Wilson not letting fumbles get into his head
BLACKSBURG, Va. (AP)
The school's single-season and single-game rushing records. Twenty touchdowns, and at least one in every game. Averaging 6 yards per carry. All-ACC. All-American. Oh, and no fumbles.
The junior tailback ranks fourth in the country with an average of 131 yards rushing and is well on his way to reaching some of his goals, but he also enters Saturday's Coastal Division showdown at No. 24 Virginia with seven fumbles, losing four of four of them.
He's not concerned.
''I don't think about it. I'm not going to think about it. Fumbles happen. If you think about it, it's just going to get worse,'' Wilson said, looking ahead to the game that will decide whether the Hokies (10-1, 6-1 Atlantic Coast Conference) or Cavaliers (8-3, 5-2) play for the conference title.
''There's no trend,'' Wilson said. ''It's not like I'm holding the ball loose or anything. It's just they punch it right out. There's nothing I can do about it. It's just hold the ball and run.''
Coach Frank Beamer isn't admitting any concern, either.
''I think, No. 1, he's not a fumble guy. I think you've got to continue to talk about the fundamentals about carrying the ball, but I think the other side about him is he runs with such effort, and sometimes he gets in odd positions and so forth,'' Beamer said Tuesday, adding most of Wilson's recent fumbles have come when he didn't see the contact coming that caused it.
Wilson sets single-game goals, too, but fell short of them last Thursday night against North Carolina, when he fumbled, failed to run for 100 yards and failed to score a touchdown.
''That bothered me a lot,'' he said, ''so I'm going to let that build up inside me all week and go to UVa and handle business.''
The Cavaliers, bowl eligible for the first time, rank 28th nationally at stopping the run, allowing just over 123 yards per game. But they haven't faced a player like Wilson yet.
''He's definitely a unique player the way he's so fast and he's still so strong,'' Virginia defensive end Jake Snyder said. ''He runs so hard. It's tough to game plan for a guy like that, but basically we just have to do what we do, play our defense and hope we contain him.''
Wilson leads the nation with 18 runs of 20 yards or more.
''He's a pretty speedy guy, very shifty, all-around athlete,'' linebacker Aaron Taliferro said. ''From what I've seen, he's going to be the guy to watch out for.''
Taliferro is one of 31 fourth- or fifth-year seniors that will be honored before the game, and Wilson would love to quiet what he expects will be an especially hostile environment.
''I've played in more hostile environments than the one time I've been to UVa since I've been here,'' he said. ''But I'm pretty sure it's going to be pretty graphic going up there this week with so much at stake. In the past, their fans have been the way they are without their team being as successful. So for them to even have breath and knowing that their team has a chance to do great things this year, they'll step it up a notch, as well as their players on the field.''
It is, Wilson said, a phenomenon the Hokies have come to expect every week.
''When a team plays Virginia Tech, it's always like they become some newborn team that's all about making big plays and stuff,'' he said. ''If we execute the way we know we can, we should come out on a good note.''