Even Virginia Tech Coach Frank Beamer conceded during his weekly teleconference Monday that the start of the Hokies’ 2012 season has been “disappointing.” With three losses in the past four games, Virginia Tech is now off to its worst start through six games since 1992.

But Beamer was not in excuse-making mode by any means. His focus this week remains squarely on what the future could hold.

“There’s a lot of football to be played,” he said. “If you live in the past, you’re not looking at what’s right in front of you, and right now Duke is right in front of us.”

The Blue Devils come to Blacksburg riding the program’s best start since 1994. At 5-1 overall, they are one of three ACC teams without a conference loss. And suddenly, in large part because of Virginia Tech’s lackluster play this season, the game carries plenty of weight when it comes to the Coastal Division race.

Duke has playmakers on both sides of the ball, with three receivers that have more than 35 catches this year, two quarterbacks that have led them to victory and a hard-hitting safety in Walt Canty, who picked up ACC player of the week honors after finishing with 14 tackles against the Cavaliers.

Senior quarterback Sean Renfree didn’t play in Duke’s victory over Virginia this past weekend because of an elbow injury. Back-up Anthony Boone threw four touchdowns in his place, after leading the Blue Devils in the fourth-quarter of their victory against Wake Forest two weekends ago.

But even though the Hokies are coming off a 48-34 loss at North Carolina that saw them set all kinds of ignominious defensive marks, Beamer insisted wholesale changes in the way he and the coaching staff operate are not on the way.

“We’ve had a lot of success for a lot of years, and I think what’s right about our program is there’s not much change in it,” he said. “I think the kids know what to expect. We’re not an up-and-down coaching staff.”

Like defensive coordinator Bud Foster said after the defeat, Beamer indicated the team’s defensive problems boil down to poor gap fits, maintaining leverage and terrible tackling. But Beamer said the Hokies would consider using its nickel package less frequently going forward because it takes them out of the blitz packages Foster hangs his hat on.

“I think our players have worked hard all year long and other than how we played up at Pittsburgh, I thought we played hard,” Beamer said. “We just haven’t always played well. There’s different reasons for that.

“We look to find the reasons why we didn’t win, and I think some of them are really obvious and get those things corrected and see if we can’t win the next one.”

Quick hitters

>> Virginia Tech announced Monday that back-up fullback Riley Beiro (McLean High) will have shoulder surgery Thursday and miss the rest of the season. Beamer said it had been a nagging injury, and Beiro aggravated it during Saturday’s loss at North Carolina.

Beamer added that running back Martin Scales will get work at fullback this week with Beiro out. In addition, wide receiver Dyrell Roberts (concussion), left guard David Wang (knee and ankle) and center/guard Caleb Farris (ankle) are expected to miss practice Monday and their status for Saturday’s game is up in the air at this point.

>> Offensively, Beamer came away impressed with quarterback Logan Thomas after he finished with a career-high 354 yards passing against the Tar Heels. “I think Logan battled in there and again, the consistency in how we performed around him, that’s the issue right now,” Beamer said.

>> The ACC announced Monday that Virginia Tech’s game at Clemson on Oct. 20 will be a noon kickoff on ABC, ESPN or ESPN2.