- The Washington Times - Wednesday, October 31, 2001

BLACKSBURG, Va. Chad Beasley said he's ready. So are Andre Davis and Grant Noel. And if Pittsburgh wanted to play right now, Jarrett Ferguson would be in the locker room strapping on his pads.

The past few days have been a different world for the Hokies, whose championship hopes died last week after losing 22-14 to No. 19 Syracuse.

The swagger is gone. And after dropping to No. 12, more questions seem to be swirling about Virginia Tech (6-1, 3-1 Big East) than at any other time this year.

How easy were those first six games? Can the Hokies beat a high-caliber team? Is the offense good enough to come back from a major deficit?

The only way to know for sure is to get back on the field, Beasley said. "Some of us have a real bad taste in our mouths right now."

A dejected-looking Noel, who was sacked five times last week, said he doesn't pay much attention to the criticism he's gotten from fans calling into radio shows or Internet chat rooms.

"I kind of laugh," Noel said quietly. "The world hasn't ended for me."

Davis and Ferguson, both seniors, said they now realize that veterans on the team can no longer expect to lead by example only.

"During the game, a lot of us weren't stepping up to our leadership roles," Davis said. "A lot of us were sort of thinking to themselves instead of making things vocal to the team."

The Hokies began practice yesterday, trying to shake off their first home loss since 1998. On Saturday, they head to Pittsburgh, another team that seems to be hitting its stride as it meets the Hokies.

"I'm not assuming we're going to come back from this" loss, said Hokies coach Frank Beamer.


Frank Beamer said he doesn't want to make a big deal out of it, but a lollipop found on the field during the Syracuse game still mystifies him.

"We saw the kicker [Colin Barber] picking something up from the turf after he kicked the ball," Beamer said. "That's unusual. You don't need anything to kick the ball."

Barber made two field goals in the game, including a 45-yarder that gave the Orangemen a 20-7 lead with 12:25 remaining.

Defensive coordinator Bud Foster later trotted out on the field and found a butterscotch Dum-Dum where the ball had been spotted.

Carter Warley said it's an old kicker's trick: When the ball is spotted in some areas, a kicker uses a stick or something else to show him at what angle to kick the ball.

Beamer said he doesn't plan on disputing the game because of the lollipop.

"I would never accuse Paul Pasqualoni of doing something that wasn't right we're too good of friends," Beamer said of Syracuse's coach. "But I do think kickers do those things."

Davis back in stride

If Andre Davis was healthy last season, he said he "definitely would have considered" entering the NFL draft with Michael Vick.

Davis had been Vick's favorite target, catching 35 passes for 962 yards and nine touchdowns in 1999 and establishing himself as one of college football's top deep threats and punt returners.

Davis returned three punts for touchdowns last season, even though an ankle injury slowed him or kept him on the sidelines for much of the season.

"Any team that picked me would not have been able to work me out," Davis said in explaining why he decided to return for this season. "That would have given other people a chance to better their position while I was just working off a game tape."

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