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Hokies shift goals

After Virginia Tech defeated Cincinnati in the Orange Bowl in January, it was clear to see the Hokies’ potential in the 2009 season. With the core of the team intact, the Hokies were a top-10 team in the preseason poll and expectations ran high in Blacksburg.

Oh, how the outlook has changed. With their national title hopes dashed and their chance at an Atlantic Coast Conference championship slim, the Hokies are playing for pride.

“I think the motivation is to come out here so we don’t feel like this again,” linebacker Cody Grimm said, adding that it hurt to lose. “I don’t want to go out there and lose. Ten wins is good, but I hate to lose and I don’t want to feel like this again.”

The Hokies’ hopes were immediately dimmed after a season-opening loss to then-No. 5 Alabama. Yet they entered the national title conversation after climbing to fourth nationally through the first half of the season.

The second half of the year has not gotten off to a promising start.

A loss at Georgia Tech on Oct. 17 left Virginia Tech without control of its own fate. And on Thursday, the 20-17 loss to North Carolina has seemed to vanish any of its remaining hopes in the ACC. Now the Hokies seem bound for a second-tier bowl game.

After the game, Coach Frank Beamer was quick to remind that there is still plenty left to accomplish, citing a 10-win season that is still within Virginia Tech’s realm of possibility. As Beamer has said often, Virginia Tech is one of only three programs (with Southern California and Texas) to win at least 10 games in each of the last five years. Now Beamer is aiming for a sixth season.

“Ten wins is looked at as not very good,” Beamer said. “It could have been better, certainly, and I do think we’re a good football team. But you have to play every Saturday. I feel good about getting 10 wins. That means we’ve got to win the last four and win our bowl game.”

The No. 14 Hokies (5-3, 3-2 ACC) play at East Carolina (5-3, 4-1 Conference USA) next Thursday. Virginia Tech has three remaining conference games: Maryland, North Carolina State and Virginia.

By Mark Viera  |  October 31, 2009; 11:31 AM ET
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Frank Beamer needs to demand that OC Stinespring and the offense coaches to get a game plan that will score some points in the first half of these games. The strategy inside the opponents territory is soooo bad. VT was in the opponent's territory 8-9 times in the last two games in the first half and came away with 3 points. The offense this year is not being bailed out by the defense. It must help win some close games this year.

Posted by: peter777 | October 31, 2009 3:35 PM | Report abuse

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