BLACKSBURG — Virginia Tech’s second off week of the 2019 season couldn’t come at a better time.
The Hokies are coming off a 43-41 six overtime win over North Carolina that featured 170 plays, which was 28 more plays than the average this season and the second most in coach Justin Fuente’s tenure (Tech and Syracuse combined for 172 plays in 2016).
Fuente gave players Sunday and Monday off to recuperate.
“We’ll take into consideration in making our schedule for this week,” Fuente said. “It was a taxing ballgame. There’s no question about that.”
Injuries are piling up for the Hokies as well.
Starting quarterback Hendon Hooker went down with a left leg injury against North Carolina that sidelined him for the entire second half. Starting defensive back Caleb Farley didn’t return to the game after taking a hit to head when Dazz Newsome scored with 6:29 left in the second quarter.
Whip linebacker Chamarri Conner suffered an undisclosed injury late in the game and didn’t play in overtime while right guard Lecitus Smith, running back Keshawn King and defensive tackle Deshawn Crawford were held out entirely.
Fuente didn’t provide many injury updates on Monday other than to reiterate he didn’t expect Hooker or Farley to miss extended time.
“It’s kind of like your last gasp for a big breath of air before you go underwater for a while here and we’ve got to do a great job serving two masters: one, getting some guys that have a lot of mileage on them back feeling good and getting some other guys ready for the stretch run,” Fuente said.
But Fuente doesn’t want to go too easy on the team either and lose the sense of urgency players have shown in recent weeks.
Tech’s recent performances coming out of bye weeks are also a concern. Fuente was 2-0 after bye weeks in his first two seasons with a pair of wins over North Carolina by a combined score of 93-10.
The results since 2017 after off weeks haven’t been pretty with the Hokies going 0-3 in losses to Old Dominion, Georgia Tech and Duke. They were outscored 143-73 in those contests with the defense giving up an 506 yards a game.
“There’s always work to be done,” Fuente said. “...Sometimes it’s harder, especially for younger players, to turn the page after having success. And we’ve got to learn from the mistakes that are made. We should never gloss over them just because we got the result we wanted and learn and teach off of those so we can continue to improve.”