“I was like, ‘You don’t gotta worry about that. We’ll be in bowl game,’” Thomas said. “So that’s just the mindset we all have.”
“We’ve only taken one ACC loss to a good North Carolina team so everything besides the national championship is still in reach for us,” cornerback Antone Exum said. “Those were our goals coming into the season and they’re still our goals now. We’re not going to fold or lay down or anything like that.”
Virginia Tech’s start is the team’s worst since 1992, a season in which it finished 2-8-1. With road games against Clemson and Miami and a Thursday nighter at home against Florida State, it’s probable that the Hokies’ eight-year run of 10 or more wins will come to an end.
Tech’s 19-year bowl streak, the third-longest in the nation, is no guarantee to continue at this point either. In fact, this week’s opponent Duke, at 5-1, is closer to bowl eligibility at this point than Virginia Tech.
Despite the team’s struggles, the Hokies aren’t panicking.
“I don’t see us in crisis at all,” Thomas said. “Everybody’s been upbeat, been ready to go. I guess we’d be in crisis if we couldn’t move the ball and if we couldn’t stop anybody. That’s not the case. We’ve been able to move the ball and we’ve been able to stop people. We just haven’t done it all in the same game yet. Once we begin to do that we’ll be just fine.”
Head coach Frank Beamer, in an oft-repeated refrain, thinks Virginia Tech has to get the smaller details down, things like players taking care of their proper gap and their own responsibility.
Exum spoke about trying to avoid playing “hero ball” on defense, with players trying to do other peoples’ jobs.
“We’ve got a lot of football to play,” Beamer said. “I’ve always believed it’s how you finish. It’s not how you start. How you start matters, but how you finish really matters. That’s what we’re going to try to do.”
Here are more notes and quotes from today’s press conference …
- Both Sean Renfree and Anthony Boone have been getting reps at quarterback for Duke this week. Renfree missed the Virginia game last week with an elbow injury. Beamer expects to see both Saturday. “They have to practice both, but you’ve got to practice both too [to prepare],” he said. “There’s no secret there.”
- Beamer praised fifth-year Duke coach David Cutcliffe for the job he’s done there. “He’s a solid coach, solid person,” he said. “We were lucky to get out of there last year. They play good football, sound football. Like I said earlier, an extremely well coached football team.”
- With David Wang (ankle/knee) and Caleb Farris (ankle) battling injuries this week, sophomore Laurence Gibson has moved from tackle to guard this week to provide some depth.
- Plenty of stuff today on wide receiver Demitri Knowles, who I’ll be writing a feature on for Wednesday’s paper. Interesting backstory there. He grew up in the Bahamas, stood out at a football camp and wanted to pursue that in life, so he moved to Lynchburg to have a better chance. He’s still pretty raw, but Thomas is gaining trust in him, especially after a six-catch, 83-yard performance against North Carolina. “The only trust thing with me is trusting him to run the right route, and he did that every single time on Saturday so I can’t complain with that,” Thomas said. “Yeah, he has my full trust now.”
- Exum said the tackling periods of practice have been different this week. “Instead of tagging off and stuff and our scout periods and varsity and things like that, we’re making sure and holding each other accountable to wrapping the ball carrier up,” he said. “Not tackling him to the ground, but just wrapping him up and making sure his forward progress is stopped. Hopefully that will translate to the game.” More on the defense after tonight’s round of interviews.