Virginia Tech Coach Frank Beamer began his weekly news conference Monday by clearing up any confusion over whether the Hokies remembered how they performed in 2012 against North Carolina, the team they face this week at Lane Stadium.
Within three minutes, Beamer had described Virginia Tech’s 48-34 loss to the Tar Heels a year ago as “a pounding,” “a tail pounding” and “a hammer job,” in separate answers. He wanted to make sure nobody overlooks North Carolina, even though it is coming off a 55-31 loss to East Carolina, a program the Hokies beat earlier this month, 15-10.
But minutes before Beamer spoke with reporters, quarterback Logan Thomas came to the podium wearing a walking boot and showed the confidence a few close wins can give a team that finished with a 7-6 record a season earlier. He declared these Hokies already have proven to be different than the group that left Chapel Hill, N.C. embarrassed last October.
“I think when things got tough last year, we just kind of started becoming individuals and this year we’ve stuck together as a group and as a team,” Thomas said. “When things get tough, we’ve just been able to rely on each other to get us out of jams.”
Thomas speaks from experience.
He admitted after Virginia Tech’s 17-10 win at Georgia Tech last Thursday that an abdominal strain suffered before the Hokies’ win over Marshall had prevented him from throwing a pass in practice all week. He then sprained his foot in the first quarter against the Yellow Jackets, planting oddly on it, “which made it kind of pop,” Thomas said Monday.
Nonetheless, the redshirt senior finished with 279 total yards on a night when the Hokies finished with 276 total. It was also the second-most accurate performance of his career throwing the ball (19 of 25 for 221 yards and one touchdown).
Thomas insisted he would be fine and that the walking boot is for precautionary reasons. He noted the abdomen injury is causing him more discomfort.
“Everything I’ve done has been to myself. It hasn’t been anybody doing anything to me,” Thomas said. “Maybe I’m just getting old.”
But after being asked to carry the ball 39 times the past two games, and the fact that Thomas is down to 245 pounds after losing 15 pounds during the offseason, it remains to be seen how his body holds up. Virginia Tech’s tailbacks combined for minus-1 yard on eight carries Thursday night.
“He fits toughness to a T,” Beamer said of Thomas. “You’d like to run some other guys a little more and him a little less, but right now you just take what you have and try to build on it and do what you think is good for your football team.”
Thomas wasn’t the only player banged up after facing Georgia Tech, and an extra weekend of rest likely will pay dividends since the Hokies just finished a stretch of three games in 12 days.
Beamer said Monday that wide receiver Willie Byrn, who played the second half of Thursday’s game despite suffering an MCL sprain before halftime, “is a little gimpy right now.” He also revealed that center David Wang, who left Thursday night’s game briefly only to return later, had to snap the ball with his opposite hand due to a shoulder injury.
“I’ve got a bunch of tough guy stories for ya’, and I like that,” Beamer said.
Note: Virginia Tech had three players honored by the ACC on Monday for their play at Georgia Tech. Senior defensive tackle Derrick Hopkins was named the league’s defensive lineman of the week after finishing with a team-high seven tackles, including a couple key stops in the fourth quarter. Senior right guard Andrew Miller earned offensive lineman of the week honors for posting 11 pancake blocks against the Yellow Jackets.
Freshman cornerback Brandon Facyson shared the co-rookie of the week award with Miami’s Stacy Coley for forcing a fumble and snagging his fourth interception of the year Thursday night. Through five games, Facyson has already tied the freshman record for most interceptions in program history.