Head coach Justin Fuente confirmed at Monday’s press conference that starting defensive end Houshun Gaines and backup defensive tackle Xavier Burke with both miss the rest of the 2018 season due to injury.
Fuente confirms that House Gaines is out for the year with his knee injury. #Hokies
— Henry Skutt (@henryskutt) November 12, 2018
Fuente says DL Xavier Burke is out for the season. Also mentions how injuries have plagued the team all season, even before the season with injuries like Jeremy Webb. #Hokies
— David Cunningham (@therealdcunna) November 12, 2018
Burke suffered and Achilles injury against BC while Gaines suffered a knee injury against Pittsburgh on Saturday.
While Fuente did not officially confirm the extent of Gaines’ injury, reports have suggested that Gaines tore his ACL.
#Hokies DE Houshun Gaines has a torn ACL and will miss the remainder of the season per Bud Foster.
— Jordan Hutchinson (@JHutchinsonVT) November 11, 2018
That caps off an incredibly difficult season for the junior that began with the loss of his mother. No one should ever have to go through that, and our thoughts and prayers here at The Tech Lunch Pail are with Gaines and his family.
As far as on the field implications, the Hokies have suffered extreme attrition on the defensive line this year. DE Trevon Hill was dismissed from the team, DT Jarrod Hewitt and DE Emmanuel Belmar have both missed time, and DT Vinny Mihota has been limited all season, just to name a few.
In addition, Gaines was one of the Hokies’ most experienced and talented players on the line. He led the team this season with 4.5 sacks. In addition to that, Gaines tallied 22 total tackles, 5 tackles for loss, and two force fumbles this year. He had become a leader on a team full of younger players. That will be hard to replace.
While Burke was not quite as experienced, he was a key backup who was in line for more time at defensive tackle due to other injuries. He totaled 7 tackles and 0.5 sacks in 5 appearances this season.
Despite all the attrition, Fuente did not use the injuries as an excuse for Saturday’s performance. That was a refreshing change from some of his previous comments.
The head coach also remained optimistic about the Hokies defensive line play going forward.
“We still have some depth [at DL],” said Fuente. “The key is getting Emmanuel [Belmar] and Jarrod [Hewitt] back.” Fuente also mentioned that the Hokies “hope to get Jarrod back this week”, as he has missed the past two games with injury, but that’s not a guarantee.
The good news for the Hokies is that Miami does not have anywhere near as dangerous a rushing attack as their last two opponents. Virginia Tech will look to reverse their fate this weekend despite these injuries.