Virginia Tech’s first foray into Atlantic Coast Conference play didn’t go so well.
The No. 16 Hokies (4-1, 0-1 ACC) fell behind 24-3 against No. 2 Clemson on the way to a 31-17 loss .
This week, they will try to get back to their winning ways on the road at Boston College (2-3, 0-2), one of the more unique programs in the conference.
The Eagles typically focus on running the ball behind a huge line and having a defense geared to stopping the run. It’s a formula that defensive coordinator Bud Foster said has often given Virginia Tech fits.
“I see them just each week getting better and getting back into what they want to do,” Foster said Tuesday, speaking of the Eagles’ focus on their ground game. “… You see them wanting to do that, and be patient enough to line up and hit you in the mouth play after play after play, and see if you’re tough enough to handle it.”
The Hokies have won seven of the last nine meetings with their old Big East rivals, including 49-0 last year at Lane Stadium. They also are 3-1 in their last four visits to Chestnut Hill, Massachusetts, but last year’s wipeout was an anomaly. The games are typically close.
Eagles coach Steve Addazio, perhaps understandably, isn’t spending too much time thinking about last year.
“Every loss stings. We went down there in a pretty hostile environment, and we got beat. A lot of people got beat,” he said. “Do I think you sit there and dwell on a game? No. I mean it is what it is. And you move forward. We’ve beaten them two out of four years.”
The meeting with Clemson, a rematch of last year’s ACC championship game, came with a huge buildup in Blacksburg, Virginia, the kind that can sometimes leave a team wallowing after not only losing, but not making the competitive showing they had hoped.
But Hokies coaches say they have seen none of that self-pity since the team got back to work Sunday.
“I think our kids understand the challenges in front of them. You know, none of them are happy about what happened,” coach Justin Fuente said. “My message was don’t even walk in here feeling sorry for yourself. Nobody’s going to feel sorry for us and it’s up to us to change the situation we’re in.”
That situation now surely includes hoping for another shot at the defending national champion Tigers in the ACC championship, and to do that, the Hokies don’t appear to have much margin for error. Georgia Tech is 2-0 in the Coastal Division and will play host to the Hokies on Nov. 11. A week earlier, the Hokies visit Miami, another old Big East rival. The 13th-ranked Hurricanes are 1-0 in league play.
“You kind of find out a little bit about yourself when you have a setback, a little bit of adversity, and our kids have always responded to that situation,” Foster said. “And we’re going to have to this week, because we’ve got a team in BC that probably feels like they have to win, but in some sense, I feel like we do to stay in the hunt when it’s all said and done. But that’s really not the focus. The focus is to go 1-0.”
By HANK KURZ Jr., AP Sports Writer