Virginia Tech coach Justin Fuente had his team fighting hard to keep the game close, but the Hokies ultimately lost their first game of the 2017 season, falling 31-17 to Clemson on Saturday night.
The Hokies were within seven of the Tigers with about 3 minutes left in the second quarter, but Clemson scored a touchdown and Virginia Tech missed a field goal to end the half. Then to open the third quarter, the Tigers cashed in a Hokies turnover for a touchdown.
After a big punt return late in the third quarter, Virginia Tech made it a 2-score game again, but trying to push the ball downfield in the fourth quarter, the Hokies threw 2 interceptions. One of two picks was returned for a touchdown.
Here’s what Fuente had to say after the game:
Opening statement: “I want to commend the Hokie Nation. I’m sorry. I wish we could have played better. We played a really good opponent today that highlighted some mistakes really quickly. I thought the show that the Hokie Nation put on was absolutely fantastic. The festivities earlier today and the crowd, it was everything you could ever want and more. Sorry that we couldn’t find a way to get it done. Clemson is a fine football team. Coach Swinney has done a great job there. I don’t see any weaknesses right now coming off the field from playing them. I do love the way our guys battled. I thought we were competitive, I thought our guys were competitive. It wasn’t always pretty but the guys out there in maroon and orange were competing their tails off but we weren’t good enough today. Our challenge is next week.”
On how much Clemson’s defensive front forced them to use screens and draws and how did Virginia Tech try to counteract that: “They played us different than they’ve played before. They’re usually an attacking defense and they did not do that today. They played more 50 defense, used more techniques than they’ve ever shown, dropping more guys. Yeah we knew that we had to get the ball out quick, use some misdirection that kind of stuff. We knew it was going to be difficult no matter what they did. Part of the plan was getting the ball out of Josh’s hands quickly.”
On facing the No. 1 or No. 2 team in the country providing a barometer for his team and whether he likes having the chance to play a team like that early in the season: “Well, I hadn’t really thought about where it fell in the season too much. I like playing good people, I can tell you that much and I thought we played a pretty good opponent right out of the box. We’ll see. The season will tell how good everybody is. Each week is kind of its own individual entity, but I enjoy playing the best and our guys do too. I didn’t feel nervous or anxious to play I thought we were ready to compete.”
On if he looks back to those miscues in the third quarter and kicks himself: “There’s a lot of things I kick myself about. We get a stop and then we fumble. We had great field position then we fumble on the second play if I’m not mistaken. Great field position, crowds into it, that’s a really tough pill to swallow right there. Kind of forced our hand right there to start going for it. I just didn’t think kicking long field goals was going to win us the game to be honest with you.”
On if there was a feeling out process against the Clemson defense: “I don’t know, I think they did some things differently. They made a concerted effort to keep the ball in front of them. I felt like they were going to play a different style of defense than they had.”
Virginia Tech misses opportunity to inch closer to Clemson