Virginia Tech hopes to prove it can be elite again
Michael Brewer saw Virginia Tech as an elite program growing up.
The transfer from Texas Tech is now the Hokies’ starting quarterback, and he’ll have a chance to help show Virginia Tech is still an elite program on Saturday night when the Hokies take on No. 8 Ohio State at Ohio Stadium.
The Hokies are no stranger to the big stage, but have struggled to show they belong in recent years. Since winning 10 of 15 games against ranked opponents from 2008-11, they have lost six of the last seven.
Brewer figures they could change that in one night. The Buckeyes (1-0) have won 25 consecutive regular season games, longest in the nation, and 64 in a row at home against unranked non-conference foes.
“That would be huge,” he said. “It’s going to be a tough matchup. We know that going in, but I’m excited about the challenge and the task at hand. This is what college football is all about.”
The Hokies showed signs of more consistent offense in their 34-9 victory against William & Mary in the opener, with Brewer connecting on 23 of 30 passes for 251 yards with two touchdowns and an interception.
They also made plenty of correctable mistakes that kept them from doing much more, Brewer said.
“Being able to continuously move the ball forward and not shoot ourselves in the foot and move it backwards is going to be a big part of this game for us, as well as being opportunistic,” the redshirt junior said this week. “When there’s a chance to make a big play, we’ve got to make it.”
The meeting will be the first between the schools, and Buckeyes linebacker Darron Lee said seeing Brewer in the pocket will be a welcome relief for the defense after opening against Navy’s run game.
“I’m sure the D-line’s really happy that they get to pass rush now as opposed to taking on double-teams all day,” Lee said. “It’s a bit of relief, not so much a specific job description as it was for Navy.”
Hokies coach Frank Beamer, in his 28th season, has long believed that a team makes it largest improvement from week one to week two, and going from an FCS school to the Buckeyes requires it.
“Their defensive front, I’m not sure anybody’s better in the country,” Beamer said, adding that Ohio State, across its depth chart, “certainly has the talent of a national championship team.”
While the Hokies have had high profile early season games recent years against Alabama in 2009 and 2013 and third-ranked Boise State in 2010, some of the players will be new to the Saturday night stage.
Beamer hopes getting their jitters out against the Tribe will prove valuable.
“I think for a young team ... largest crowd we’ve ever played before, we’ll see how they respond,” he said. “But last week was a good opening game for them, and now this week it’s another step.”
Kendall Fuller knows the tradition as the youngest of four brothers to play for the Hokies, all during the period when they rose from also-ran status to one of the consistently elite teams in the nation.
The sophomore cornerback expects his teammates to be just as excited as he will be.
“It’s definitely going to be fun, something we’re all looking forward to, playing a team like that that’s been successful over the years with a great environment and great college atmosphere,” he said.