Hokies coach praises QB Josh Jackson for what he did not do

FILE- In this Sept. 3, 2017, file photo, Virginia Tech quarterback Josh Jackson throws to a receiver in the first half of an NCAA college football game against West Virginia in Landover, Md. Jackson got rave reviews for leading the No. 18 Hokies past West Virginia in his college debut, and coach Justin Fuente said Tuesday, Sept. 5, the redshirt freshman also stood out for some things he didn't do. (AP Photo/Patrick Semansky, File)

Virginia Tech coach Justin Fuente had a slightly different take on the debut of Hokies quarterback Josh Jackson.

The coach praised the redshirt freshman not only for what he did against West Virginia, but also for what he didn’t do.

”There were some times when things weren’t just perfect and he didn’t turn them into a bad situation for us or a game-altering play for West Virginia,” Fuente said Tuesday. ”He obviously valued the football, he was calm and collected out there throughout the entire game and he made some plays. He manufactured a few plays.”

Jackson completed 15 of 26 passes for 235 yards and a touchdown, ran for 101 yards and another score and avoided turning the ball over against the Mountaineers.

One highlight of the 31-24 victory , a 46-yard run, has caused him to be the target of teammates’ jokes. Jackson got tackled from behind just short of the end zone.

”We joke around with Josh all the time about being able to run and go,” receiver Eric Kumah said. ”And this week in practice, he was like, `If y’all guys see me take off, just know that I won’t get walked down by the defender.’ So after the game we were joking with him, laughing about it, because he got walked down by the defenders.”

Right tackle Kyle Chung said he was surprised ”a little bit” by Jackson’s speed.

”We haven’t really had the opportunity to see Josh run that much, just because it’s non-contact during camp and everything,” Chung said. ”But he had some great runs. I saw him when he broke that 46-yarder, he was kind of moving. I was kind of like, `Jeez, Josh.’ I didn’t know he had wheels like that. It was good to see.”

The No. 18 Hokies play Delaware of the FCS on Saturday at Lane Stadium.

For all the praise that came his way, Jackson was far from perfect.

”There’s definitely some little things, I think, as an offense we need to improve on like third down in the red zone. We’ve got to make sure when we get down there we turn all of those into touchdowns, obviously,” he said. ”And then third down, just converting better, I think, is what we’ve got to work on.

”Myself, maybe flipping protections, getting the ball out maybe quicker on some plays and location, I guess you could say.”

Virginia Tech made six trips inside the Mountaineers’ 20 and came away with three touchdowns and a field goal.

Placekicker Joey Slye missed on two other field goal attempts.

After a weekend that included several major upsets, the Hokies will have to avoid complacency against the Blue Hens, Jackson said.

”That’s going to be, I think, very big this week,” he said. ”We’ve got to make sure that we’re working just as hard as we did for West Virginia. We have to prepare like this is West Virginia or another big-time team no matter who it is because getting better ourselves, making sure we’re better, I think, is what we’ve got to focus on.”

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