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Virginia Tech Hokies head coach Justin Fuente talks to quarterback Quincy Patterson in the second half against the Notre Dame Fighting Irish at Notre Dame Stadium in South Bend, Indiana.

SOUTH BEND, Ind. — Virginia Tech coach Justin Fuente spoke candidly about his team’s quarterback situation on Saturday night.

Fuente made the decision late in the week to start redshirt freshman Quincy Patterson against Notre Dame over Hendon Hooker, but the decision wasn’t an easy one.

Hooker suffered a left leg injury against North Carolina, but had a bye week to recover. While the coaching staff limited Hooker’s reps, he practiced throughout the week and didn’t suffer any physical setbacks that would have prevented him from playing.

The third-year sophomore reignited Virginia Tech’s offense when he replaced Ryan Willis after a lopsided loss to Duke on Sept. 27. Tech’s offense has averaged 39.6 points and more than 430 yards per game and is 3-0 with Hooker starting.

Hooker has thrown for 580 yards this season (57.4% passing) with seven touchdowns and no interceptions. He’s run the ball 48 times for 156 yards with a touchdown.

As tempting as it was to insert Hooker back into the lineup, Fuente thought it was in Hooker’s “best interests” to sit for another week.

“He did practice all week and looked better and better every day,” Fuente said. “I couldn’t come to grips with putting a kid out there that’s played in two and a half games without the full complement of preparation time. If he’d been playing for two and a half years, I probably would have felt differently.”

Fuente added that he wasn’t trying to “mislead” anyone with his optimistic updates on Hooker’s status early in the week. Hooker echoed those sentiments when he said “I’m ready to go” on Tuesday.

Hooker still travelled to South Bend and even went through the full set of pregame warmups with his teammates and didn’t have any noticeable issues moving around running drills.

“Bottom line was I couldn’t pull the trigger on playing him, I just couldn’t,” Fuente said.

Mike Niziolek is the Virginia Tech football beat writer for The Roanoke Times. Follow him on Facebook and Twitter.

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