Tech Thoughts: …the Fu’-view! (part I)

Virginia Tech football head coach Justin Fuente was interviewed recently by someone who asks some unalike questions. With: “so, who did you say would be your back-up quarterback next year” perhaps being the best among them.


This humble scribe wishing to report more than just: the whispers say that LT3 is said to be tall and this just in… rain is rumored to be, wet. Yah-yah; no kidding and I know somebody who knows somebody who has some oceanfront East Dakota property —if any of you are interested in that. As try as the traditional brick-n-mortar sports media might… the player(s) and/or the game always writes its very own narrative. Mytharc invention need not apply when Coach Foster is still right… as it might just help to have actually worn a jock before you engage in keyboard-Qb social-media first mover wind-sprints. And that’s what this interview was all about, two ex-jocks with one ex-Qb turned mega hot commodity big whistle and one ex-Fl turned outside-the-box sees things others don’t O&M differentiator. So coach God willing this was not your typical interview… although it sure helped that one of the host(s) made sure that both parties knew that the other has actually suffered this terminal contact sport that they both sat down to cover.  So read on to find out what the differentiator was told by none other than coach-Fu’ himself… as there is a common ground brotherhood among those wearing forlorn sporting scars which are authentic old-school prose for modern-day cosmetic tattoos; except that scars have irrefutable stories to tell…

Justin James Fuente (born July 30, 1976 A.D.) Age=4o.


Fuente was the head football coach at the University of Memphis from 2012 to 2015. He was an assistant at Texas Christian University (T.C.U.) from 2007 to 2011 and at Illinois State University from 2001 to 2006. Fuente attended the University of Oklahoma before transferring to Murray State University after his redshirt sophomore season. He played Qb for both schools. Fuente played a single season with the Oklahoma Wranglers of the Arena Football League before embarking on his coaching career.

Then Qb-Fu’ amassed 2,289 yards passing with the 1995-1996 Oklahoma Sooners starting parts of two seasons before transferring to Murray State. At Murray State, Fuente was named the Ohio Valley Conference Offensive Player of the Year and a finalist for the Walter Payton Award following the 1999 season. He still holds several single-season records at Murray State for a Qb including: most pass completions (24o), highest passing efficiency rating (151.21), most seasonal passing yards (3,497), and most touchdown passes (27) in a year. WOW!

The Family Fu’!

36-27 overall, 10-4 at Virginia Tech, 2-o in Bowls.

A.P. 2016 A.c.c. Coach of the Year,
ACSMA A.c.c. Coach of the Year (2016),
Athlon Ac.c. Coach of the Year (2016).

Coach-Fu’ started out under Coach Denver Johnson at Illinois State, who he had played for when Johnson was an assistant coach at Oklahoma; and later on again when Denver was named the head coach at Murray State (…and now you and Paul Harvey “know the rest of the, story”). Coach-Fu also studied under legendary T.c.u. defensive wizard Gary Patterson in Forth Worth. Coach-Fu’ has coached football for sixteen seasons in total.

Coaching Tree:
Barry Odom: Missouri (2016–present)

Personal Life:
Coach-Fu’ is married, to Jenny and they have three daughters: Charlotte, Cecilia & Caroline.

N.F.L. leadership, 1o1.

Here is the one latent or expiring tidbit from the whole shebang… when asked about the (then) upcoming 2017 A.D. N.f.l. Draft… coach-Fu said to “watch out for Clark” and guess which Hokie was picked ahead of all other Hokies –including the much more highly touted pass-catchers? Splash one boggy for Coach-Fu. Though he did go on to add that he felt Ford would be something of a steal for whoever got him. Huge on Sam. Very, as in so huge on Sam that Sam merits his very on section in part II; coach God willing. The Fu’ had precious little to say regarding anyone else in professional terms and after a while with coach-Fu’ it became apparent to me that his omissions speak, volumes. File that one away for future evaluative use!

(so with that shelf-life item outta the way here is what coach-Fu had to say about this years team, coaches, and a couple of past-tense players and one current coach in extra particular)

(m.s. mid-script… the reader should observe as well that coach-Fu gives two types of answers: short, shorter, shortest answers; whereby disclosure just ain’t happening. Or elongated, fulsome and/or almost tangential answers; its coach-Fu’s ballpark and when you are in it you are umpired by coach-Fu’s rules)

When asked about how this team was “working”, literally, in terms of efforting or industrialization itself, coach-Fu’ was effusive in his praise of 2017 work-ethos thus far. He even went so far as to point out that most spring practices you have one or two off-days effort wise. Kids are human and some kids are more human than others, however; he said that that had not been the case this past spring. He even went so far as to say that this years 2017 football team had run a perfect 15 of 15 gauntlet in terms of meeting his expectations elbow-grease and sweat of the brow wise. I’ll say it again, he (coach-Fu’) went out of his way here to make this point as this was not a question I drew. So either this team really likes and is exceptionally motivated by this Staff, or they have found a few Sam and Jerod replacement leaders {readers note:  more on that later}, or both! Though either way, this is a very very encouraging 2017 sign indeed. As half past when was the last time you had to tell a co-worker, a student or a baller that they were trying too hard? Yah; Roger that, me neither…

Accordingly, when asked about current Strength and Conditioning Coach Ben Hilgart coach-Fu’ raved! Almost to the point that you had to wonder if he (coach-Fu’) might name his first born-son Ben (or even Sam (Rodgers))? As coach-Fu is super duper big on what S&C Coach Hilgirth brings to the team and you should be too! And not just in terms of modernization of our former 1980’s and 1990’s ‘esque S&C and nutritional ways and means. And not just in terms of having done the most on-field running (i.e. the conditioning part in S&C) since the 1950’s and Miles Stadium, coach-Fu’ was as happy as a clam in mud when it comes to the cultural or gridiron societal effects big-Ben had successfully infected the gridiron side of Jamerson Athletic Center with. As he (coach-Fu’) emphasized that he is not allowed contact with the team during certain voluntary, i.e. mandatory if you really wanna actually play parts of the year; although coach Hilgart is allowed contact. Accordingly, it is coach-Ben who sees, monitors, and coaches from a clinical sporting hygiene point-of-view all year round. Coach-Fu was very big with regard to the applied-sports psych’ side of instilling your pet mantra -in this case: #HardSmartTough- which is now a 25/8, 366 year round operation; and he feels that a surgery of football mentality itself is best performed at the most basic level. Such is the pure cerebral caloric burn of S&C which basically never stops in the modern gridiron era. Therefore, the S&C program itself is where you best ingrain or inculcate the macro’ sporting culture that you strategically desire.

Now recall as well, that big-Ben and coach-Fu’ had zero history together prior to Virginia Tech. This was not part of any spoils or good-old-boy system as human resource management or hiring goes. It was due diligence on coach-Fu’s part, though if you ask me, heading to Vegas with coach-Fu’ right after the Hilgart hire would have probably been a rather lucrative thing. And as someone who sees Providence when others see coincidence, you are truly want to find a better synonym here in lieu of: “lucked” out regarding the Hilgart hire. And I don’t even believe in luck itself. Nonetheless, coach-Fu’ sure his this S&C hire outta the O&M park; three cherries straight across and again; coach-Fu’ went rather far outta his way to bestow any and all praise on S&C Coach Ben Hilgart for the seemingly overnight changes that Ben made in what had become a marginally successful team with a rather stale football hygiene by-the-bye. If you ask coach-Fu’ -and I did- he says the credit for the motivational high-octane turnaround is all Ben’s. 1,000%.

(Or in other words, whatever we are paying big-Ben? It ain’t too much as someone else may come a S&C calling at $ome point in time; as this Hilgirth guy is good, he’s very very good and he might just be best of all at S&C ballers right between the, …ears)

As this was more/less where during the interview that coach-Fu’ dropped this little gem: his modus operandi itself is… preparation. His mode of operation is preparation, that’s a lyrical keeper and if you had not figured it out by now, this is serially a work-out, film-study, practice based coach. You practice how you play so you’d better practice pretty damn hard if you want the payoff of having the aforementioned S&C advantages during the championship rounds or late in the 4th Q. If you don’t believe me here just ask @Pitt and @Notre Dame how that one tastes. When no better than level teams talent wise found out who wanted it more and who dug deep, anted up and kicked in when the chips got big-n-blue. Or as A River Runs Through It author Normal Maclean once so aptly put it… “the body fuels the mind.” And such is the meta-physical rapture of coach-Fu’.


Speaking of coaches… the alpha reason that Virginia Tech football got coach-Fu’ might just be none other than the alpha-defensive coordinator himself; cue, one Bud Foster. As coach-Fu’ literally did say that coaching alongside Bud Foster “was a huge draw to taking the job”. Coach-Fu thought that highly of Bud Foster, prior-tense to his arrival down in the New River Valley of Blacksburg, Va.

To take that one a step further, someone asked him (coach-Fu’) to compare and contrast his previous association as an assistant coach himself to Texas Christian’s legendary stop-unit mind or one Head Coach Gary Patterson with that of his current association with the likewise legendary Bud Foster. This was one of the very few times during the Q&A portion that coach-Fu’ paused at all … as you could see the mental gears turning before he responded with the following…

Foster on TAP!

How they are most alike:

  • Without elaborating too much -or giving away any true X’s and O’s tradecraft secrets- coach-Fu’s first answer was: schematically. As both use or have used an attacking defensive set that looks to inflict turnovers, hits/punishment, and truly dial-up the heat when favorable defensive situations arise as remaining down-n-distance supports. Both rely heavily on lottsa one-on-one coverage tilts from each side (Boundary or Field, or merely L or R) from their Cb’s. Both try to make opponents uno-dimensional via stopping the run, first and then forcing your to throw into exotics in their hind-4, nickel or dime.
  • Coach-Fu’ said that both were excellent pure teachers. Kinda like the handful of professors or teachers we all valued the most coming up. As there is difference if not a gap between a research-professor who has little time for class and one who loves to actively teach (the verb). And do beware, the pure education of his two ILb positions, or whatever else needs tutoring on defense in a day-to-day practice field setting is not something coach Bud gets a ton of run for; much less enough credit. Although when you compare anyone to the teaching capabilities of one Gary Patterson in the first place (sporting pun intended)… yah; sign me up for that five hour class, even at 8AM.
  • This next one was one of coach-Fu’s signature brevity type answers so I won’t forge any real elaboration here, as coach-Fu’ did not offer any when pressed to do so. Though he did say that Foster and Patterson were highly similar in terms of providing and/or creating: “motivation” itself. When pressed he described said motivational similarities coach-Fu selected: “they are hard and different” and methinks that says enough in social-enlightenment P.C. terms right there.
  • The final similarity coach-Fu’ volunteered between the two was that… they both know how to fix things when things break. A.K.A. in-game sideline tweaks or outright halftime lockeroom adjustments. And in case you did not know it, that’s a big ole XL sized condor feather in each of these two epic defensive minds’ cap. Enter the Arkansas Bowl game for immediate example. As one got the feel that although this is indeed coach-Fu’s team; this is Coach Foster’s defensive show; i.e. hands off. That’s what I call confidential trust folks, as coach-Fu basically did come up under the only other collegiate Bud Foster out at T.c.u. So you’d have to think coach Fuente knows a thing or three about halt-units if pressed and/or when needed. And if nothing else, coach-Fu’ really seemed to enjoy this retroactive question in lieu of the same ole same ole of… who is gonna be your starting Qb this year?

Though with that being said, someone did sneak this gem in: “Who is going to be your back-up Qb next year?” To smiles all around and even a smile and a laugh from coach-Fu’ himself. As he is not so much adversarial towards the fourth-estate as he is truncated or at least well scaled or measured towards the media. As coach-Fu’ can go steely eyed on you in the blink of the same if he did not enjoy your question; every bit as much as he tells you precisely and entirely what he wants you to print. Making the oikonomia that is coach-Fu’ very very very economical in his words and exactingly precise in his dissemination of the same.

Which is not to go so far as to say that coach-Fu’ is a tough interview; it is however to say that he is an A-game interview. As you’d better mentally buckle-up and make sure you Hilgirth on your very own head before engaging his A-game in the same.

Stay tuned for Part II and maybe even a Part III next time, with Fu’s thought’s on Frank Beamer, Sam (Rodgers), and yes, his 2017 O&M Qb derby and much more. Coach God willing…

Tell the truth here as you best see it... coach-Fu is best at, what?

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Virginia Tech=Blessed to have Coach-Fu!!!




May St.Justin Bless!

20 Responses You are logged in as Test

  1. test, test test”… is this microphone on?

    Can you guys see this reply?

    thank you,

  2. Coach Fu and Buzz are very different head coaches than past VT coaches as they both do not share much concerning their teams which is not great for us the fans but if it works so be it.I feel for all reporters as your job is crazy hard!!

    1. They are, different. No doubt about it.

      Though you know what? I can take that as a challenge; too…
      Why not try to synthesize new/other type questions?

      Who is gonna be your starting Qb this year?

      Think he’s already worn-out dead-tired of that one?
      You think?

      So I literally sat there in the Long John Silvers, Praying a bit, and thinking how to ask what I wanted to know in a new way. Spent ~20 mins. trying to warm/limber my mind up to make straight-A’s as the interview itself went. This was my off-season writing Super Bowl. So why would I show up and put in a pre-season effort? That’s not enough. A 3.o or B average is not enough. (methinks The Fu’ agrees here, there is a perfectionist type total quantum detailing manta to his game)

      And to be FAIR………………….Will, Chris and Rick’s would hate me as coach Frederick. LOL.
      I’d give ’em even less than Buzz divided by the Fu’.
      So I do understand their mindset, here.


      1. Why would we think he has chosen a starting QB yet?

        He has 3 candidates, 2 of which haven’t played a college game yet.

        He has a senior transfer 4 star WR who may have just arrived, and Cam Phillips as possibly his best receivers. Potential starting QB has not had a chance to practice with Clark and little time to break in a lot of new receivers.

        I say give it some time and August practice, plus don’t give our first game opponents any info to study.

        1. Not saying he has a game no.1 starter; yet.
          As there is not enough separation (yet) to be sure.

          Though in part II I do plan on saying which way my analysis of what Fu’ said(s) hints that he may currently or post-spring practice actually be leaning. Coach God wiling…


      2. Some questions:
        1) What are the key QB performance skill parameters you will use this year in selecting the starting QB this coming season?
        2) What offensive sets do you think each (or any?) of this season’s opponents will expect from VT?
        3) Will the likelihood of a very strong VT Defense this season have any/much affect on your Offensive strategies and game plans?
        4) If you are fortunate to get a large lead in a game, at what point would you begin resting (some of?) the starters and let others get gametime experience?
        Go get ’em B’street! 😆

        1. Well thanks Bruin.

          2) I like quite a bit.
          4) is a great one @Foster.


  3. Insightful and one of your best articles. Thanks and looking forward to the next installment

    1. Well thank you HokieR!

      However, Coach-Fu’ being so different is what made it sing.

      Even if you have to study a bit; it sure was fun taking his test.


  4. Mochas Gracias for the dash of flavour into The Coach Fuente tick rock. Rumors trickled out about his emphasis on details…but your Part Uno provided a delightful waft of anticipation, much like the smell of fresh baking bread when entering Grandma’s house as a child’s excitement on Christmas morning that something good is about to happen!!!!

    S&C Chief in Thought & Sweat Commander: Hilgart insights speak volumes for the emphasis on physical and mental upgrades. Can’t wait to see impact this has in recruiting.

    Fantastic, can’t wait for Part Dos.

  5. Hope someone asks a tougher question surrounding our recruiting misses on OL. A more connected person than me believe that if Fuente and crew can’t start scoring with Virginia’s best, he won’t have longevity. My own opinion is that OL coaching is a weak point and OL recruiting may be challenged because of it.

    1. Do the names Hunter, Rivers, or Garbutt ring any bells for you or your connected friend…

    2. R U KIDDIN ME 94Bird? “He wont have longevity”…your connected friend believes? WOW…

      10-4 1st yr and was a few plays from dropping Clemson in the ACC Champ game.

      Give me great players from ANYWHERE that want to be HERE – ANY DAY.
      Regardless of connectedness… 🙂

      Go HOKIES!

      1. Not sure what you’re talking about. I didn’t say a 10-win season wasn’t great. I’m looking at (a) our OL coaching, which teaches a ‘chop-step & bench press’ technique that’s not great and lacks ability to powerfully direct the guys on the other side of the ball, and (b) what may be a resultant lack of ability to score with OL types in VA

        Wiggins and Foster are bringing it solid. Fuente is closing. We are exploiting NC like we never did while Beamer was coaching.

        But that OL…

  6. I would’ve chosen ‘all of the above’ if you’d included that in your poll. smh

    Great article! Looking forward to part 2!

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