That wasn’t true. Asked Tuesday about how he’d feel if the Hokies backdoored their way into the ACC championship game, a possibility if Tech beats UVa in two weeks and Duke stumbles along the way, Gayle was unapologetic.
“We’ll definitely take it,” he said. ‘We’ll definitely show up and play.”
It won’t mean anything if the Hokies don’t beat the Cavaliers on Nov. 30 in Scott Stadium. They’ll practice briefly Tuesday through Thursday to try to keep their timing (some coaches will be out recruiting Friday night), slowly working in UVa preparation before going full bore Sunday.
The off week makes last weekend’s loss linger even longer, though.
“It’s the one thing about football,” defensive coordinator Bud Foster said. “You can lose in overtime in a basketball game and turn around and play a night or two later. Football, for us it’s two weeks that we’ve got to sit in here and kind of soak in this feeling that we have right now.
“But let’s go take care of business. We’ve got to go play well to feel better about ourselves.”
While Virginia Tech’s players have for reasons unexplained found it difficult to get up for what turned out to be losses against Duke, Boston College and Maryland, they don’t think that’s an issue against Virginia, which they’ve beaten nine straight times and 13 of the last 14, maintaining a near constant possession of the Commonwealth Cup.
“I got mad just because I knew two players on Maryland,” Gayle said. “I know half the roster at UVa.
“They talk about how they have the clock in their locker room, about a countdown to Virginia Tech and stuff. So they think so highly of us. We’re not going to disappoint them. …
“We don’t have a clock. We have a Cup.”
There were several players and coaches at interviews Tuesday, although that’s the only availability we have this week. So this post might be a little shorter than usual, since I want to parcel out some for the rest of the week.
Here are a few more notes and quotes anyway …
– Gayle doesn’t mind holding back when it comes to Virginia. You can tell that he genuinely dislikes the Cavaliers as a team.
That’s not to say he dislikes the players, however. He and UVa offensive tackle Morgan Moses were on the same high school all-star team. Gayle calls him a nice guy and one of his friends.
“But if I had the chance, I wouldn’t mind embarrassing him,” he said.
Gayle has tweaked Moses before on Twitter, although it was a different tackle, Oday Aboushi, who Gayle went after before last year’s game.
“Last year is funny, because [Moses] gave me Oday Aboushi’s number,” Gayle said. “And I texted him before the game, just talking trash. He didn’t know it was me. He was like, ‘Who is this?’ I said, ‘The Bodysnatcher.’ I think Morgan told him it was me, though. You can always have a lot of fun with the UVa guys.”
Moses is on the left side of the line this year, so Gayle won’t match up directly against him.
– I’ll go into more on this later this week, but offensive coordinator Scot Loeffler was pretty blunt in his assessment of the offense against Maryland. Each unit, and Loeffler didn’t exclude himself, made its share of mistakes that, when added up, is the reason he thinks the Hokies ultimately came up short.
“One or two mistakes per game at each position you can deal with,” he said. “But three or four? That adds up quick. And that’s what occurred. That’s the bottom line.”
– Cornerback Kyle Fuller (groin) and tailback Joel Caleb (quad) did not practice Tuesday. Fuller has missed almost all of the last four games with the injury. Caleb injured himself on special teams Saturday.
Cornerback Antone Exum (ankle) was in a blue, limited contact jersey but did not do anything on the field Tuesday. He did not dress against Maryland after turning an ankle against Miami.
It happened right when he was starting to feel back in the flow after missing the first seven games following offseason knee surgery.
“I felt like that was on its way to being a special night,” Exum said. “That was the best I had felt all season. It was just a bummer that a couple plays later I rolled my ankle.”
Head trainer Mike Goforth and Exum were hopeful Exum would be able to go full speed in practice next week.
– Senior linebacker Jack Tyler was one of 10 players named as semifinalists for the 2013 Burlsworth Trophy, given annually to the most outstanding college football player who began his career as a walk-on. The original list had 53 players on it.
Tyler, walk-on from Oakton, has started all 11 games this year and leads the Hokies with 89 tackles.
Tyler’s Oakton High teammate, Trey Watts of Tulsa, is also a semifinalist for the award. Watts is second in the Conference USA in rushing with 1,026 yards. Watts is the son of is the son of former Oklahoma Sooners quarterback and former U.S. Rep. J.C. Watts (R-Okla.).
There’s a fan vote portion of the award. You can vote once per 24-hour period here. It accounts for 5 percent of each round of voting.
– Redshirt freshman linebacker Deon Clarke is still serving what the Hokies have termed an “indefinite suspension” for a violation of team rules. But that only applies to competition. He has been allowed to practice with the team and did so with the second unit Tuesday.
Clarke was suspended originally for the Duke game for an unspecified violation of team rules. He returned and played special teams against Boston College the following week before a second suspension prior to the Miami game.