If more Tech fans listened to local Green Bay sports radio, maybe Willie Byrn wouldn’t have to deliver the same reassuring message that Aaron Rodgers dropped on Packers fans in late September.
While Rodgers spelled it out fans of the then-1-2 Packers, Byrn opted to use his words to let Tech fans know the recent struggles aren’t a sign of the apocalypse.
“I was just as excited and just as eager to play Thursday as all the fans were and we let them down, and they left early and everything like that,” the senior wide receiver said. “But it’s not the end of the world. Virginia Tech football is going to go on. We’re going to win games.”
For a program that has traditionally been treated to success, and a team that experienced an early-season win over a top-ten Ohio State team, fan expectations – reasonably or not – were high.
Byrn, head coach Frank Beamer and the rest of the Hokies are not satisfied with the 4-4 record they own. But they aren’t blown away by it, either.
From the season’s onset, Beamer forecasted some rough waters with his team.
“I said from the very beginning that we were going to go through some growing pains, and we are,” Beamer said at his press conference Monday. “Now we’re far enough along, as I said, that there needs to be less growing pains.”
“But as I told you from the very beginning, I think we’ve got some really good offensive skill people that are freshmen – all our touchdowns for the most part have been scored by freshmen. I think our skill level is good, and with some experience we’re going to be a really good football team. But starting out this year, I told you, we were going to grow through some growing pains.”
Offensive coordinator Scot Loeffler knew a win over Ohio State on the road didn’t mean the offense was where it needed to be. There would be more rough waters, more growing pains. When Loeffler was asked on Tuesday if he expected fewer “consistency” issues, he said he didn’t.
“Not with all the youth,” Tech’s second-year play-caller said. “Not with all the youth.”
And, according to defensive coordinator Bud Foster, the youth has factored in more ways than one.
“You got a lot of young guys,” Foster said. “You got a lot of young guys that in my opinion are playing not to screw up rather than to go play fast and make things happen on all sides. You can’t play that way. You got to go play to be a factor in the game, and we’ve done that for the most part.”
To players and coaches, whether or not anyone saw the team at 4-4 eight games through the year, needing a pair of wins in the final four games to extend the bowl streak to 22 does not matter – it’s where they go from here.
“Right now we’re talking about being focused on one day at a time,” quarterback Michael Brewer said. “(Tuesday), our first goal this week was to have a good Tuesday practice. We had a good Tuesday practice. (Wednesday) our goal will be to have an even better Wednesday practice and continue doing that throughout the week. Just cancelling out all outside distractions and focusing on that one day with the task at hand.”
“At the end of the day you’ve got to worry about what you can control,” Loeffler said. “You’ve got to try to get better, you’ve got to try to encourage your kids that at the end of the day we’re going to improve and there’s light at the end of the tunnel.”