Like many around Blacksburg these days, Virginia Tech wide receiver Marcus Davis can’t explain why the Hokies have fallen on such hard times. With a 4-5 record and their string of 10-win seasons gone after beginning the year ranked No. 16, Davis said Monday in an interview that “it doesn’t feel real.”

But when asked how this team differed from the one that rebounded after starting 0-2 in 2010, the redshirt senior was reminded of a practice tirade by former cornerback Rashad Carmichael following Virginia Tech’s shocking loss to James Madison. Davis believes one of the main reasons these Hokies have struggled is due to the lack of a leader like that.

“Of course, we don’t have the same players, but at the same time, we don’t have the same attitude as we used to have,” Davis said. “Even [former quarterback Tyrod Taylor] wasn’t the most vocal person, but he’ll let you know: ‘Pick it up.’

“It’s just like we don’t have that or if somebody do try to do that, it’s like egos get in the way or ‘Why you coming at me like this?’ Or ‘why are you singling me out?’ Instead of, ‘Alright, I’m gonna pick it up.’ It’s not the same. I don’t know what it is, but it has to change.”

Virginia Tech enters a Thursday night showdown against No. 8 Florida State reeling after four losses in its past five games, needing two wins over the next three weeks just to become bowl eligible for the 20th straight season.

On Monday during his weekly teleconference with reporters, Coach Frank Beamer talked again of the “thin line” between a good season and one that is considered disappointing. But even he seems unable, or at least unwilling, to express just why a year that started with promise has spiraled to levels this program hasn’t seen in 20 years.

“We just haven’t played well enough,” Beamer said. “We’ve played some good teams that have played well against us and we didn’t play well enough. That’s kind of the bottom line. Again, I think everybody in our operation here could have done something better to help our football team.”

Davis pointed to the team’s inability to play well in all three phases of the game at the same time, and indicated a void in the team’s leadership was partly to blame.

“We have so many chances to win games that we don’t capitalize on, whether it’s offense or defense or special teams,” he said. “This year, we just haven’t been able to put all three of those things together, and it feels like once one thing breaks down, it’s like a domino effect. It all breaks down, and it just gets out of hand from there.”

Despite its below. 500 record, there is a possibility Virginia Tech could still qualify for the ACC championship game because Miami is now considering a self-imposed postseason ban once again this year. If the Hurricanes choose to go that route, only the Hokies, Georgia Tech and Duke would be eligible to represent the Coastal division in the league title game. Virginia Tech beat both earlier this season.

Davis said Monday the team is looking at Thursday’s game against the Seminoles as an opportunity to salvage the season. That, though, will be no easy task.

Florida State is No. 1 in the ACC this year in both total offense and total defense, with just a poor second half against North Carolina State separating the Seminoles from being in the national championship picture. Beamer even compared this year’s group to former Coach Bobby Bowden’s dominant teams from the ’90s and early 2000s, calling Florida State “about as good as it gets in college football.”

“We’re still gonna have our losses, but I think we just got to go out Thursday and just let it go,” Davis said. “The season hasn’t really been going our way. It just so happens this is our down year, but I’m not taking anything from that.”