Hokies eager to use FedEx Field crowd to their advantage

BLACKSBURG, Va. — Virginia Tech linebacker Jack Tyler grew up cheering for the Washington Redskins. He regularly wears a burgundy Redskins T-shirt under his practice gear.

And after Washington won its season opener over the New Orleans Saints, behind a dazzling debut from rookie quarterback Robert Griffin III, Tyler joked that he was buying Super Bowl tickets.

Saturday, Tyler and the Hokies (3-1) will play in the Redskins‘ home stadium, FedEx Field in Landover, Md., against Cincinnati (2-0) at 3:30 p.m. This will be the team’s second trip this season to an NFL stadium.

“It’s what we all like to do,” Tyler said. “You want to play in front of the most people you can. Playing at FedEx Field, that’s going to be an awesome venue. It’s going to be loud.”

Mitch Gershman, chief marketing officer for the Redskins, said he expects a crowd of about 50,000 Saturday. Russ Potts, the former Southern Methodist athletic director whose company is promoting the game, thinks it could be closer to 55,000.

One thing they agree on, despite the official designation of a Cincinnati home game, the Hokies will have more of the crowd on their side.

“The vast majority of fans in the stadium, we expect to be Virginia Tech fans,” Gershman said.

Cincinnati coach Butch Jones said that’s something he’s preparing his team for.

“Even though, technically, it’s a home game for us, we’re treating it as a road game,” Jones said.

And the Hokies might need that support, Tech coach Frank Beamer said. He’s been featured in radio ads the past few weeks drumming up ticket sales for the game.

“I’m just very hopeful that we’ll have a great turnout up there,” Beamer said. “We need their help. Trust me, against this crowd right here, we need all the help we can get, so I’m hopeful our fans will turn out.”

Tech has lost four straight games in NFL stadiums, including falling 35-17 to Pittsburgh at Heinz Field two weeks ago.

“I think it’s just coincidence,” junior quarterback Logan Thomas said. “I don’t think your game style should change anywhere you go. Football’s football. It doesn’t matter if you’re playing on a practice field or an NFL stadium. I couldn’t tell you what the reason was. I guess it’s just not good days for us at NFL stadiums.”

The Hokies are 12-18 at neutral sites under coach Frank Beamer and 10-20 under him in current NFL stadiums. That includes an 0-2 mark at FedEx Field, where Tech last played in 2010 when it lost to Boise State.

“That was my first college game participating in, so it was kind of tough the way we lost to Boise State,” cornerback Antone Exum, the former Deep Run standout, said. “But it was a good atmosphere, it was exciting to be there, especially with the Redskins playing at that stadium. Whenever you get to play in an NFL stadium it’s a good opportunity. Not everybody gets to do that.”

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