Blacksburg, Va. – Fall camp got underway for some of our area college programs, but nothing is normal in 2020. Friday’s annual fall camp pressers were delivered on zoom, of course. Virginia Tech coach Justin Fuente spent much of the time explaining the laborious process of breaking down and studying practices from a year ago and coming up with just how much contact actually occurs on a daily basis. They analyzed in what drills, and in what circumstances that contact takes place. Then they began working on how to lower the risk of coronavirus spread, and with plenty of consultation with medical experts, drew up a plan. Coach Fuente explained that practice is a lot different now than it was last season.
“I know in my presentation with them today, I have pictures of what it looked like when we were doing a particular drill with the kids on the sidelines and of course they’re all standing shoe to show with each other -- last year. We’re gonna have to space those out, we even have spacers that we can slide in between them to keep the kids spaced out the best we can to try and mitigate that risk,” Fuente explained.
Fuente says the release of the ACC schedule helped his team and staff from a mental standpoint. To have something concrete to hang your hat on has helped the Hokies focus.
“”I sensed a little more energy and I don’t know if relief is the right word, but excitement or lower anxiety level with the fact that we actually knew there was a name on the schedule not just a date. To me that was the biggest thing, One--We only have time to get the kinks worked out, and two -- We’re just happy to have one(a schedule),” Fuente said.
The Flames hit the practice field Friday morning, ready to build on last season’s FBS breakthrough 8-5 season. 2019 included a Cure Bowl victory over Georgia Southern in Orlando, a first from the program. The Flames have three games scheduled with ACC opponents and 11 games overall, and after some shuffling and they aren’t set to open until they host North Carolina A & T on the second Saturday in September.
“Now the focus is on us but we do have some time I think it was a wise move for us to try and hold an opening not until September 12 to kind of just have a little extra time to get us ready and to kind of see what all comes with with this football season,” Liberty head football coach Hugh Freeze said.
The Flames will face NC State, Syracuse and Virginia Tech out of the ACC this season.
Meanwhile, UVA will open fall practice on Monday, a full month before they are scheduled to host VMI on Friday night, September 11th. The Cavaliers will then face the Hokies in the annual Commonwealth Clash, except it won’t be happening after Thanksgiving, but rather in week two of the season.
“You know playing the Virginia Tech game that early I think maybe gives a sense of hope and optimism to our state to the Commonwealth and maybe to college football. If there is to be a season we are going to play it, having some of those games early on I think was intentional to maybe add some momentum to the season, " Virginia head football coach Bronco Mendenhall said.