Virginia Tech head coach Justin Fuente has not been able to beat Georgia Tech in his first two years in Blacksburg. This week is the perfect time to get that first win as the Hokies are at the top of a chaotic ACC Coastal race coming off their bye week.The Hokies have struggled in recent games, leaving this week's matchup as a bit of a question mark on the schedule. Fuente has been impressed with the way the team has been fighting, though, especially in the 22-19 win over North Carolina two weeks ago. “I like the way we persevered last week,” Fuente said. “I think there is a genuine desire to improve. We are going to have to stick together. The next five weeks will be difficult.” The last of those comments will ring true when Virginia Tech hosts Georgia Tech Thursday night in Blacksburg. The Yellow Jackets have given the team trouble in recent seasons, beating the Hokies in 2016 and 2017. Georgia Tech always presents a challenge due to its triple option offense, but Fuente feels like the team has taken the right steps of preparation. “I think our young coaches and scout team has done a really good job of that so far,” Fuente said. “That’s part of the challenge and part of it is not just simulating the play but simulating the speed in which they execute it.” That quick offense that Georgia Tech possesses has been the main reason Virginia Tech has been unable to get a win in the past two seasons. In 2016, the Yellow Jackets led 20-0 at halftime. Georgia Tech had two players rush for over 100 yards in the game, which they eventually won 30-20. The 2017 matchup wasn’t much different. Georgia Tech was able to score a touchdown in every quarter last season. Once again, the GT running game was the Hokies’ kryptonite, as this time three players rushed for 80 or more yards while Georgia Tech won the game 28-22. Having played two games against Georgia Tech, Fuente knows what to expect now as he faces them for the third time. “Obviously on the defensive side of the ball, you’re defending something that is far different schematically that tests your discipline level,” Fuente said. “Paul (Johnson) has been doing it for a long time so he has answers. He knows exactly what to fix or what to do next in the order of operations.” Defensive line coach Charley Wiles also has a better idea of how to handle the Yellow Jackets this time around, saying that they way Georgia Tech approaches the game has not changed. “It’s so difficult to simulate the speed of the GT offense. Our offensive scout team has done a very good job,” Wiles said. “You need a good defensive tackle game in this game.” Speaking of defensive tackles, Wiles said that senior Vinny Mihota is starting to look like himself again and that he isn’t worried about his knee in this week’s game. Coming off of a bye week before playing an offense as tough as Georgia Tech gave the Hokies plenty of time to get ready, and Wiles thinks that will be key as the Lunch Pail D tries to slow down the Yellow Jackets. “It was good we had a few extra days to prep,” Wiles said. “I’m really pleased how our scout team has bought in.” That preparation will be tested tomorrow night when the Hokies look to slow down the Yellow Jackets' triple option offense and get to 4-0 in the ACC. Note: Virginia Tech will kick off against Georgia Tech at 7:30 p.m. on Thursday in Lane Stadium. The game will be broadcast on ESPN.
Virginia Tech Coaches Prepare for Challenge of Georgia Tech
Matthew Atkins | @mattkins21TLP: Writer