The Virginia Tech football team has long enjoyed success on the road as it boasts an impressive 27-6 ACC road-game winning record.
It even recently possessed the nation’s best road-game winning streak with 13-straight true road-game wins.
This season, however, has brought many changes for the Hokies in all facets of the game, and their road record is no exception.
Tech recently had its road-game winning streak snapped in an ugly fashion at Pittsburgh; following that, Cincinnati rubbed salt in the wounds at FedEx, and UNC was not fazed by the Hokies' dominant ACC road record as it sent Tech home packing.
It seems the winds that once favored the Hokies' course away from home have turned against them as they now sit 0-3 in road games entering the dangerous venue of Death Valley, where the Clemson Tigers will look to sink any hopes Tech has of ending their away-game woes.
Wide receiver Marcus Davis knows the home crowd helps out, but isn’t quite sure where the recent struggles on the road come from.
“I don’t really know what it is to be honest,” Davis said. “Of course, when you are at home there is more of a comfort level because we’re in front of our own fans and you know they’re cheering for us, but there’s not really one thing I could put my finger on. Usually in the past, we’ve been good both home and away, so I just can’t quite put my finger on it right now.”
Trouble on the road shouldn’t be an issue for the Hokies, but it’s clear they seem to feed off the energy of the home crowd in Lane Stadium and lose that spark when they travel to opposing venues. Linebacker Bruce Taylor, leader of the defense, thinks the difference in play could be a result of how young much of the team is.
“You just have to realize there’s no difference,” Taylor said. “There shouldn’t be a difference in how we play or how we prepare for a game just because we’re on the road. I feel like that’s something that comes with maturity —something that this team needs to build, especially for the future.
“We’re kind of young right now, at a lot of positions, so I think that’s why there’s been such a difference in the home and away games, but guys got to learn, right now, that it’s not about where you play, or who you play, it’s about how you play, and how you play should not be affected by whether you are home, or away, or wherever.”
Some players, like offensive guard Matt Arkema, echo Taylor’s sentiment when it comes to locking down their focus and blocking out the rest.
“Honestly, I’m just focused on the game,” Arkema said. “I kind of zone out and just focus on what’s going on in the game. I’ve got enough to keep me busy with my assignments and everything.”