No. 15 Hokies not taking Austin Peay lightly
Virginia Tech isn't taking a mismatched opponent lightly - not even Austin Peay.
The No. 15 Hokies (1-0) have a short week after playing Georgia Tech on Monday night, and need think back only two years to the last time they played twice in six days: they lost to FCS-level James Madison.
That loss came after they also lost to Boise State the previous Monday. Despite winning this year's opener, the memory and lessons learned lingers for linebacker Bruce Taylor.
''We learned that we can't take your opponent lightly in any situation, no matter who you're playing, what week it is,'' he said. ''We just got to come out and work hard like we're playing Florida State or any other big school. We've got to treat it that way and approach it that way and things will work out for us.''
Austin Peay, located in Tennessee, comes from Frank Beamer's old stomping grounds, the Ohio Valley Conference. Beamer coached Murray State in the OVC for six years before coming to his alma mater.
Playing up, for an OVC school, is viewed as a huge opportunity, he said.
''When we were at Murray State and we went to play Memphis and tied them and we went to play Louisville and beat them,'' he recalled. ''So it's a matter of going out there. It's not a matter of what should happen; it's what does happen. So we've got to be ready to play a football game.''
Beamer gave the team Tuesday off, despite the short week, to rest, unlike two years ago when quarterback Logan Thomas remembers going through a short practice following the loss to Boise State.
''I think they want us to get our bodies fresh or refreshed because it was a very physical game Monday night. I think a lot of it relies on us and the way our mentality is is this is just one step on the path that we want,'' Thomas said of the Hokies, viewed by some as national championship contenders. ''We've got a chance to come up again on Saturday, just another person is in the way, so the workmanlike mentality that we have should be able to lead us right to where we want to be and be ready to go full go.''
On paper, the Governors don't appear likely to offer much resistance. They lost 49-10 to Western Kentucky in their opener, managing just two completions for 11 yards. Their only touchdown came on a 68-yard run by Wesley Kitts, and they managed just 164 yards of total offense with two turnovers.
And while Virginia Tech has finished its last 19 seasons in a bowl game, the Governors have managed only 18 winning seasons in 75 years, and last beat an FBS school in 1987 against Kansas State.
''I don't know who scheduled this game, but he needs to look himself in the mirror and talk to himself,'' Governors coach Rick Christophel, a former quarterback at Austin Peay, said jokingly this week.
The Hokies, who broke in two new running backs against the Yellow Jackets, used them only sparingly, and figure to give them a lot more work this week. Starter Michael Holmes had only 13 carries for 54 yards on Monday night, and freshman J.C. Coleman gained 25 yards on just four attempts.
The Hokies' offense stalled for much of the game against Georgia Tech, a 20-17 win in overtime. While the defense will go back to its conventional sets, Beamer always thinks the second game is where a team improves most.
''I think you've got a chance to get the most progress that you can make from the opening ballgame to the second ballgame, just because that's when you're keeping score and playing another opponent,'' he said.
''That's what we've really got to concentrate on is being a better football team this Saturday than we were Monday and becoming better. So that's what we're going to work at and talk about this week.''
It figures to be a game where the Hokies get to use a lot of young players.
And one where Christophel said, again jokingly, that he has one priority.
''Stay healthy,'' he said.