posted on Thursday, December 6, 2012 at 9:07 AM
At 6-6, Virginia Tech comes into the Russell Athletic Bowl with their worst record under Frank Beamer since their streak of 20 consecutive bowls started in 1993. Still, Beamer's boys from Blacksburg could just as easily be 8-4 right now, after close losses to Cincinnati and then-No. 10 Florida State. For that reason and more, Coach Beamer is confident his team's progress.
"I've been proud of our football team," said Beamer. "We haven't always played well, but we've always played hard for the most part...We've had some tough losses, but you really find out what your players and coaches are made of when things aren't so good...We haven't had the results that we've wanted, but it hasn't been for lack of effort"
Beamer praised his squad's ability to stick with each other through the struggles, and fight to become bowl eligible. The Hokies won their final two games to make it to the game on December 28, including a close 17-14 victory over heated in-state rival Virginia.
"The team hung together," said Beamer. "They stayed together as a group and I'm proud of that. I'm proud to bring this team to Orlando."
Looking ahead to the game, Beamer kept his cards close to the vest when discussing how his team plans to improve in the practices ahead of the game.
"We'd like to run the ball better," said Beamer.
The Hokies rank just 67th among all FBS teams with 1,893 total rushing yards, and 66th in in the FBS at 157.8 rushing yards per game. There's certainly room for improvement, and the Hokies will look to freshman RB J.C. Coleman and senior Martin Scales to boost the running game.
"Coleman did some things, I thought Martin Scales [did some things] in ball games there late that drew our attention," said Beamer. "I think those two really stepped it up."
Another focus of Beamer's is the continued improvement of QB Logan Thomas. Thomas is the unquestioned leader of the Hokies offense, but has struggled with interceptions for much of the season. Beamer sees the key to Thomas's improvement as general improvement in his supporting cast.
"[We need to] just get better as a football team," said Beamer. "Your quarterback, it's the pieces around him too. The receivers being where they need to be, getting a better running game going, I think all of those things go into your quarterback playing consistent. Getting better as an offense, and getting better running the football, and that will help Logan."