Somebody told Virginia Tech linebacker Bruce Taylor this week that Austin Peay is a school in Texas. He then made the assumption that “Peay” was simply a letter that stood for “Polytechnic,” similar to how the “Tech” in Virginia Tech is short for Polytechnic.
“But I found out today that Austin Peay was a guy, and . . . I’m gonna have to read up on that. That’s all I know,” a sheepish Taylor said Tuesday afternoon.
Austin Peay was actually the 32nd governor of Tennessee, and the Clarksville, Tenn., university that bears his name happens to be Virginia Tech’s next opponent. And the question that dominated the Hokies’ weekly news conference was whether the Hokies will be taking the Governors seriously after Monday night’s dramatic 20-17 overtime victory against Georgia Tech.
Since Austin Peay is a Football Championship Subdivision school coming to Blacksburg five days after the Hokies’ highly anticipated season opener, Virginia Tech has once again been forced to revisit its stunning loss to James Madison two years ago.
That defeat came five days after a heartbreaking Labor Day setback to No. 3 Boise State in the 2010 season opener, and the circumstances that led to the Dukes celebrating an unlikely victory at Lane Stadium still resonate as the Hokies prepare for another FCS school.
“We lingered on that game too long and didn’t focus at all on JMU,” Taylor said. “We gotta not do that this year because as we know, any given day you can be beaten.”
The good news is that Austin Peay does not appear to be on the same level as James Madison, the 2004 FCS national champion. The Governors only began doling out football scholarships back in 2006, have just two winning seasons since 1985 and had a combined record of 11-33 the past four years.
The two other times Austin Peay has faced a BCS conference opponent – last year against Cincinnati and in 2010 at Wisconsin – the Governors allowed 70 or more points in both losses. On Saturday, meanwhile, Austin Peay opened up its 2012 season with a 49-10 loss to Western Kentucky, a game in which it finished with just 11 passing yards.
But Virginia Tech is changing up its approach to dealing with a short week of preparation, starting with Athletic Director Jim Weaver and Coach Frank Beamer insisting that the Hokies play at home if they were going to be part of the ACC’s Labor Day night game. Coming off a physical game against Georgia Tech’s run-heavy attack, Beamer also gave his team the day off from practice Tuesday and the Hokies will have a shorter session than usual Wednesday.
The Hokies left Monday night’s game a bit nicked up, and wide receiver D.J. Coles (knee), linebacker Bruce Taylor (ankle), and defensive tackles Luther Maddy and Antoine Hopkins will all be in blue, limited-contact jerseys during practice. Coles’s availability will be a game time decision, but Beamer expects the other three to play Saturday.
Beamer said wide receiver Marcus Davis, who left late in Monday’s game with a shoulder injury, is “ready to roll.”
“I think we’ve just got to be smart about getting our legs back under us and we’ve got to prepare for Austin Peay, but we’ve got to make sure that we’re as healthy as we possibly can be, too,” Beamer said.
“It’s not what should happen; it’s what does happen.”
Quarterback Logan Thomas said the one major adjustment will come from playing against Austin Peay’s 4-3 defense rather than the 3-4 scheme Georgia Tech defensive coordinator Al Groh favors. But like Taylor, Thomas believes the onus falls on the players when it comes to taking an inferior opponent seriously this time around.
“I think a lot of it relies on us,” he said. “Our mentality is … this is just one step on the path that we want. We’ve got a chance to come up again on Saturday, just another person is in the way, so the workmanlike mentality that we have should be able to lead us right to where we want to be and be ready to go full go by Saturday.”