Hokies haven't forgotten 2009 loss to Tar Heels
Danny Coale and his Virginia Tech teammates remember well the last time they played North Carolina on a Thursday night at home.
The Tar Heels walked away with a 20-17 victory.
''You always remember the losses more than you remember the wins, I think,'' Coale said Tuesday, recalling that the Hokies had lost the previous Thursday night at Georgia Tech.
''Coming back here and losing to North Carolina in back-to-back weeks, that was something I won't forget, and it stayed in the back of your mind as motivation,'' he said.
The No. 10 Hokies (9-1, 5-1 Atlantic Coast Conference) have historically been dominant in the Thursday night spotlight, winning 18 of 23 games. This time, there's even more on the line.
A victory would give Virginia Tech 10 wins for the eighth consecutive season, the longest streak in the country. The Hokies would also move one step closer to winning the Coastal Division for the fourth time in the past five years and the fifth time since the game was started in 2005.
It's also the last home game for Coale and 10 other starters or top reserves, and he'd like to avoid walking off the field disappointed like he did after that game in 2009.
''They know what it was like to lose on a Thursday night here,'' Coale said of his teammates. ''So we're going to expect their best football. They're playing better than a 6-4 team, 2-4 in the ACC. They have a lot of talent. Their front's pretty impressive on the defensive side along with their secondary.
''They have a lot of talent, and we're expecting their best shot.''
As for his own emotions, Coale usually does a good job of holding his emotions in check, but he said the last game before the Hokies fans might challenge that composure a bit.
''I've tried to put it off here as the days'' have gone by, he said. ''Three months ago, this day was pretty far away. But it's going to be a special moment. As a senior class, we've had a lot of special moments inside that stadium and with those fans. And knowing it's your last one, I'm going to try to enjoy every moment of it, from the pregame warmup, every moment of the game.
''It's probably something that won't hit me until afterwards when you see the stadium empty and your last game has been played. This whole community's been so special to us as a class and to me. I'm just looking forward to going out and playing my hardest one more time.''
The Tar Heels (6-4, 2-4) have the added bonus of coming off a bye week that allowed players to rest, chief among them quarterback Bryn Renner, one of the nation's top passers.
''I think we just want to play the best we can play,'' Renner said, declaring himself 100 percent healed from a concussion that knocked him out of the Tar Heels' 13-0 loss to N.C. State.
''We're really just looking forward to, after the week off, regrouping and just put all the pieces together and play a good game, play a solid game and play how we can play,'' Renner said.
''We can really make a turnaround Thursday night.''
The Tar Heels will draw from having won at Lane Stadium on the same stage two years ago, but interim head coach Everett Withers said there's a limit to how much confidence that provides.
''Each team's different,'' Withers said. ''We will take some of those experiences from some of the guys that have been there and done it up there, but at lot of these guys haven't.''