And a better football team is exactly what fans of the program want. Especially after a season that ended the longest consecutive 10-win season streak in the country.
But that’s the past. And the Hokies are doing nothing but looking forward.
“This is one of the best summers we’ve all been through. We’re really working hard,” said starting left guard Caleb Farris. “We’ve worked a lot independently on our own without the coaches to learn the offense and be ready to roll.”
In addition to a more productive offseason, the Hokies have a couple other factors, some tangible, some not, which could be in their favor heading into the Georgia Dome.
One of the most notable is capitalizing on the element of surprise.
Following Tech’s new offensive coordinator, Scot Loeffler, to campus is a new offense scheme. Because of that, both he and Frank Beamer are limiting the amount of information and video that is getting out.
“Looking at our offensive film from last year won’t serve (Alabama) a big purpose, other than personnel,” Frank Beamer said. “We need to try and use every advantage we’ve got.”
Another tactic, employed more by players than coaches, is to try and psych themselves up for the game.
“I don't think (Alabama is) thinking about us too much, honestly,” Farris said.
When James Gayle was asked how he felt about Alabama getting all the attention, the senior defensive end had to censor his first reaction.
“I’m tired of it,” Gayle said. “We’re a good team also. But they’re coming off a strength season last year. With the national championship, so respect should be given. I just don’t feel like we’re getting much on our end.
“It definitely motivates us,” Gayle said. “We’re not a slouch ourselves. We had a down season last year but we’re still Virginia Tech.”
Whether the Tide are truly overlooking the Hokies or not, Tech looks to use every trick they’ve got on Saturday — psychological or otherwise.
The Hokies have been tossed in the deep end.
Now they have to learn how to swim.