Practice notes: Wilson’s emotional speech after loss to Clemson set the tone for remainder of Hokies’ season
He told his teammates as much.
“The team got in there and just like a rage came over me and I was screaming at my team telling them we shouldn’t have lost that game,” the running back recalled of the Oct. 1 matchup’s aftermath. “‘They’re not better than us.’ And I told them we weren’t going to lose any more games. And I told them I mean it.”
The Hokies haven’t lost since, winning seven straight games to get back to the ACC championship game for the fifth time in the last seven years.
Wilson said he doesn’t normally get like that, but something about the Clemson loss, one in which the Hokies didn’t score an offensive touchdown, pushed him over the edge.
He stormed straight to the locker room, passing up any post-game handshakes at midfield. In the locker room, head coach Frank Beamer tried to tell him it was all right. Wilson wasn’t hearing it.
“It was one of those moments where I felt outside of my body,” he said. “I felt like I was watching me rage off. Whenever I get that mad, I get numb in my nose and I felt that. I know that’s not good when it gets numb right here.”
Wilson had 23 carries for 123 yards in that game, but he felt like he had more to give.
“The reason I was real emotional was because it was the first time for me at Tech that I was really involved in a game that we lost,” he said. “In the past, I’ve been a backup guy or a special teams guy and didn’t really have a part in the game. But that Clemson game, that was the first time I had a part in a team that lost.”
What was the reaction to the speech?
“They were shocked,” Wilson said. “I don’t know what their reaction was, but everybody was quiet, and I looked up and I seen everybody just looking at me with big eyes.”
“It was real,” running backs coach Shane Beamer said. “It was real and it was genuine. … And he spoke for the whole team. We don’t like letting a team come in here and embarrass us in our stadium like they did. And we said that night we’d like to get another shot at them.”
Plenty more notes and quotes from after Tuesday’s practice.
- Wilson said he hasn’t submitted any paperwork to the NFL Draft advisory board, a group of GMs and personnel directors that evaluates a college player and gives them a grade of what round they might be selected. He said he will, though. He has until Dec. 17 to do so. Underclassmen who enter their names in the draft have until Jan. 15 to do so. “Regardless of my decision, I would like to see where I would end up if I was to take that route,” Wilson said.
- The ACC Playerof the Year Award comes out tomorrow. Wilson has a great shot at winning it. “I think that would be sweet,” Wilson said. “I think Tyrod (Taylor) won the award last year, and what he’s done for this program … A lot of great players have won that award, and I would feel real accomplished by winning that award.”
- What would that award do for the team? “I think it helps you in recruiting,” QB coach and play-caller Mike O’Cain said. “It helps you in that position to understand that the tailback position for us is a critical spot because we’re going to run the football.”
- Wilson, like others, is a little steamed that Clemson probably cost Tech a shot at a national title with the loss earlier this season. But he’s not convinced that even if the Hokies won that game they would get a shot. “After these past two weeks and seeing how the polls work, I mean we went up to a UVa team that a lot of experts were picking us to lose and won in a shutout and then we get jumped by Stanford,” he said. “Even if we went undefeated, who knows, they still probably would have excluded us from the conversation.”
- O’Cain had a hard time putting a finger on what just went wrong in the first Clemson game. “We were just a little out of sync,” he said. “I don’t know. And I say we, I put myself in that mix. I don’t feel like I did a great job that night. We were just a little … I don’t know. It’s hard.”
- O’Cain said the Hokies’ 4-for-16 night on third downs were a big reason for the struggles. He thinks if they got a few more of those they might have had more success. Two early turnovers after long drives didn’t help their cause either. He re-examined himself after the game. “Sometimes some games, just for whatever reason, you never get a flow, you never get a feel,” he said. “Maybe it’s the turnovers. You get in a rhythm and all of a sudden you turn the ball over. And that happened to us the first two possessions. And now you feel, I don’t know, you just never get back to that … it’s hard to explain unless you’ve been in it. You get in a game and you get in a flow of calling things and it just kind of rolls off your tongue. That night it didn’t.”
- Right guard Jaymes Brooks was a second-team All-ACC pick. He said the line is playing as well as it has lately, especially compared to when he first got there. “We’re leading the league right now in sacks (allowed),” he said. “That’s a big accomplishment from when I first got here, we gave up 54 sacks or some crap like that when I was a freshman. So we’re coming along real good I think.”
- In addition to being his linemate, Brooks is Blake DeChristopher‘s roommate, so he has some good insight into The Beard. “Pretty manly,” he said. “Me, I only have this little part on my chin, so I would love to grow a beard. But god just didn’t bless me.” Brooks said DeChristopher is always combing it, shampooing it. He doesn’t want his friend to shave it, however. “We would never ask him to shave a beautiful thing like that,” Brooks said.
- Some more on DeChristopher. Someone pointed out that he hasn’t allowed a sack this year. ”Offensive line coaches and offensive linemen, we’re a lot alike: we try to forget those things as quickly as possible,” offensive coordinator and tackles coach Bryan Stinespring said. “With Blake, I can’t even remember (the last time he gave up a sack).”
- DeChristopher is a big, powerful guy who can “anchor the edge,” as Stinespring said, but his knowledge of the game is great too. “There’s nothing quite like experience,” Stinespring said. “Been there, seen that, done that. I think he’s like a quarterback out there for the offensive line.”
- Stinespring said DeChristopher’s quirky personality with the media might be a little bit of a put-on. But Stinespring said he gets his own little “welcomings” when he checks DeChristopher’s room on the road. “That’s always an interesting event,” said Stinespring, who laughed when he said he couldn’t give any more details.
- O’Cain’s heard about them but hasn’t experienced them. “I stay away,” he said. “I’ve head some rumors.”
- O’Cain said he was as proud of DeChristopher for winning the Jacobs Blocking Trophy as if he was his own son. As a former quarterback, O’Cain has a high respect for the guys in the trenches. “I’ve always told myself, if I had been an offensive lineman, been a big guy, I probably wouldn’t have played football because how much fun can you have with your head in the sand all the time, your head in the dirt, between your legs or whatever,” he said. “So I’ve always had a lot of respect for those guys who come in and work their tails off. The only time you hear about them is when they get a penalty or give up a sack. That’s the only time you ever hear about an offensive lineman. And for them to go out, and it’s a great group. They have a lot of fun together. And I have a lot of fun with them too.”