tie it up. Defense took the field. They line up with 8 seconds left to kick a field goal, a really long field goal. I’ve always done this. I don’t believe in waiting for the last second to call timeout on those situations because I don’t ever like letting the kicker get a free swing out of it. I hollered ‘timeout.’ I guess I waited too long. That’s what I told the team. It’s on me. I called timeout. We blocked the field goal and ran it back for a touchdown. We went from elation to not knowing if we were defending another field goal kick. Then, their offense came on the field and we had to get all the subs back on, the defense back on. Then, we asked our guys to go out there and try to block another kick. I never wait that long. I never have. I always… If we’re going to take a timeout, I take it early, so they don’t get a chance to snap it. I said ‘timeout.’ Didn’t hear me and I screamed ‘timeout.’ The refs blew the whistle. They snapped the ball and we blocked it. Obviously, it didn’t count. It’s pretty crushing. I told our football team, I was really proud of the way they played situational football there at the end. Told them I’ll never get over it. Really wish I hadn’t called timeout.

On defense with 8 seconds left after timeout…

Well, it was pretty difficult to get everyone back out there is the first problem. Once you get the offense taking the field, not the field goal team. Trying to protect the end zone and they threw it underneath us.

On defense not being able to get off field…

I felt like the quarterback is just an added dimension of athleticism and strength. I feel like it was a combination. I can remember one play in particular, it’s second-and-10 and the ball bounces to the unblocked hat and we don’t make the tackle and they get eight yards. And that wasn’t the quarterback, that was the tailback carrying the ball. That’s pretty hard if you’re right there and you can’t make the tackles. It was a combination of not making the plays when they were there. We have not tackled particularly well. We did not tackle particularly well today.

On why calling a field goal on 59-yarder…

What does that mean? … It’s more about making sure you’ve got the right guys out there to go execute the block. I don’t know about the whole icing the kicker thing. Whether it’s 59 yards, 51 yards or 21 yards, you call a timeout to make sure you get everything straightened out. I called it too late. It’s on me.

On Herbert injury…

He played one play and his hamstring is bothering him. It’s been a little bit of an issue for a little while.

On Hendon’s performance…

I thought Hendon played really well. Gave us a chance in the drive down there to go tie it up. Threw the ball pretty well and made some plays with his feet. He played at a pretty high level today.

On fumble before the half that was blown dead…

They blew it dead. We teach our guys that if there’s a ball on the ground you better pick it up because if you have an immediate recovery, even if they blow it dead, you’re going to get the ball. That’s what happened. They blew it dead.

On lack of running backs usage….

No, I feel all right about those guys. I feel good about those guys. Sometimes it’s a pull read, sometimes it’s a give read. We have a few quarterback runs in there for Hendon. He carried the ball more than he usually does today, but that’s not indicative of the feelings about anyone else.

On Rayshard Ashby’s injury status….

I don’t know. I just don’t know yet.

On Hendon Hooker throwing the ball more…

That’s the way the game played out. We don’t set out to throw it a certain amount of times. We throw it based on the way the game is going. Sometimes we’ll throw it ten times, sometimes we’ll throw it 27 times.

On the wide receivers…

I was really proud of those guys. Kaleb made a huge play for a touchdown. Those guys are working hard.

On getting off of the field on defense…

I would be curious to know what the yards to go were on those third downs. Sometimes it’s hard, they run quarterback sweep and they have a blocker for everybody. When it’s fourth and two, that’s a pretty high percentage play. I don’t know what the statistics were on how many yards there were to go, but I felt like it was a lot of third and short, or third and medium, then fourth and short.

On taking the field goal instead of going for the touchdown at the end of the half…

I didn’t want to. I felt like we kind of got, the offside penalty, I felt like if we had a little bit more time, I think it was four seconds. If you go run a play and don’t get to kick a field goal. If you have six seconds, sure. There were eight seconds on the clock on the play before and then there were four seconds. So, you were basically going to say you get a touchdown or nothing. I just felt like that was what we had to do.

On Tayvion Robinson as a punt returner…

I felt like last week, we made a big stride there. He was getting his confidence back and playing with a little more confidence. He’s a great kid and a great worker. He loves playing ball at Virginia Tech. He made a mistake, but you’ve got to love him and support him and let him know you care about him.

On bouncing back…

We played without James Mitchell and Khalil Herbert and Rayshard Ashby for a large portion of the game. There’s probably more that I’m just drawing a blank on. I’m starting to see some other guys step up and play well like Kaleb and Nick Gallo. That makes me feel good that we have a chance to keep bringing those guys along. I like our character and our work ethic. I just think we’ll be able to bounce back.

Kaleb Smith Virginia Tech
(Virginia Tech Athletics)

Kaleb Smith

On the mood in the locker room…

It’s always tough to end a game like that. Hats off to Liberty, they played well. I’m also proud of our guys and the way they came back and stayed in the game. It gave us a little shock that we didn’t pull it off in the end. We have to keep our head up and move on to next week.

On missing James Mitchell and Khalil Herbert…

I felt like that was more on the coaches’ minds. Throughout the week, I was just preparing to do my job and execute.

On blocking the game-winning field goal initially…

I didn’t hear the whistle. I saw Jermaine [Waller] and everybody celebrating down the field honestly.

On Coach Fuente admitting he made a mistake by calling the timeout…

We were all very disappointed. At the end of the day, I was hurt for a while, but we’ll get back to work tomorrow and get focused for next week.

On the passing game…

I think as we have a lot of young guys, including myself personally, who didn’t get a lot of opportunities last year. I think it’s just building relationships and trust that allowed us to start opening up more.

On his game as a receiver…

I’ve had the mentality this season that I’m going to make every play count. Whether that’s no passing and I’m just blocking, I’m going to go all out for it. Now that I’m getting more passes towards me, I can start building my own confidence and work towards perfecting my craft.

On the in-state game against Liberty…

It really doesn’t matter to me what emblem is on the side of the helmet of the team we’re playing against. I love playing against Virginia teams because that’s part of the reason I came here because I do believe that this is the best school in the state. I feel like it does bring more excitement to the matchup, but no matter who it is, we’re going to go out there and give it our all.

Amare Barno Virginia Tech
(Virginia Tech Athletics)

Amare Barno

On whether he heard the whistle on the blocked field goal…

I didn’t think it was going to get called back. I didn’t hear the whistle either, I was just in the moment.

On rebounding after the play was called back…

We just had to line up, play and do what we had to do.

On Fuente taking responsibility for the timeout…

It was just a tough loss.

On Liberty’s offense…

It was just about being locked in and everybody being in their spots and being where they’re supposed to be. They played very hard.

On Malik Wilson…

He was pretty fast, just like most quarterbacks this year. He’s got speed and he can use it, so we just had to be ready.

On playing mobile quarterbacks three weeks in a row…

It teaches you your angles in a way in your pursuit to the ball. You can see where you’ve got to go and cutback angles, so they don’t get back on you.

On his success this season…

Coach Tapp has told me to play fast no matter what I do, right or wrong. Play fast and get back there.

On what went well on the field goal block…

We had a good angle on it because it was a long kick. We were able to get up the middle and block it.

Divine Deablo

On the blocked field goal…

I did not hear the whistle blow and I thought we had won the game. I was looking for the ball and I saw Maine [Waller] running with it. I thought that was the end of the game right there.

On the reaction defense after the touchdown was called back…

We thought they were running a Hail Mary play, so we got our victory team on the field. Their coach made a good play call and just ran a five-yard out. That put them in better position.

On Liberty celebrating on the field…

Props to those guys. Of course it’s frustrating but we didn’t play our best football, so at the end of the day, it’s our fault.

On going from such a high to such a low, so quickly…

That tops the list, Miami maybe from last year. Besides that, that range of emotions was crazy this game, especially at the end.

On Malik Wilson…

The quarterback was a real, big-time player and I can see why we recruited him back in high school. As you can see, he had a lot of yards on the ground, so we have to do a better job of containing the quarterback, no matter who it is.

On the difference between the two field goal attempts…

We brought offensive linemen in to fill in the A and B gaps. They’re the biggest guys on the team, so that helps a lot. I’m on the left side, but not really the edge. We just tried to push them back and get our hands up when the kick it and it worked out on the first kick.

On Coach Fuente taking responsibility for the timeout…

I already had a lot of respect for Coach Fuente, but after he came in the locker room and apologized to us, I gained a lot more respect for him. He also explained how we shouldn’t have been in that situation in the first place, which I understand completely. We should’ve played a lot better, but I respect him for coming into the locker room and apologizing to us.

Hendon Hooker Virginia Tech
(Virginia Tech Athletics)

Hendon Hooker

On the end of the game…

I heard a whistle, but I thought it was an inadvertent whistle. I thought I was just imagining things. I saw a block and I thought the game was over. It’s a tough one and it’s a tough situation. We just have to bounce back from it.

On the locker room after the game…

It was nothing but respect, it takes a lot for someone to apologize to a group of men. To take all the pressure and put it on himself. It takes a lot. Like I said before, we just going to come in tomorrow and get to work and take a lesson.

On players stepping up late in the game…

Like I say every week, there’s always going to be guys that compete their tails off day in and day out. And that’s what we did today. Our receivers work really hard throughout the week to earn opportunities and also get the ball in their hands, and so I just want to reward them for all their hard work. Kaleb Smith, we have conversations every weekend, he’s my roommate in the hotel. I say that sometimes they might be out but I need you to catch them and it’s all going to work out in the end. He made some big plays and Tayvion stepped up. Nick Gallo made some big plays with James out. Drake Deluliis made a big contribution. And, also Tre Turner he had a big game.

On the two-point conversion…

I was just trying make a play. We had a little naked rollout to the boundary. And I saw the flat defender kind of bounce to Raheem. I was thinking, “Ok I am going to cut it up and run it in.” But he bounced off of him at the last minute and I was still behind the line of scrimmage, so I just flipped it out to him.

On Tayvion Robinson’s struggles at punt returner…

I talked to him during the game and after the game. I tried to tell him we’re going to get it back. We can drive down the score. Keep your head up and don’t let one play dictate the rest of the game. You know just try to say some positive things to get him up in spirits. He hit me with a big grin and he said let’s go ball. So, you know we got to driving. After the game I talked to him a little bit. He said we’re just going to bounce back the next week and we’ll work on punt return in practice. Sometimes in the game, the ball won’t bounce the way you think it’s going to bounce. You have to continue to work hard and keep a positive attitude.

On getting running backs involved…

I’m always going to defer to giving my teammates the ball more than me every time. The play calls today were a lot of zone reads. They were giving me pull reads to keep it. I was just executing the play call and playing ball at the end of the day.

On Malik Wilson…

Me and Malik have a good relationship. It’s always good to see another quarterback out there. Playing their game and just having fun. At the end of the day, we are trying to persevere through all the trials and tribulations on the field. We’re trying to move the ball down the field and seeing the offense operate was really cool to see.

On playing with pressure…

It is part of the game. I talk to my Dad about it all the time. He says I imagine myself going into the center when I’m at the desk all the time. Those are the times you’re going to remember. If you’re a great ball player, you want those times. You want the ball in your hands at those times. Those times are just part of the games, as well as building a legacy with the offense. We drove down and scored and executed the way we’ve been practicing.

On adjusting without Khalil Herbert…

We have endless running backs. We have Jalen Holston, we have Raheem, we have Marco Lee. We have an arsenal of backs. They all have a different game. Marco is more with speed. He has patience. Jalen is power with speed. Raheem has just speed and he’s electrifying. He can catch out of the backfield. He can do it all. Then, you’ve got Khalil. It’s just a blessing to have all of those guys.

On the rest of the offense being limited…

I knew James was going to be out. I didn’t know how hurt Khalil was. He’s a real warrior. So is James. James was still trying to play today. You’ve got to think for the future. Saving those guys will benefit us in the end

On the two-minute offense…

Like I said before, going out there and having fun. We’re staying calm and getting communicated. Making sure guys know what they’re doing. Also, going through countless hours of film. Different games, different situations. What they do third and extra-long, third and short. We just look at different tendencies of what they like to do against the defense.

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