BLACKSBURG — Virginia Tech coach Justin Fuente won’t be calling the plays on Saturday.
Or any other Saturday from the sounds of it.
Fuente handed over play-calling duties to offensive coordinator Brad Cornelsen heading into the 2015 season when the two were at Memphis. Memphis finished the season with a top 20 offense, averaging 40.2 points per game and 486.9 yards per game.
Their early success continued in Blacksburg with the same setup behind a breakout year from junior college transfer Jerod Evans in 2016 and a promising freshman season from Josh Jackson the following year, but things have gone downhill in a hurry.
The Hokies have lost six of their last seven in the ACC going back to last season (four of those losses are by 20-plus points) and the offense is ranked No. 100 of 130 FBS teams through the first four weeks of the 2019 season.
The coaching staff is scrambling for answers in the wake of Friday night’s 45-10 loss to Duke — one of the worst offensive performances of Fuente’s tenure — but Fuente made it clear that Cornelsen will remain the team's play caller.
“That’s not what’s needed,” Fuente said. “We evaluate all those things. But I’m sure there are plenty of people out there that think they know the answers, and that’s their right. But being inside of it every single day, that’s not the answer.”
Fuente gave a similar vote of confidence in Cornelsen when he was asked about the team’s offensive play calling during last season’s four-game losing streak.
”Play-calling has nothing to do with it,” Fuente said last season. “...The guys calling the plays are the same guys that his very first year here set 10 school records. He still knows what he’s doing.”
Fuente revealed little else about the changes he's considering ahead of the team's game against Miami outside of a possible quarterback change.
“I mean, there’s a lot of them,” Fuente said. “We’ve got to find a way to play a more efficient game. And it’s really collectively as a football team. You look at that game last week and in no area were we consistent, were we able to execute on a consistent basis in any of the three phases. And that’s very disappointing and it’s my responsibility 100 percent.”
Fans hoping for drastic action after Tech’s worst home loss in four-plus decades could be disappointed. Fuente's main focus remains getting more consistency in all three phases.
“Well, you can’t,” Fuente said. “I mean, you can’t wholesale. It just doesn’t work that way. You’ve got to continue to improve, and work on and focus on technique. Surely, you can tweak things. Absolutely, but I mean, you can’t – it just doesn’t work that way.”