With a rare fall Saturday off, Logan Thomas took in a little football, but not much. Watching the game on TV, without the perspective of the entire field that he’s accustomed to in the film room, just isn’t the same.
It was a third straight day off for the Hokies, which was needed, considering their physical state. But given the way No. 16 Virginia Tech (6-1, 3-0 ACC) had been playing, with six straight wins, it wasn’t wholeheartedly welcomed.
“Any time you get the chance to play, it’s fun, but we all know that we needed the bye,” Thomas said. “A lot of us were banged up. … I think all of us in general are just happy to be back at it. Sometimes you can be away from it a little bit too much.”
The Hokies had Thursday through Saturday off, reconvening Sunday to begin their regular Duke preparation with a light practice.
The rest was welcome for a team that had played seven straight weeks to start the season. Thomas, who was dealing with a foot sprain among other ailments, said he used the week to get healthy, adding that his “arm’s back to being live again.”
Freshman cornerback Kendall Fuller said he spent a Saturday without a game sleeping, watching football on TV and getting rested up as much as possible.
Even offensive coordinator Scot Loeffler, a football nut, got away from things a little bit (“Which is a surprise because he doesn’t do much of that,” Thomas said). He, like the others coaches, was out recruiting this weekend and kept his interaction with Thomas minimal. But he did send a text the quarterback’s way during the Clemson-Florida State game.
“He just said let’s get prepared for the rest of this season because at the end of this thing, we can make it special,” Thomas said. “I’m in agreement with that, totally, and we’re excited to see where we can go from here on out.”
– The ACC announced a kickoff time Virginia Tech fans probably won’t be wild about. The Hokies’ game at Boston College on Nov. 2 will be a noon start. It’ll be televised by ABC, ESPN or ESPN2.
– Head coach Frank Beamer had his usual effusive praise for this week’s opponent, mentioning that this “is not the same Duke program that was here about four or five years ago. These guys are playing well.”
He specifically mentioned the Blue Devils’ second-half exploits the last couple weeks. Duke rallied from down 22-7 to beat Virginia 35-22 last week. The game before, the Devils out-scored Navy 21-0 in the second half of a 35-7 win.
“Once kids get that in their mind, it’s something to build on – you’re going to play your best football in the second half,” Beamer said. “I think right now coach [David] Cutcliffe, he’s done a really, really good job.”
Duke is 5-2 this year, one win shy of being bowl eligible for a second straight season, which would be a first for the program. Still, Tech has won 12 straight in the series, dating back to 1982.
– Still nothing official about whether or not cornerback Antone Exum will return this week, although Beamer said the bye week was good for the senior, who’s coming back from offseason ACL and bone fracture surgery.
Kyle Fuller doesn’t see Exum’s pending return changing much in the secondary.
“I think it can only make us better,” he said. “He’s a great player and when he gets back out there, I think you’ll see how much better we’ll be just from having an extra guy with his talent.”
– Both Fullers said Duke likes to attack teams deep. The Blue Devils went over the top last week against UVa on a 42-yard completion to Jamison Crowder.
“They’ve got a lot of play-makers on the field,” Kendall said. “They’ll throw it deep on you. They’re not afraid to take some deep shots. They’re always mixing the run, trying to get their run game going. From what I’ve seen, they like to get No. 3 [Crowder] the ball a lot. He’s a big play-maker on the team.”
– Duke jumped out to a 20-0 lead on Virginia Tech last year before the Hokies stormed back for a 41-20 victory at Lane Stadium.
“We don’t think we played well,” Kyle said. “So we definitely have to come out stronger this year.”
“We beat ourselves,” Thomas said. “I think we had a pick 6. Just a few things here and there that really destroyed us, but then we came out and started doing what we had to do, started being physical in the run game, and then we were able to drop back and throw it, make some big plays and then the defense played great as well. Just a little bit of everything.
“We came together as a team and that’s what we’re going to have this time. Make it a team effort. Obviously that’s what we’ve been doing thus far in the season and that’s what we’re going to have to do to finish it out: have a team effort.”
– I’ll probably be writing more about Kendall and Kyle later this week, but here’s what Thomas had to say about facing them in practice every day:
“They’re both very smart with how they play the game,” he said. “They both understand, even as young as Kendall is, he knows how to play the game. He understands what offenses are going to try and do. He’s not going to do anything but get better, especially being able to learn from his brother who has played in pretty much every game since he’s been here. They are both terrific football players.
“If they didn’t have separate numbers, you wouldn’t be able to tell the difference other than one plays boundary and one plays field at times, but they both can get moved all around. It’s fun to be able to watch those guys. It’s fun to be able to watch Kendall grow up with his brother just because they push each other.”