It's been no secret that the road has not been kind to Virginia Tech this season. The Hokies have won all four of their games at Lane Stadium, but lost all four away, including a neutral site game against Cincinnati at FedEx Field in Maryland.
With four games left, answering why Virginia Tech has struggled so much on the road is a million-dollar question. Coach Frank Beamer said at today's weekly press conference that he has an idea what the culprit is, but not a definite answer.
"Trying to figure that out exactly, I think when you're a little bit of an inconsistent football team that can happen to you," he said. "When you play a team sport, where you're trying to get 22 (and ever-how many, 50, when you count all the special teams) guys playing at the same level. It just doesn't always work. But when it comes together, it does work. That's what I'm hoping is it all comes together at Miami."
Because of the Hurricanes' and Hokies' misfortunes, Thursday's game has the makings of a type of elimination game. The winner will be in good position to still claim the coastal division and play for the ACC championship, while the loser will have an even tougher climb.
It's almost the same for all of Virginia Tech's remaining games: win and there's still a very good chance to claim the division. The Hokies do hold the tie-breaker with Duke because of their victory Oct. 13.
"We've got everything, other than on the national level," Beamer said. "But we've got everything within the ACC to play for. But they do too. They're in the same boat as we are. Whoever wins this one definitely gets a leg up on the coastal division championship."
To work towards that championship, Virginia Tech has made some small adjustments. Senior Jeron Gouveia-Winslow has been moved from WHIP to safety, while senior wide receiver Corey Fuller and redshirt freshman Demitri Knowles have been named co-No. 1s with senior Marcus Davis and junior Dyrell Roberts.
"I think there's a possibility that we're playing some guys too much and we want good competition," Beamer said. "We wanna get Knowles in the ball game because I think he can do things. Corey Fuller has been very good all year long. He's been exceptional. I think we're trying to have a fresh receiver in the ball game and have good competition at that wide receiver position because competition makes everyone better."
The Hokies could also get a boost against a Miami run-defense that's struggled at times. The Hurricanes held Boston College to 96 yards rushing in the season-opener, but since then have given up no fewer than 218 yards rushing in a game. FCS-member Bethune-Cookman rushed for 233 yards in a 38-10 loss.
"They've got some young people there and that leads to inconsistent play," Beamer said. "But what I see, really, is that they've gotten better as you should throughout the year. I thought they did a really good job against Florida State. I think it's a young group, that's athletic, that's got talent, that has improved and they play hard. That's the way you get better, by playing with great effort and they're doing that."
A win Thursday wouldn't make up for the road woes this season. But it would finally put Virginia Tech over the hump a bit and give the Hokies a push towards still playing in the ACC championship game in Charlotte.
"Some of it's youth, some of it is just that we should be better," Beamer said. "That to me, you learn from those things. Coaching is you take what you got and you get better. I'm hopeful that we're gonna be a better football team here Thursday than we've been at any point in the season. I think it's gonna take that to win at Miami. I'm hoping that we've learned from some things and gotten better from it.
"I don't want it to sound like I'm making excuses here and there, it's just, I think it's facts. We've done some uncharacteristic things that don't normally happen to a Virginia Tech football team."