After loss to Boise State, Virginia Tech football has short week to bounce back
Wednesday, September 8, 2010; 7:49 PM
BLACKSBURG, VA. - Following his team's season-opening loss to No. 3 Boise State Monday night, Virginia Tech senior Davon Morgan couldn't sleep. After arriving back on campus at 4 a.m. thanks to the Hokies' charter flight from BWI airport to Roanoke, the safety was still "in game mode," his mind racing with images of the little mistakes that could have turned a devastating defeat into a resounding victory.
He watched "SportsCenter" to pass the time, including several replays of the game-winning touchdown pass by Broncos quarterback Kellen Moore, finally closing his eyes around 7 in the morning. But even though the Hokies were excused from all classes before noon on Tuesday because of their late arrival, Morgan made sure he was at his one morning class, even if it meant surviving on four hours of sleep.
"I wanted to let the campus know, and everybody else know, that just because we took a loss that we're not gonna be down about it," said Morgan. "We gotta keep pushing forward."
But with Virginia Tech scheduled to face James Madison on Saturday afternoon, that Monday night defeat has brought on more challenges than just getting moving on mentally. The Hokies will be forced to operate on four days' rest this weekend, and because of an off day Tuesday, they'll have to squeeze a week's worth of preparation into three days.
Coach Frank Beamer said that practice sessions Wednesday and Friday would include two days' worth of instruction, but he also wanted to try to lessen the overall workload on the team. "It's a lot to cover in a short time," he said. "When you play on a short week, your rest gets interfered with and you worry about how that affects . . . practice."
It's particularly challenging considering the toll - both emotionally and physically - Monday night's game took on Virginia Tech. The Hokies had to dig themselves out of a 17-point first-quarter deficit, only to watch their effort go to waste when the Broncos scored that decisive touchdown.
"Emotionally draining I think is an understatement," said junior wide receiver Danny Coale (Episcopal High).
Senior quarterback Tyrod Taylor suffered an apparent leg injury in the second half against the Broncos, but remained in the game. He confirmed Wednesday that he would be fine for this weekend, and he might be the most prepared for such a quick about-face. During his prolific high school career, the Hampton, Va., native was once forced to play three games in a week.
"It's a short turnaround but it has to be done," said Taylor. "We knew that going into the season."
Taylor: No Tebow speech
Throughout preseason practices, Taylor was not afraid to vocalize his goal for the Hokies: a national championship. On the heels of Monday night's loss, Taylor was asked if he would emulate the 2008 speech given by former Florida quarterback Tim Tebow - which is now immortalized on a plaque in Gainesville - after the Gators lost an early-season contest to Mississippi. Florida went on to win the BCS championship that year.
"I'll save those speeches for the locker room," said Taylor, a team captain. "We just have to go out there, and the rest of the games show people that we can play and that we're worthy of our national ranking."
Taylor said he's been talking with teammates individually, regardless of their position or age, emphasizing they shouldn't get used to this losing feeling. "For the most part, if they're on campus, I've talked to them," he said.
Starting defensive end Chris Drager suffered a knee injury in the first half Monday, and though he did return to the game, his availability for this weekend is in question. Cornerback Jayron Hosley struggled with cramping problems Monday, but should be available against James Madison. Left tackle Nick Becton, the presumed starter for much of the spring, is still dealing with a turf toe injury and did not play against Boise State. His status will be evaluated in practice this week. Linebacker Barquell Rivers, who has struggled while coming back from a torn quad, is still having trouble running at full speed and there is no timetable on his return to the lineup.