- The Washington Times - Wednesday, September 30, 2009

BLACKSBURG, Va. | Virginia Tech overcame a loss to No. 3 Alabama in its opener and has managed to come out of a tough early schedule with a 3-1 record and the No. 6 ranking.

So maybe the Hokies finally can exhale at struggling Duke on Saturday.

Not going to happen.

Coach Frank Beamer and several players remember how the heavily favored Hokies had to fight last year to beat the Blue Devils 14-3.

“I just think about last year, to be honest,” Hokies tailback Ryan Williams said Tuesday.

“Last year in the fourth quarter, the score was 7-3. … I know they’re capable of coming in to try to win the game just like they did last year. I can’t really underestimate the team or the program or the players at all. They were very close to beating us last year.”

After struggling in all three phases of the game against Alabama and No. 23 Nebraska, the Hokies appeared to put it all together against No. 17 Miami on Saturday. They ran for 272 yards, held the Hurricanes to 209 total yards and scored a touchdown on a blocked punt.

With Blacksburg still buzzing over Virginia Tech’s 31-7 thrashing of the favored Hurricanes, Beamer tried to ground his team with research about teams losing after big wins:

BYU beat Oklahoma to get to No. 7, then lost to Florida State.

Florida State beat BYU, then lost to South Florida.

Southern Cal beat Ohio State to get to No. 3, then lost to Washington.

Washington beat Southern Cal, then lost to Stanford.

Oklahoma State beat Georgia to get to No. 5, then lost to Houston.

Throw in a quick film review of Duke’s visit to Lane Stadium last season, when the Hokies turned the ball over five times and needed a 23-yard interception return touchdown with 1:23 to play to go comfortably ahead, and the players sound like they’ve gotten the message.

“Take a look at Cal and Oregon and see how that turned out,” center Beau Warren said, referring to the then-unranked Ducks’ 42-3 victory against the No. 6 Bears. “It doesn’t matter if you’re ranked or not.”

Linebacker Cody Grimm said the Hokies can use themselves as an example, too.

“We weren’t even supposed to win the past two games,” he said, referring to victories against the Cornhuskers and No. 17 Miami at Lane Stadium. “There’s just so much on the line that you can’t let down because the other team has good athletes that will beat you.”

In Durham, N.C., Blue Devils coach David Cutcliffe is preparing his team for its toughest opponent, one he described as “Beamerball Plus” because the offense looks more balanced.

“I think they look a little faster on defense than they did,” he said. “Offensively, they’re just balanced - they can run it, they can throw it. They’re running some option. They’re spreading the field. They’re making you defend more things offensively. And then they’ve got that same kicking game. So I think they’re kind of Beamerball Plus.”

That plus might as well be experience, Williams said, because watching from the sideline last year taught him all he needed to know about being ready to play against every opponent.

“Last year on paper and on film and just the program itself, we were the better team, but they came in here and showed that they were able to play with us through the whole game,” he said. “It just proves that anything can happen and it doesn’t matter what you do in the previous games or what you’ve done in the years before or how the program was years before.

“You have to go out there and play and execute on every play.”

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