Hokies Expecting Best Shot From Struggling Eagles
BOSTON (AP) - Boston College is Virginia Tech’s biggest nemesis in the Atlantic Coast Conference.
The Eagles’ three victories against the Hokies are more than any other team in the ACC has managed since the 16th-ranked Hokies joined the league in 2004, and coach Frank Spaziani’s team hopes coming off a bye week will help it get another one on Saturday.
“We can see improvement in a lot of areas,” Spaziani said of his Eagles (1-5, 0-3 Atlantic Coast Conference), who need a dramatic turnaround in the second half to continue a string of 12 consecutive seasons ending in a bowl game. “There’s a lot of positives, but the bottom line is winning games. It’s really hard to articulate all the positives when you’re not winning games.”
The Hokies (6-1, 2-1) have rebounded well from a September to Clemson, beating Miami at home and winning at Wake Forest last weekend. They have their offense working on the ground and through the air, and a beat-up defense that somehow continues to improve.
They also have a healthy respect for Boston College, a team they have easily handled in their past three meetings, but also one they have met twice in the conference title game.
“You know they have the team, they have the talent,” wide receiver Danny Coale said. “They’re traditionally a powerhouse on that side of the division and in the entire conference.”
Sometimes, there’s nothing like an old rival to help a team rise to the occasion.
“They’re playing extremely hard for that first conference win and I’m sure they’d like nothing more than to come in here and get that,” Coale said. “We know we’re going to get their best shot, and when they play their best, and when they play complete games, they’re a pretty good team.”
The Eagles, though, are also missing their best offensive player — tailback Montel Harris — because of an injury. Spaziani said Harris, the No. 12 rusher in ACC history, is likely finished for the season, and his absence has put additional pressure on sophomore quarterback Chase Rettig.
Rettig has been sporadic with six touchdowns and five interceptions, and the only time the Eagles have managed more than 19 points this season was against Massachusetts of the FCS.
Two of the Hokies’ five victories against Boston College have come in ACC championship games, and both times the victories came after losses to the Eagles in the regular season.
This year, Virginia Tech is hoping for another chance to avenge a regular-season loss — this one to Clemson — in the title game, and when Virginia handed No. 20 Georgia Tech its first loss of the season last weekend, it again gave coach Frank Beamer’s team control of its destiny.
“Well, I told our team, `It’s in our hands,”‘ Beamer said this week. “That’s the good part of it. (I told them) before the Wake Forest game, we don’t have to rely on anyone else. It’s in our hands. We’ve played the undefeated teams, but we’ve got to take care of business.”
Three other teams in the ACC’s Coastal Division also have one league loss — the Yellow Jackets, Virginia and Duke — and the Hokies will play all three on the road.
“There’s a lot of people in this conference right now who feel they can get there,” Beamer said of the championship game in Charlotte, N.C. “It’s pretty wide open. There’s a lot of games, a lot of plays before that happens, but at least it’s in our hands.”
Mostly, those hands belong to quarterback Logan Thomas, and after a slow start, the redshirt sophomore has seemingly found his stride.
He’s accounted for nine touchdowns — five passing and four rushing — in the past two games, and said it’s all making more sense to him now.
“You always hear about quarterbacks having the game slow down for them and it really has for me. I’m able to see the open receiver, get him the ball and also not force passes in there,” he said.
(Copyright 2011 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)