Virginia Tech Is Eager For Redemption Under The National Spotlight

October 12th, 2006  
Team Infidel

Topic: Virginia Tech Is Eager For Redemption Under The National Spotlight

Virginia Tech has had 10 days to figure out what went so wrong in 10 minutes. In less than a quarter, Georgia Tech minced what was thought to be -- and what still hopes to be -- an elite defense two Saturdays ago, and the Hokies have had to wait until tonight to seek redemption from the 21-point quarter that sunk their hopes for an unbeaten season.
To do so, Virginia Tech will have a familiar national stage, the Thursday night ESPN game Coach Frank Beamer likes so much. When the Hokies kick off against Boston College tonight, their main objective will be correcting a star-studded defense that flopped in its last game.
"The simple fact of a loss always gets the team hyped," linebacker Vince Hall said. "You can just tell in practice. Everyone has a little extra pep in their step."
The loss came because of Virginia Tech's early defensive problems, which few would have predicted. But once the Hokies fell behind, the players started pressing. Instead of fulfilling his assignment, each player tried to perform every task, to fill two or three gaps instead of just his own. As a result, the Hokies over-pursued ballcarriers, creating a void between their line and linebackers that quarterback Reggie Ball and running back Tashard Choice slashed through.
"We had a couple people trying to do other people's jobs," defensive end Noland Burchette said. "When they did that, it left that spot open. Just people trying to do too much."
Though the outcome can't be rescued, the flaw is easily correctable. Defensive coordinator Bud Foster alerted his team to its mistake, and it fixed the problem, just not in time.
While Georgia Tech presented a challenge with its quick linemen and fleet backs, Boston College favors mammoth linemen ("bigger than all get-out," Beamer called them) and straight-ahead, power running. Boston College's starting offensive linemen average 306 pounds, led by 321-pound guard Josh Beekman, perhaps the conference's best offensive lineman.
"I like physical games like this," Burchette said. "It tests your manhood. They have the same O-line, the same quarterback [as last season]. I just feel like we're going to line up and go at it."
Perhaps this game, following a loss, comes at a perfect time for the Hokies. The loss gnawed at Virginia Tech during its layoff. Practices had a revived intensity this week. Players heard about it from coaches, friends and each other all week.
"You get everybody asking lots of questions," Burchette said. "Everyone I talked to. We've got to show everyone Virginia Tech ain't really slipping."
Running back Branden Ore said the Thursday night games have become something like "Monday Night Football" for college players. It's on a weeknight, and it's the only game football fans, or other college football players, can watch.
"When the lights come on and it's night, I get pumped," Tech offensive tackle Brandon Frye said. "I was telling one of my teammates yesterday, I don't know what it is, but I just get excited and ready to go. A 12 o'clock game is early, 3:30 game you feel a little bit better. 7:30 game, you're ready to go, you're jacked."
Virginia Tech has become accustomed to playing on Thursday night. Tonight will be its 14th time playing on ESPN's Thursday night broadcast, and the Hokies' record is 12-1. The lone loss came to Boston College at home in 1995.
"I think we just attack it as we have time to chill all day, watch film and really relax," senior rover Aaron Rouse said. "So when it's time, guys are really ready to play. And to be honest, I think it just takes us back to our high school days, playing at 7 o'clock at night on Fridays. . . . You just have that great emotion built up throughout the day, so when it's time to play you're just ready to go."
That motivation won't be an issue this week. A team has to avenge a loss, a defense has to show its downturn was a fluke and everyone will be watching.
"I just feel like we're ready and we've got a statement game," Rouse said. "Something to prove."
Hokies Note: Wide receiver Josh Hyman will be suspended for the Boston College game, Virginia Tech sports information director Dave Smith said last night. first reported the story last night. Hyman, second on the team with 13 catches, was suspended for an unspecified "violation of team policy," Smith said. Roanoke-Lynchburg TV station WSLS says the junior was pulled over by Virginia Tech police early Friday morning and charged with DUI.

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