BLACKSBURG - Virginia Tech coach Justin Fuente’s view of opening the season against a conference foe differs from his players.
Player after player stepped up to the podium during the team’s annual media on Sunday expressing excitement over the team’s upcoming match-up in Tallahassee against No. 19 Florida State.
“There’s no better way than to open up at Florida State, at their place,” defensive tackle Ricky Walker said. “Playing on the road is a little different. It’s more special. So that’s pretty much it.”
According to tight end Dalton Keene, the high-profile showdown has made fall camp “super intense.” The young Virginia Tech team knows it won’t be able to ease into things.
“I can’t wait, and I know the rest of the guys can’t wait to get after someone else,” Keene said.
While Fuente is eager to start the 2018 season, he would prefer if it wasn’t against a conference opponent.
“I would say this - it would not be my first choice, quite honestly, but I’m not going to pout about it,” Fuente said.
Fuente anticipates high-profile ACC openers becoming more commonplace with the league’s new network launching in August 2019. Virginia Tech is 2-0 in previous openers against ACC opponents. The Hokies last opened against an ACC opponent was in 2012, a game they won 20-17 in overtime over Georgia Tech.
“I understand the things we will need to do to continue to build up network and I understand some of the requirements that come with,” Fuente said. “No, if I was picking, I would probably not choose that. I also kind of get it and kind of understand why there may be in the future some more early season conference games.”
Fuente is 2-0 in season-openers with Virginia Tech and 4-2 overall as a head coach.
While Virginia Tech is no stranger to tough season-opening opponents - the team has played preseason top five teams in five of the last nine years - this is the first time in school history the team is opening the year with a ranked conference opponent.