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Virginia Tech Football Notebook: Hokies look to get back on track at Homecoming

Chris Graham
virginia tech football entrance
Photo courtesy Virginia Tech Athletics.

Virginia Tech is a seven-point home underdog to a Miami team with a losing record. Hokies first-year coach Brent Pry, whose team is coming in on a three-game losing streak, doesn’t want to hear about “additional pressure” to come out with the win.

“We don’t talk that way with the guys. We usually discuss how it’s a new week to improve as a team, improve individually and improve as a staff. That’s the outlook,” Pry said.

Tech (2-4, 1-2 ACC) did make some marginal improvements last week. After scoring 10 points in back-to-back losses to West Virginia and North Carolina, the Hokies put up 403 yards in a 45-29 loss at Pitt, which needed two fourth-quarter scores to pull away.

“I talked to the coaches and the players on Sunday about the lessons learned,” Pry said. “The lessons are, laying the foundation, week in, week out. We must maximize the things we are learning and make sure they become part of our fabric. I think there’s a level of excitement with Miami coming to town, with it being a home game, big crowd and Homecoming. There’s a level of excitement that I think our guys are looking forward to.”

The challenge: Miami QB Van Dyke

Miami QB Tyler Van Dyke was expected to be among the nation’s elite after passing for 2,931 yards, 25 TD, just six INTs and a 160.1 efficiency rating in his first year as a starter in 2021.

He’d put up pretty pedestrian numbers as a sophomore until a breakout game last week in Miami’s 27-24 loss at North Carolina – going 42-of-57 for 496 yards, three TDs and one INT.

Pry, who was the defensive coordinator at Penn State before taking the head job at Virginia Tech, was asked this week what he has seen on tape that had worked to keep Van Dyke in check previously.

“It’s been some pressure and some coverage change up,” Pry said. “People have gotten after him a little bit, but they’re throwing it 50 times a game. But with them throwing it enough, it can make some things happen. They got a nice group of wideouts.”

Persevering through a tough season

Defensive tackle Jaylen Griffin had to undergo surgery to repair a torn labrum, then extensive rehab in the offseason to be able to return to the field for a fifth season.

“It was hard. It was mentally hard getting through labrum surgery. I had a few rough patches. I know it was rough. My folks prayed about it, and I decided to come back. I’m blessed to be here,” said Griffin, who has been on the field for 221 snaps through six games in 2022, with 16 tackles and nine QB pressures from the interior.

No doubt he didn’t want to return for one more season and have it go the way it has for the team, which has struggled through a 2-4 start.

“I’ve seen throughout all this chaos, we all still manage to stick together, we managed to stay tight,” Griffin said. “In the past, that has not always been the case, but we’ve been sticking together. We’re close and we’re seeing it. It’s kind of frustrating that we know what we could have, but we’ve just got to execute plays and execute when your number is called.”

Prioleau to wear No. 25

P.J. Prioleau was told in a team meeting on Thursday that he had been picked to wear the No. 25 jersey on Saturday.

Prioleau will wear the jersey number of legendary Tech head coach Frank Beamer for the first time of his career.

“I’m thankful to the coaching staff for allowing me to wear No. 25 this week,” said Prioleau, whose blocked punt in the fourth quarter last week at Pitt led to a Hokies touchdown. “My dad went to Beamerball, and I know it means a lot to Hokie Nation. So, I’m thankful to wear No. 25 against Miami.”

The redshirt freshman wideout from Radford is the son of safeties coach Pierson Prioleau, who starred at Virginia Tech from 1995-1998 and won a Super Bowl with the New Orleans Saints.

Chris Graham

Chris Graham

Chris Graham, the king of "fringe media," is the founder and editor of Augusta Free Press. A 1994 alum of the University of Virginia, Chris is the author and co-author of seven books, including Poverty of Imagination, a memoir published in 2019, and Team of Destiny: Inside Virginia Basketball’s Run to the 2019 National Championship, and The Worst Wrestling Pay-Per-View Ever, published in 2018. For his commentaries on news, sports and politics, go to his YouTube page, or subscribe to his Street Knowledge podcast. Email Chris at [email protected].