“You know how we’re Virginia Tech and Tech stands for polytechnic university,” he said. “I was thinking that it was Austin, Texas, and the ‘P’ was for something like that. But I found out today that Austin Peay was a guy, and … I’m going to have to read up on that. That’s all I know.”
Quick lesson: Austin Peay is in Clarksville, Tenn. It’s named after the 32nd governor of Tennessee. It’s an FCS program that only recently went back to scholarship football. It has two winning seasons since 1985 and is 11-33 in the last four years. It lost 49-10 to Western Kentucky in the season opener and its only game against a ranked team resulted in a 70-3 loss to Wisconsin in 2010.
That’s not to say No. 15 Virginia Tech is taking the Governors lightly. After all, James Madison is still fresh in peoples’ minds.
“We learned that we can’t take your opponent lightly in any situation, no matter who you’re playing, what week it is,” Taylor said of the embarrassing loss to the FCS team at Lane Stadium in 2010. “We learned a valuable lesson that you can’t take your opponent lightly at all.”
The Dukes, for those who don’t remember (and really how couldn’t you?), upset the Hokies 21-16 in 2010, only five days after Virginia Tech’s heartbreaking loss to Boise State at FedEx Field in Landover, Md., on Labor Day night.
“We lingered on that game too long and didn’t focus at all on JMU,” Taylor said bluntly. “We’ve got to not do that this year because as we know, any given day you can be beaten.”
That’s been the message this week in Blacksburg.
“Our mentality is this is just one step on the path that we want,” quarterback Logan Thomas said. “We’ve got a chance to come up again on Saturday, just another person is in the way.”
“It’s not a matter of what should happen; it’s what does happen,” head coach Frank Beamer said. “So we’ve got to be ready to play a football game.”
The Hokies are changing their preparation schedule a little bit this week. They didn’t practice yesterday and they’re doing a little bit less today because of what a physical game Georgia Tech was.
“We’ve got to prepare for Austin Peay, but we’ve got to make sure that we’re as healthy as we possibly can be too,” Beamer said.
Four players — defensive tackles Luther Maddy and Antoine Hopkins, Taylor (ankle) and wide receiver D.J. Coles (knee) — will be in blue, limited jerseys today. Beamer expects the first three to play. Coles, whose knee injury is unrelated to the PCL surgery he had in the offseason, will be re-evaluated today.
Wide receiver Marcus Davis left the game briefly with a shoulder injury but “is fine and ready to roll,” Beamer said.
Plenty more notes and quotes from today’s presser …
- Taylor on beating Georgia Tech: “You don’t really take much from the Georgia Tech game. You’re just happy to win it because they are a very unique offense.”
- With Tariq Edwards on the mend and his status up in the air for this week, it could give the Hokies some more time to sort out their linebacking situation. Jack Tyler was the ACC linebacker of the week after making 17 tackles against Georgia Tech. Taylor, who sprained his ankle early in the game, admittedly had an average game at the backer position. It’ll be an interesting dynamic when Edwards, a backer by nature, returns to the field. “Well, there probably is going to be an odd man out because we all four can’t play at once,” Taylor said. “There might be some kind of rotation. That’s what I would want, but that’s out of my hands. [Defensive coordinator Bud Foster] says when we’re all healthy he wants all of us to be able to rotate in and out and have three or four guys that he truly trusts us and can go out there and perform.”
- Getting back to the JMU loss briefly, Taylor had an interesting take on the start of that season. “Honestly, it didn’t hurt as bad as the Boise loss,” he said. “I felt like the Boise loss kind of numbed me up to the losing feeling, but it definitely still hurt. It probably hurt more in the later days after seeing the media stuff like that.”
- Taylor was very candid about how much the Boise State loss demoralized the team. “That game stuck with guys for a while,” he said. “We really wanted to win that game. With the situation we were in, playing a top-five opponent for the first game. If we could’ve won that game, we would’ve been, probably, lined up for a national championship if we would’ve beaten them. But we felt that dream was done when we lost that game.”
- Right tackle Vinston Painter was excited for his first career start, so much so that he had to take sleeping pills the night before the game. “It finally hit me full tilt when we were in the tunnel right before the game started and I just started yelling and hollering and getting the guys going,” he said. Painter thought the line handled itself OK, even though there were a few busts. “We have definitely made some great strides since the spring, playing together as a unit, picking up blitzes faster, recognizing things that defenses are doing faster as far as fronts and blitz giveaways and whatnot,” he said.
- Painter, by the way, shaved off his dreads and is going with the close-cropped look. He said the long hair was getting a little hot during practice. His new ‘do is cheaper too. “As far as cost, it’s easy to get a haircut — $15, compared to $40, so it was a pretty easy decision.” Lastly, he has a 1-year-old daughter in Norfolk. ”I’m a father now,” he said. “I figured it was time to start looking the part.”
- Beamer talked about the botched punt attempt early in the game. He said Joe St. Germain‘s snap was a little wide, but A.J. Hughes took his eye off the ball right before he tried to catch it. “Coach [Bryan] Stinespring and Shane [Beamer] both have seen something where at the time he was catching the ball, his eyes were somewhere else,” Frank said. “They were looking down. So I think it’s just a matter of concentration.” Beamer liked what Hughes did on the night otherwise. He had three punts downed inside the 20 and another that just barely trickled into the end zone.
- Lots of stuff about Thomas today, which I’ll expound on tonight after talking with quarterbacks coach Mike O’Cain. Thomas was critical of himself after the game and even after he watched the film. “Looking at it, I don’t think I played as bad as I thought I did at the time,” he said. “But I still played pretty bad.”
- Speedy wide receiver Demitri Knowles came in for an injured Davis right before his touchdown catch — the first reception of his career — in the fourth quarter. Thomas knew it was going his direction as soon as he got the play-call. “I said, ‘Get by him because it’s coming your way,’” he said. “The read took me to him. They didn’t play a safety over time, and I’ll take my chances every time with that.”
- Virginia Tech has more graduates playing for it this fall than any team in the country, with 15. Pittsburgh is next on the list with 12, followed by Florida State (11), Central Florida (11) and four teams with 10 (TCU, Illinois, Northwestern, South Carolina).
- The Hokies have two payout games this year — Austin Peay and Bowling Green. Considering the going rate for non-conference foes, they got a pretty good bargain. They’ll pay Austin Peay $318,750 to play Saturday and Bowling Green $400,000 later this month.
- Former Virginia Tech wide receiver Marcus Gildersleeve is a wide receivers/special teams coach for Austin Peay. He played for the Hokies from 1996-98 and 23 passes for 328 yards and three touchdowns in his career. At Murray State, Beamer also had Rob Christophel on his staff. That’s the brother of Austin Peay coach Rick Christophel.
- Former Hokies running back David Wilson texted Thomas before the Georgia Tech game the other night. “He said, ‘Go out there and do your thing,’” Thomas said. “He actually said, ‘I wish I was out there on the field with you guys.’” Wilson has his own game to worry about tonight. He and cornerback Jayron Hosley will make their NFL debut tonight when the New York Giants host the Dallas Cowboys. Wilson sounds amped.