GREENSBORO, N.C. – Virginia Tech head coach Justin Fuente is the 2016 Atlantic Coast Conference Coach of the Year in a vote of members of the Atlantic Coast Conference Sports Media Association (ACSMA). Fuente has guided the Hokies to a 9-3 record and a berth in the Dr Pepper ACC Championship Game – their first appearance in the league title game since 2011.
Virginia Tech now has six ACC division titles, the most of any school since the Hokies joined the ACC in 2004. Virginia Tech will face Clemson at Camping World Stadium in Orlando on Saturday, as the Hokies seek their fifth ACC championship. Dating back to the 2004 campaign, no team owns more ACC titles than Virginia Tech’s four league crowns. Florida State also has won four ACC championships over that span.
Fuente’s nine victories are tied with C.P. Miles (9-1 record in 1905) for the most by a first-year coach in Virginia Tech history. The ACC’s youngest head coach and the fourth-youngest FBS head coach, Fuente has overseen an offensive resurgence for the Hokies in 2016. Virginia Tech’s 28 touchdown passes already have surpassed the previous single-season school record of 24. At its current pace, the offense is projected to break single-season team records for points, total offense and passing offense.
The Hokies also have continued Tech’s tradition of being opportunistic on defense and special teams in Fuente’s debut campaign in Blacksburg. Andrew Motuapuaka returned a fumble 70 yards for a touchdown in a 52-10 victory over Virginia, marking the 90th defense touchdown for the Hokies since 1987. The Hokies also own two special teams scores in 2016, getting an 87-yard punt return by Greg Stroman vs. East Carolina, while Adonis Alexander returned a blocked field goal attempt for a 75-yard touchdown at Duke. In addition, Virginia Tech’s defense ranks third among Power Five schools in third-down defense at 28.8 percent, trailing only Michigan (20.9 percent) and Wisconsin (26.6 percent).
The 40-year-old Fuente joined Virginia Tech after a four-year stint at Memphis, where he orchestrated a remarkable turnaround. After inheriting a program that went 5-31 in the three years prior to his arrival, the Tigers went 19-6 in their final two seasons under Fuente, earning back-to-back bowl appearances. Virginia Tech is currently ranked No. 18 in the Amway USA Today Coaches Poll and is No. 19 in the Associated Press’ Top 25.