Virginia Tech will open its home Atlantic Coast Conference schedule when Wake Forest comes to town Saturday afternoon.
Veteran Wake Forest coach Jim Grobe is well aware of the challenge his team faces against the Hokies.
“From what I understand, that is a pretty tough place to play,” Grobe said. “Everybody I speak with talks about how impressive their stadium is and how hard it is to play because the crowd really gets into it."
It will also be a test for the Demon Deacons' freshman starting quarterback Tanner Price. The Austin, Texas, native follows in the footsteps of other great Westlake High School quarterbacks such as Drew Brees of the New Orleans Saints and Nick Foles of the University of Arizona.
“He’s a great kid, lot of ability,” said Tom Elrod, Wake Forest quarterbacks coach. “He played in a state championship game with about 30,000 people, so he’s going to be well-prepared.”
Grobe believes Price’s performance in the loss to Navy last week is a sign of the future.
"I hope it is,” Grobe said. “He played really well the other night. It will not be easy, but he certainly showed us what is possible, and that's encouraging out of a true freshman."
While his biography may list Price as a freshman, Tech defensive tackle John Graves will not be treating him like one.
“People might say he’s a freshman, but he’s not playing like a freshman,” Graves said. “He’s playing a lot better right now, and that’s probably one of the reasons why Wake Forest is deciding to go with him.”
Wake Forest will head into Saturday’s contest on a four-game losing streak, allowing more than 35 points per game.
"The team's doing okay,” said Matt Woodlief, senior linebacker. “We're trying to keep our heads up. We can't let one game bring us down for the rest of the season, and right now we're just getting ready for Virginia Tech."
Wake Forest’s last two losses in particular have been especially tough to swallow. After losing on a game-winning touchdown pass to ACC foe Georgia Tech, the Demon Deacons fell in similar fashion to Navy the following week.
Junior wide receiver Danny Dembry said there is only one thing the team can do when moving on from the heartbreaking losses.
"The coaches have encouraged us to put these last two losses behind us, especially after two tough losses in the 4th quarter,” Dembry said.
Despite Wake Forest’s record, Graves asserted it is still a talented team.
“They have a great, athletic offensive line,” Graves said. “They have great skill positions, and I think they’ve found a quarterback to settle down with now.”
Tech is 22-11-1 all-time against Wake Forest and 2-0 under coach Frank Beamer. The most recent meeting was in 2006, a 27-6 win for the Hokies in Winston-Salem.
“Wake Forest, I think they’re certainly better than their record,” Beamer said. “I think things are deceiving a little bit.”
Beamer also mentioned his close relationship with the Grobe family.
“(Jim) is a guy that if he tells you something, you can count on it,” Beamer said. “His wife Holly and my wife Cheryl are big buddies. I feel like we’re a lot the same.”
Tech beat Central Michigan last week 45-21 without converting a third down (0-8). It was the first time Tech didn’t convert a third down since 2003 in a 47-13 win over UConn. Part of that was attributed to the Hokies hitting big plays early in drives.