BLACKSBURG—Virginia Tech coach Justin Fuente left himself some wiggle room this week in naming a starting quarterback for Saturday’s game against Wake Forest.
Fuente said Monday during his media availability that it’s too soon to tell whether Hendon Hooker will be back in the huddle or if Quincy Patterson will make his second straight start.
“We’ll see,” Fuente said. “I stepped out there twice so far this year on the injury deal and been wrong on both of them—with Damon Hazelton and Hendon—so I don’t know. We’ll see. If he practices all week and does well, then Hendon will be the starter. I don’t know if that’s going to happen or not.”
Hooker suffered a left leg injury in the first half of a win over North Carolina before the Hokies’ second bye week of the season. He improved physically each day and made it through the week of practice without any issues.
Fuente was optimistic about Hooker’s chances starting against Notre Dame until he had a change of heart at midweek and ended up giving the nod to Patterson.
While the offense struggled—Tech ended up with 235 yards of offense (3.7 yards per play) and had six three-and-outs in the first half—Fuente was pleased with how Patterson “didn’t get rattled” in a contest that came down to the final seconds. Patterson was nine of 28 for 139 yards with a touchdown and interception. He also had 19 carries for 77 yards.
After the game, Fuente said he wasn’t trying to “mislead” anyone about his quarterback situation leading up to the game, but acknowledged it might have looked that way based on his comments and those made by Hooker when he told reporters that he was “ready to go” for the showdown in South Bend.
“Bottom line was I couldn’t pull the trigger on playing him, I just couldn’t,” Fuente said of Hooker starting.
Hokie fans are eager to see Hooker back in the lineup, considering the way the third-year sophomore got the offense into gear after replacing Ryan Willis. Hooker is 3–0 as a starter with the offense averaging 39.6 points and 430-plus yards. He has thrown for 580 yards this season (57.4% passing) with seven touchdowns and no interceptions. He has also run the ball 48 times for 156 yards with a touchdown.
Pat on the back
Virginia Tech linebacker Rayshard Ashby and safety Divine Deablo were recognized by the ACC this week for their standout efforts in a 21–20 loss to Notre Dame.
Ashby was named ACC linebacker of the week for the fourth time this season. The linebacker had a team-high 13 tackles (11 solo) with three tackles for loss and a forced fumble. It was the sixth time this season he has led the Hokies in tackles.
The linebacker has 85 tackles this season with 13 for a loss, three sacks and two quarterback hurries.
Deablo, who was named the ACC’s defensive back of the week, recovered the fumble Ashby forced and ran it back 98 yards for his first career touchdown. The score tied the game 14–14 right before halftime. The fourth-year junior also came up with an interception in the end zone and had five tackles.
The wide receiver turned safety has 48 tackles this season with two passes defensed and a forced fumble.
“It felt like a dream come true, honestly,” Deablo said after the game. “It’s something you dream about as a kid. Even the play where I got the ball on the fumble, it didn’t feel real at the time.”