BLACKSBURG, VA. -- This weekend is homecoming for Virginia Tech but you probably could not tell by the dejected looks from players whose friends, family and alumni will be visiting. That teamwide depression is directly linked with the Hokies' lackluster 31-28 loss last weekend to Temple that dropped their record to 3-4.

"The loss was tough in a lot of ways," said Coach Frank Beamer. "We haven't lost many games when I thought we were better. We'd play hard {against good teams} and get beat."

The hard work Beamer enjoys mentioning -- mostly about the defense -- was not evident against the Owls.

"We've always played with intensity, but we just didn't have that Saturday," said Beamer. "When I don't have the team prepared well enough and when you don't play with any intensity or emotion, I feel I let this team down."

The players are equally down on themselves.

"We were embarrassed of our performance," said senior linebacker Archie Hopkins. "I've never seen a Tech defense play so poorly."

With the bad memories of last weekend still fresh, the players have new problems. Foremost is homecoming opponent Southern Mississippi (6-2), whose only losses have been narrow ones to Georgia and Mississippi State.

"They're just an athletic football team, probably the most athletic team we've faced, besides Florida State," said Beamer. "With all the circumstances surrounding this thing, the injuries and the {last} loss, I don't know if we've had a tougher challenge."

The injury list is another worry. Quarterback Will Furrer injured his left ankle on a late hit against Temple after throwing for two touchdowns and running 22 yards for his first collegiate touchdown. Taking his place will be seldom-used redshirt junior Rodd Wooten.

Four other starters are hurt. Freshman center Jim Pyne and redshirt sophomore offensive tackle Chris Holt are doubtful and senior offensive tackle Eugene Chung is questionable. On defense, senior outside linebacker Darwin Herdman has knee ligament damage and could be lost for the rest of the year. The only good news is that Vaughn Hebron, the Hokies' leading scorer (six touchdowns) and rusher (480 yards), says his pulled groin, which kept him out against Temple, is feeling better and he hopes to be available.

The last thing bothering the Hokies is that the loss to the Owls has severely dimmed their postseason hopes. After Southern Mississippi, their remaining games are against ACC teams North Carolina State, Georgia Tech and top-ranked Virginia.

"We don't have any more games we can give away," Hebron said. "We had it in the bag {against Temple} and we just let it go. Bad things happened once again."

Those bad things most often seem to occur in the fourth quarter, in which the Hokies have been outscored by 63-17. In the Hokies' four losses, their opponent has scored a late touchdown to win.