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VT, UVA prepare for openers next week

When positive cases and quarantine engulfed the Hokies roster last week, it would have been easy to assign blame in Blacksburg. But Justin Fuente thinks his team’s predicament was just a result of the current campus environment.
Published: Sep. 19, 2020 at 3:00 PM EDT
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(WDBJ7)-- This crazy year of 2020 has already had plenty of twists and turns for the Hokies and Hoos who were supposed to play Saturday in Blacksburg. Instead, the Hokies will try to play their third scheduled opener of the season next week against NC State while the Cavaliers are scheduled to play Duke, their fourth scheduled season opening opponent.

It’s all part of the new COVID reality that every coach in the country is dealing with.

“It’s on our minds and weighs on us, 24 hours a day, 7 days a week,” said Virginia Tech Head Coach Justin Fuente.

When positive cases and quarantine engulfed the Hokies roster last week, it would have been easy to assign blame in Blacksburg. But Justin Fuente thinks his team’s predicament was just a result of the current campus environment. The Hokies returned to practice Wednesday and hopefully, the issue will be remedied in time for them to actually play the Pack next Saturday.

“They’re all here because they want to do this. Practicing is not fun and that’s all they’ve done. They desperately do want to play. It’s an unprecedented, difficult situation that we are all dealing with.”

Manging the mental aspect of a COVID world has been a significant challenge for all college coaches, including Fuente and Virginia’s Bronco Mendenhall. Both have added plenty to their already full plates.

“The mental health of our student-athletes has risen right to the forefront of the things that I am managing on a daily basis. And just the uncertainty, and what it might mean and the daily variances. That, in and of itself, is probably something that hasn’t been written about or considered enough but right now, that’s at the top of my list in terms of managing my team,” said University of Virginia Head Coach Bronco Mendenhall.

The Cavaliers game with Duke was moved from November to next weekend, following the Tech postponement. Moves like that could be a regular occurrence this season, but it makes things difficult for all involved parties.

Duke University Head Coach David Cutcliffe adds, “It puts us with another opener where we have no film of an upcoming opponent who have played a game. So we’ll have three opening games in a row, which is unique to say the least. And you know I’ve got great respect for Coach Mendenhall and the Virginia program and we may know a little bit more about them, but it’s still uniquely different. but hey it’s 2020, so we just keep moving forward.”

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