“I don’t think NFL stadiums have anything to do with whether we win or lose,” head coach Frank Beamer said.
“I think it’s just coincidence,” cornerback Antone Exum said. “Hopefully we’ll be able to end that losing streak here.”
Whatever it is, the Hokies hope to end the skid this Saturday against Cincinnati at FedEx Field in Landover, Md.
Tech’s recent trips to NFL stadiums haven’t gone to plan. There was the 35-17 loss to Pittsburgh earlier this season at Heinz Field. Before that was the overtime loss to Michigan in the Sugar Bowl last season at the Superdome. Before that was last year’s ACC championship game loss to Clemson at Charlotte’s Bank of America Stadium. And before that the 2011 Orange Bowl loss to Stanford in Miami’s Sun Life Stadium.
The last time Virginia Tech played at FedEx Field, of course, was the last-minute loss to Boise State in 2010.
Of course, the Hokies have some wins at NFL stadiums too. Their three ACC title game victories came in Jacksonville, Tampa Bay and Charlotte.
Does anything change in Virginia Tech’s preparation?
“Nope,” Beamer said bluntly.
“I don’t think your game style should change, no matter where you go,” quarterback Logan Thomas said. “Football is football. It doesn’t matter if you play on a practice field or in an NFL stadium.”
The players still look at playing in NFL digs as a thrill, though.
“Whenever you get to play in an NFL stadium it’s a good opportunity,” Exum said. “Not everybody gets to do that.”
Here are more notes and quotes from Tuesday’s press conference …
- Beamer said finding motivation to play Cincinnati this week isn’t hard. “They turn on the tape, they’re not going to overlook Cincinnati. I promise you,” he said. “But it’s just the fact that they pounded Pittsburgh and Pittsburgh pounded us.”
- Getting Kyle Fuller back at cornerback was a boost for the Hokies. “He’s a confidence builder,” Beamer said. “When he’s there, you feel confident that things will get done right. He’s a play-maker. The game makes sense to him. When he’s not there, I think the other guys miss him and they understand what a terrific player he is. I think, besides his play, he brings confidence to our defense.”
- Interesting take by linebacker Bruce Taylor about who is the vocal leader on the defense is. ”We don’t have a certain guy that gets us hyped,” he said. “I do a lot of the talking during practice and before games and stuff, but I feel like this team, we don’t really need a guy like that one guy that has to yell and scream and do all that. We all know what we need to do and we all know that we’re prepared to go out and do it. You’ve just got to go out there and do it. … I know how some teams have that one guy that before every game, has to get up and push and shove and do all that. We all kind of do that.”
- Taylor said he doesn’t care whether an opposing team’s quarterback is a runner or a passer. “Whoever the best is,” he said. “If you’re that pocket guy and you’re real good, I want to pick you off or get a sack on you. If you’re a mobile guy, I want you to pull it, I want you to keep it and try to hit the edge and me make a play’
- Cincinnati quarterback Munchie Legaux is a dual-threat who has been particularly effective on the ground. Tech would like to send a message on the field early. “We always want to punish quarterbacks who try to run the ball,” Taylor said. “That goes back to trying to make a team one-dimensional. I feel like as a coach, if you see a quarterback out there constantly, that’s your quarterback, you don’t want him beat up. You’re going to start handing that ball to someone else or you’re going to start passing.”
- Thomas didn’t have the most accurate-looking numbers after the Bowling Green game (11-for-26) but he thought he did OK. “I thought I was as accurate as I needed to be Saturday,” he said. Thomas said he had six or seven throwaways, a couple of them because of pressure. “I guess the stats didn’t indicate accuracy,” he said. “But when I was able to set my feet and throw the ball, I threw it where I wanted to.” He did acknowledge that something is “just missing” in the passing game as far as timing with receivers, although he couldn’t pinpoint the reason.
- As for the thumb of his throwing hand, Thomas said it’s fine. The trainers reattached the fingernail. He wasn’t wearing any kind of wrap today on it.
- Thomas is expecting Cincinnati’s best shot. “People play us tough just because of our name,” he said. “We would have it no other way. I expect them to have this game circled as a big one. But we also have to have it circled as a big one because it helps us get better and get to where we want to go.”
- From the sounds of it, FedEx Field is not going to be a full house Saturday (or anywhere close). Sometimes that affects how a football team plays. “I think you can ask anybody, it’s much easier to play when it’s a full stadium, when you’ve got a bunch of fans either cheering for you or cheering against you,” Thomas said. “That’s just the nature of college football. That’s what you grew up watching. And that’s kind of what puts the chill bumps on you, gets you going. It is tougher to play at a place where it’s not full, it’s not packed, but you have to change your mindset and you have to get yourself going.”
- Beamer repeated some remarks he made on Tech Talk Live on Monday night that the team will seek redshirts for receiver Josh Stanford and linebacker Deon Clarke. While Stanford has been dealing with a knee injury lately, it doesn’t sound like Tech will be petitioning the NCAA on an injury basis. Both played only a handful of snaps this year (Stanford had 11 vs. Austin Peay; Clarke had 16 vs. AP, 4 vs. Pittsburgh and 3 vs. Georgia Tech), but apparently there is a non-medical petition for regaining a year of eligibility. Normally, you play any snap in a season in any game and there’s no injury, you lose the year. I’m checking the rule book to see exactly what it might be. (I remember UVa’s Gordie Sammis had something similar back in the day and got another year but had to sit out a game or two as a penance, but he only got into one game for one snap.)