Justin Fuente delivered quite the early Christmas present on Saturday night, ensuring a joyous holiday season for all Hokies.
Fuente, his staff and most importantly, his players, engineered a 33-15 win over Virginia that eased the minds of Hokies across the country, even if for only a little while. Saturday night’s win was a thoughtful and meaningful present, even if it possibly ends up being Fuente’s last to the fan base.
Virginia fans have been full of themselves since last year’s win snapped a 15-game winning streak by the Hokies. A second consecutive win over the Hokies would have emboldened the ‘Hoos even further, and their fanbase would’ve fully bought in to the notion that Virginia had caught up to Virginia Tech as a football program. Bronco Mendenhall has elevated the ‘Hoos from the Mike London doldrums and after the 2019 win, but Mendenhall had UVA fans believing Virginia had drawn even, or perhaps even surpassed Virginia Tech in football.
A well-prepared Virginia Tech team successfully bottled-up Brennan Armstrong, who has proven to be a true dual-threat quarterback. He turned in an uneven performance, throwing two interceptions along with two touchdowns. He completed just 54.3 percent of his throws and only rushed for 50 yards, excluding sacks. He was also sacked four times.
Defensively, Virginia allowed a sluggish and reeling Tech offense to amass 252 yards on the ground. Khalil Herbert returned to form, rushing for 162 yards and a touchdown. Braxton Burmeister put together a respectable performance, completing more than 68 percent of his passes, throwing a touchdown and avoiding turnovers.
The Hokies played one of their best games of the season, just in time for the game they had circled on the calendar from the get-go. Virginia, on the other hand, fell flat on their face. And their performance exposed the problems Virginia is facing that Bryce Perkins previously covered up.
Mendenhall’s dream of dethroning Virginia Tech might’ve ended with Perkins’ departure. His ‘Hoos were 17-10 with Perkins on the roster, but they are just 13-22 without him. Once Mendenhall encountered Fuente without his star quarterback, Mendenhall lost yet again. Fuente is now 4-1 vs. Mendenhall since the two arrived in the ACC.
Saturday’s win might very well mean nothing when it comes to Fuente’s job status. Director of athletics Whit Babcock is expected to meet with Fuente this week and we should have a resolution then. But Saturday’s win meant a lot about the state of both Virginia Tech and Virginia.
Tech is in the process of bottoming out. The Hokies are presently 5-6, which could end up being their second losing season in three years. Virginia is supposedly on the rise, finishing their 2020 season at 5-5. Who knew that #HoosRising meant a .500 record and another loss to Virginia Tech. Yikes.
This offseason figures to decide the future of Virginia Tech football. Whether Fuente is the man leading the way or not, Virginia Tech fans can be thankful for this gift. Fuente quieted the Cavs crowd, who spent 379 days rubbing in their 2019 win.
Saturday night, order in the Commonwealth was restored.
For that, all Hokie fan can rejoice.