The Hokies rally around their young players
During the preseason, Coach Frank Beamer tried his best to balance Virginia Tech's lofty expectations with the fact that his defense would feature seven new starters and his travel roster would include 22 players who had never played a college football game before.
At ACC media day back in August, Beamer mentioned that when Virginia Tech agreed to play Boise State this season, "he didn't realize they'd have everyone coming back," He reiterated that point Wednesday after Virginia Tech's younger players made several mistakes in Monday's 33-30 loss.
"I don’t think there’s any question that this particular year you’d rather play Boise State later than early because of what we lost and what they didn’t," Beamer said, though he did acknowledge that the two schools agreed to move the game from early October to Labor Day weekend at the request of ESPN. Virginia Tech's athletic department was given a $2.35 million guarantee by the Redskins for traveling up to FedEx Field to take on the Broncos.
As expected, though, many of the questions at Wednesday's media session revolved on the mistakes made by the Hokies' least-experienced players. And for the most part, Virginia Tech's veterans circled the wagons, trying their best to deflect any individual criticism elsewhere.
Take, for instance, the roughing-the-kicker and personal foul penalties called on sophomore D.J. Coles after the Hokies forced Boise State to punt from its 48-yard line late in the first quarter. The two flags gave the Broncos a new set of downs on Virginia Tech's 32-yard-line and eventually resulted in tight end Tommy Gallarda's highlight-reel, one-handed touchdown catch.
“That was just D.J. playing hard," said redshirt junior wide receiver Danny Coale. "He was just going all out. He tried to block it and then he tried to get back and make some blocks. It was a physical game. I’m sure he’s not the only one out there on either side of the ball that might have had a late hit there. It’s just part of the game. He’s playing and he’s playing fast and you just try to get him to forget it and move on to the next one.”
Want to read something kind of similar? The stage is yours, Davon Morgan.
"I’m not mad at him for what he did, he was just trying to play football," the senior strong safety and special teamer said Wednesday. "Other than touching the punter, I would love to have him on my team any day, any down, no matter what. He was going hard, trying to make some blocks, trying to break [punt returner] Jayron [Hosley] free.”
Morgan was also asked about the performance of sophomore whip linebacker Jeron Gouveia-Winslow, who was in coverage for two touchdown catches by Boise State wide receiver Austin Pettis. Though Morgan is the starting strong safety, he's also been getting some reps in practice as a second-team whip linebacker.
Before the question was even asked, Morgan intimated he has no plans on switching positions unless an injury occurs. "Gouveia does a good job at whip, so he's gonna hold it down," he said.
"Whether it be young guys or old guys, we made the mistakes," Morgan said later. "Guys were trying to play fast and guys got out of their gaps at times. But I don’t look at it as if it was anything against those guys because of their age. They were trying to play fast, they were trying to do what they were supposed to do, they just didn’t take care of certain responsibilities, myself included."
As for Beamer, toward the end of his talk with reporters, he cringed a bit when asked if he regretted taking on Boise State so early in the season. After a long pause, he wouldn't give us reporters the answer we wanted to hear.
"I don’t regret," he said. "Boise State is a quality program, it was a great atmosphere, and we had a chance to win.”
September 9, 2010; 11:27 AM ET
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