Hokies still have sights set on ACC championship

Hokies still have sights set on ACC championship
August 10, 2014, 8:15 am
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(Daniel Shirey-USA TODAY Sports)

With only 15 wins in the past two seasons, Frank Beamer finds himself in the unfamiliar position of having talk up the state of the program.

After eight-straight 10 win seasons, suddenly Virginia Tech’s record doesn’t speak for itself.

In 28 years, Frank Beamer turned Virginia Tech into one of the most consistently dominant teams in America. After two down years, some are beginning to doubt whether the Hokies are still that powerhouse team.

Beamer, however, believes much of the pessimism surrounding the Hokies is overblown.

“We’ve been one or two wins away, so it’s not like the bottom has fallen out here,” he said at Virginia Tech’s media day on Saturday.

While the perception is that Virginia Tech is backsliding, much of that is exaggerated by the heightened expectations brought on by Beamer’s consistent success. The Hokies still have kept their bowl streak intact and came within one game of playing for the ACC Championship both in 2012 and 2013.

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Virginia Tech also let winnable games slip away last season, losing to Duke, Boston College and Maryland all by narrow margins. Its those type of losses that have given the players a sense of purpose as they prepare for the upcoming season.

“Day by day, everyone was working together in practice,” said redshirt senior safety Detrick Bonner. “Then we carried that into the summer. We had seven-on-seven [passing drills] three times a week. We’ve been working together and getting that tight bond that the old teams had, stuff like that. We’re trying to bring back the tradition.”

It’s that tradition that saw Virginia Tech win four ACC championships since joining the league in 2004 and reach five ACC Championship Games since the conference split into two divisions in 2005.

Though the team has not won the division since 2011, Beamer made it clear he has not lowered his expectations for the team. The active FBS leader in wins has long considered Virginia Tech to be a national title contender and with the new College Football Playoff, Beamer sees a clear path to the title game.

“Our goals are to win the ACC championship,” he said, “And when you win that, now you’re definitely a player in the four-man field for the national championship. Now [winning the ACC] is a way to get to the national championship. So our deal is let’s win the ACC championship and then go to play for the national championship -- and win that.”

With the Coastal Division race expected to be wide open, the Hokies do seem to have a clear path to the ACC Championship game. Though Florida State looks to be head and shoulders above the rest of the conference, if the Coastal Division champs can knock off the reigning national champs, it would clearly propel them into the national conversation.

For the Hokies, returning to prominence will be difficult, but not impossible.

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