“I think you can ask anybody,” Thomas said. “It’s much easier to play when it’s a full stadium, when you’ve got a bunch of fans either cheering for you or cheering against you. That’s just the nature of college football. That’s what you grew up watching and that’s kind of what puts the chill bumps on you, gets you going. It’s tougher to play at a place where it’s not full; it’s not packed; but you have to change your mindset and you have to get yourself going.”
The Hokies struggled to come alive at Pittsburgh in what looked and felt more like a spring game with mostly empty seats and a subdued atmosphere.
The last time the Hokies played at FedEx Field against Boise State, a near-sellout crowd was there to cheer the Hokies on, turning the venue into a virtual Lane Stadium. That may not be the case this Saturday as ticket sales for the matchup have struggled, most likely due to initially high ticket prices.
But the Hokie faithful are known for traveling well regardless.
“I really like our fans,” Miller said. “There’s no better feeling than playing in Lane Stadium. We have a great set of fans and I’m sure a lot of them are going to travel up there and give us support.”
Tech fans are also known for bringing the noise.
“I think it’s going to be a good turn-out,” Roberts said. “Hokie fans travel well and every game we go to they stick behind us. I don’t really know about Cincinnati fans or how many they’re bringing, but I think the stadium should be fairly packed and it should be loud out there.”
One of the last factors to be considered when playing at NFL stadiums is the travel arrangements for coaches and players. Playing high-profile teams in high-profile locations often spells changes in routine with regards to practicing, transportation, hotels and curfews.
But the big-city venues don’t seem to change as much as one might think when it comes to the Hokies routine.
“Coach Beamer likes to keep it the same,” Miller said. “We have the same routine with practice, getting on the bus and going to the hotel and things like that.”
It seems that the only differences for the Hokies between pro and college stadiums lays with the level of competition and the crowd turn-out. Tech will certainly have its hands full with the likes of Cincinnati; but the coaches and players are confident that the Hokie faithful will once again turn FedEx into a virtual Lane Stadium and overshadow any pro-stadium talk.
This Saturday, Tech fans everywhere are hoping that the NFL stadium losing streak merely is just a coincidence and will be rooting for the Hokies to shove the latest bogeyman back in the closet.