Virginia Tech addresses the motivation factor
One of the odd positives of starting a season off 0-2 is that seemingly every game going forward becomes a must-win situation. There really is no alternative, especially with a program like Virginia Tech where 10-win seasons are the norm.
That pride has been the defining characteristic of the eight game win streak the Hokies are riding into Saturday's game against Miami. The team made a vow to go undefeated once that debilitating loss to James Madison dropped the Hokies to 0-2 this season. So far, they've delivered.
Bu this weekend the Hokies not only control their own destiny in terms of winning the ACC's Coastal Division, they could even survive a loss against the Hurricanes and still advance to the conference's championship game with a win over Virginia next week.
Considering the Hurricanes season will be on the line, there is little doubt about motivation for them. The Hokies say the same is true for them, even if the stakes aren't quite as high.
"I think this team has been the most resilient team I’ve been around," tight end Andre Smith said. "We started off tough, probably the toughest start I’ve ever had, and for the team to come together and perform, we're still in pursuit of becoming the best team that we can become, especially this far into the season. So I don’t think we’re having trouble with [motivation]. We understand we’re not at our potential best … so there’s even more of that anxiety and pressure to become an even better team down the stretch."
Virginia Tech Coach Frank Beamer said the issue has been addressed this week in the build-up to the game. The primary message of his first meeting with the team on Monday centered on maintaining focus.
He emphasized the goals that still remain, like maintaining the program's streak of 10-win seasons or becoming the first ACC team since 2000 to finish undefeated in conference play. Beamer, though, simply hopes the sheer amount of talent Miami has at its disposal will be motivation enough.
“I think we have a lot of respect for Miami. As soon as you turn on that game video, you understand you gotta play a great football game," Beamer said. "I think the respect factor helps us play as well as we can play. You just understand this is a good football team, a talented football team. … I’d sure like to win this one this week and get our ticket to [the ACC Championship game]."
So too would the Hokies players, it seems. They've felt slighted since dropping from the national conscience in September. And while they won't openly admit it, that loss to James Madison still has some sting. That, more than any dislike or respect for Miami, remains the most definable motivating factor Saturday.
"We know we’ve got a tough team that’s gonna bring their 100," running back Darren Evans said. "We're gonna have to match it, and we won’t take it off because we’ve had that let down before. I know a lot of us still have a sour taste off that.”
Added cornerback Rashad Carmichael: "We’re gonna have to put our big boy pads on again this week. Miami’s gonna be ready.”
| November 18, 2010; 4:06 PM ET
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Posted by: Benson | November 18, 2010 11:21 PM | Report abuse