Virginia Tech is still playing for a bowl game. The Hokies have to win two of their next three games to do so, but there's another motivating factor: pride.
The Hokies have plenty of other motivation, like playing a top-10 team in Florida State, at home, in primetime on Thursday night. That doesn't even include hosting in-state rival Virginia in the season finale.
But pride is a common sentiment coach Frank Beamer has told his players to play for. And they've bought in.
"Down there at Miami, it wasn't lack of effort that got us, it was just that we needed to play better and that's the bottom line," Beamer said today at his weekly press conference. "I went through about eight things with our team that we did down there, like the blocked kick and turning the ball over and so forth and it all gets back to us. It's stuff that we've gotta take care of. With our football team, the defense gives up a long play, the offense, we turn the ball over, special teams. It's a little bit here and a little bit there. It kinda goes back to, in my opinion, take care of the little things every day and all of a sudden you're playing consistent on Thursday night."
As he has during much of this season's struggles, Beamer reiterated that it's been 'little things' that have been the difference between the wins and losses. But those 'little things' have also brought the demise of the once-recognized brand of 'Beamerball' and special teams prowess.
Thursday's 30-12 loss at Miami was a good example. Two key plays in the game were a punt that freshman A.J. Hughes had blocked and an 81-yard kickoff return by the Hurricanes that set up a touchdown.
Beamer has told his players to practice the 'little things' off the field. He hopes that added attention to detail will transfer to games.
"That's our message, is do everything right and this thing will turn around," Beamer said. "You've heard us say it, but in a team game, everything has to click together. When it does, you get that momentum and all of a sudden you're making one good play and making another good play. When it's the other way, it seems like things just don't go your way. We've just gotta keep playing hard and get this thing going our way. It won't happen if you don't give great effort every single play and that's what it's gonna take."
It will also take a better effort from the coaches and everyone involved with the team. Beamer said he believes the blame is shared there as well.
"Anytime you don't have the success that you wanna have, you probably can find that everyone in the organization could have done something better to help the situation," he said. "That's how I feel, that I think all of us could have done something a little bit better."
It's hard to know if there's something that can spark Virginia Tech in its final three regular season games. But Beamer believes there's good reason to hope.
"When you get playing well and you get some momentum and you're making a play and then you make another play, here comes a turnover," he said. "When you're on the other side of that, everything's kind of a struggle. I personally believe if you just keep playing hard, then all of a sudden it's gonna turn around. I do believe we're a good football team, we just haven't always played well."
For a bowl game, the Hokies will have to play better than they have.