Skip to main content
You are the owner of this article.
You have permission to edit this article.
McFarling: Fuente, Hokies reach the sad stage of acceptance

McFarling: Fuente, Hokies reach the sad stage of acceptance

Virginia Tech Boston College Football

Virginia Tech head coach Justin Fuente walks off the field after losing to Boston College on Nov. 5.

CHESTNUT HILL, Mass. — The 2021 Hokies have been through the stages. Hope, disappointment, determination, heartbreak, frustration.

Friday looked like acceptance.

Acceptance that — if there were any lingering doubts — the marriage between Virginia Tech and coach Justin Fuente is ending. Resignation that this football team doesn’t have some miraculous run in it, even as the schedule softened.

You could see it in Fuente’s demeanor after Friday night’s 17-3 loss to Boston College. You could hear it in his voice. He likes his guys, appreciates their commitment, but he’s out of answers. He’s out of rah-rah speeches and viable explanations.

He’s out of time.

The game itself isn’t worth much discussion. The Hokies were missing their No. 1 receiver, Tre Turner, who was out with an injury. He suffered it during a performance against Georgia Tech that earned him ACC Receiver of the Week. In other words, hope immediately was followed by hurt.

Tech’s starting quarterback, Braxton Burmeister, left the game with his own injury with 3:22 left in the first quarter — and never came back in.

The result of those two absences was predictable. An offense that’s been bad all year — Tech entered the night ranked 104th nationally in yards per game — became even worse.

“We made basically no plays in the passing game,” Fuente said.

He’s not wrong.

Backup quarterback Knox Kadum needs more seasoning, obviously, but he is not the sixth-string quarterback. He is the backup. Ol’ No. 2.

The coaches didn’t treat him that way. In the first half, they barely let Kadum throw the ball. They acted like they’d just been forced to put their starting pitcher in at shortstop or their striker in at goaltender on a video game, as if the guy had a rating of 8 out of 100 in all the skills he needed to succeed in this wildly unfamiliar job.

That just shouldn’t be. And if that’s the case, that’s on the coaches. The backup has to be developed well and then trusted to perform within the team’s desired offense. Particularly when the starter has a history of getting sidelined in games, as Burmeister does.

Again, the receiver situation didn’t help. But developing depth at that position and scheming guys open is part of the coaching staff’s job, too. No passing grade in those areas on Friday night.

Given this grisly state of offensive affairs, it quickly became obvious that Tech’s best chance was to win this game with defense. The Hokies defenders played OK, but they didn’t make the disruption plays that were going to be necessary to steal this one.

They didn’t have any sacks. They didn’t force any fumbles. They had one interception — and promptly gave the ball back on a fumble, gifting BC the equivalent of a 22-yard completion. The Eagles turned that break into their first touchdown.

That wound up being all they would need.

But if you want to know what real resignation looks like, look no further than Fuente’s decision with about five minutes remaining. The Hokies faced a fourth and 6 from their own 25-yard line.

The chances of picking up a first down there, given the way their offense had played, wasn’t great. But Tech had only two timeouts remaining and trailed by two touchdowns. This felt like a desperate, pull-the-goalie situation where you’ve got to either make a play or lose the game trying.

Fuente punted.

“I just felt like we flip the field and get a stop and get the ball back,” he said.

They did flip the field. Punter Peter Moore got off a good one, a 55-yarder that was fair caught at the BC 20.

But the get-the-ball back part? That never happened. The Eagles ran the ball twice to snatch Tech’s timeouts. They ran the ball again to pick up a first down. And then they ran it four more times before the kneel-downs began.

No crazy last-second touchdown, no goal-line stand, no heartbreak. The Hokies have been all those places this season.

This, unfortunately, was something new. Something final.

Be the first to know

* I understand and agree that registration on or use of this site constitutes agreement to its user agreement and privacy policy.

Related to this story

Most Popular

Get up-to-the-minute news sent straight to your device.


Breaking News

Sports Breaking News

News Alert