Hokies look to make corrections before trip to Notre Dame
Virginia Tech failed in its first bid to lock up the ACC's Coast Division title, and now will have to wait two weeks for a chance to try again.
Right now, the Hokies' focus is on preparing to play at Notre Dame on Saturday.
''We've got to turn the page, just like we talked about when we win ballgames, draw the focus inward and try and get this football team better,'' Hokies coach Justin Fuente said Monday. ''It kind of highlights the slim margin between victory and defeat when you look at the league and the teams that are playing each other.''
The Hokies (7-3, 5-2 Atlantic Coast Conference) helped with one of their worst performances of the season in a 30-20 loss to the Yellow Jackets . Jerod Evans threw for one touchdown and ran for two more, but the last two came in the final five minutes with Virginia Tech trying to erase a 30-7 deficit. Evans also threw two interceptions, doubling his total for the season, as the Hokies had four turnovers.
''We made obviously too many mistakes and they made plenty enough plays to beat us,'' Fuente said.
Virginia Tech could have clinched the Coastal Division with a victory on Saturday, but the Hokies and North Carolina both face non-conference game this weekend - the Tar Heels play The Citadel. North Carolina finishes the season against rival North Carolina State in two weeks, and Virginia Tech wraps up versus Virginia. The Hokies hold the tie-breaker should the teams finish tied thanks to a 34-3 win at Chapel Hill earlier this season.
Notre Dame (4-6) that needs to win its last two games to become bowl-eligible.
Fullback Sam Rogers believes a week of focus will get the Hokies back on track.
''We just have to do better at all positions,'' he said. ''There's no one person or anything like that. We just all have to look ourselves in the mirror and see what we got to do better and do that. And just really take a self-check and realize what we've got to do moving forward and we'll do better. I'm very confident in that.''
Wide receiver Isaiah Ford agrees, adding the Hokies got ''outplayed'' by Georgia Tech.
''I think it's just us,'' said Ford, the Hokies' leader with 58 catches and career leader with 24 touchdown receptions. ''We like to say that everything falls back on us. How we play will determine the outcome.''
The loss was the second head-scratcher for Virginia Tech this season, and each has knocked them out of the Top 25 . They rose to as high as 17th before a 31-17 loss at Syracuse in mid-October, and had climbed back to 18th before allowing the surging Yellow Jackets to strafe their defense for 309 rushing yards at Lane Stadium.
And the Yellow Jackets did it without injured starting quarterback Justin Thomas and suspended top rusher Dedrick Mills. Marcus Marshall ran for 143 yards and a score, and QB Matthew Jordan ran for 121 yards and two TDs.
The Notre Dame game seems to come at odd time in Virginia Tech's schedule.
However the pause in the battle for the Coastal Division title gives the Hokies an opportunity to get things straight before the critical finale.
''It falls at a time when we can really just focus on getting better right now,'' Rogers said. ''We know we didn't play well last week and we didn't deserve to win the Coastal championship last week, but we still have an opportunity so right now we just have to focus on getting better. It falls at a perfect time. This week the main focus is just, let's just get better at what we do so we can have those opportunities later in the year.''
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