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The Roanoke Times | File October
Quarterback Logan Thomas (3) and the Virginia Tech Hokies have lost three of their last four outings.
JOEL HAWKSLEY | The Roanoke Times
North Carolina's Marquise Williams (12) is taken down by Virginia Tech's James Gayle (99) Saturday in Blacksburg.
Monday, October 7, 2013
BLACKSBURG - Virginia Tech climbed back into the Top 25 for the first time in over a year. Excuse the Hokies for not celebrating. The last time they were in this position, they lost handily to the team coming to Lane Stadium on Saturday.
Tech (5-1, 2-0 ACC), which hosts Pittsburgh (3-1, 2-1) this weekend, starts the second half of the season in as good of a position as it could have asked for, on a five-game winning streak and ranked 24th by the Associated Press and 25th by the coaches.
"For me, we're in the top 25, but we're used to being in the top 10," quarterback Logan Thomas said. "It doesn't feel any different than it has all year. Going out here, we're going to prepare the same way.
"I guess we've cracked it, but the way we feel is we still have a lot of work to do."
That's especially true considering the opponent coming up on the schedule has beaten the Hokies four straight times dating to 2001.
That includes a beatdown last year at Heinz Field, when the Panthers dealt then-No. 13 Virginia Tech a reality check, knocking the Hokies from the polls with a 35-17 win in which they racked up 537 total yards.
What stands out from that game?
"Dang. Everything," said linebacker Tariq Edwards, who was a spectator because of a knee injury. "It's kind of disgusting just to watch it. ... We want to stop teams from running the football, and to see them constantly be able to run the ball and score off it just looks horrible, like the whole game.
"Sometimes with football, you don't want to use the revenge word. But revenge is a must as far as I put it right now."
Thomas said the ab strain that he's been playing with is about 95 percent healthy. He was still in the walking boot he wore last week because of a mild foot sprain, and said it's a little sore.
He's been limited in practice the last two weeks because of it.
"I don't think I feel any less sharp," he said. "I think I do a pretty good job of staying mentally prepared. I still do all my reps, maybe not at full speed and maybe not in the team huddle, but I do it outside, doing my footwork stuff, going through my progressions, doing the things that I know I should do if I was in the huddle."
Receiver Willie Byrn said his knee is about 85 percent and hopes it will be all the way back by Saturday. He suffered an MCL sprain against Georgia Tech on Sept. 26.
Head coach Frank Beamer said the report on fullback Sam Rogers‘ ankle is "much better today than yesterday." Rogers missed the second half of the UNC game because of the injury.
Beamer said he thinks cornerback Antone Exum (knee) will try to get back this week, although he's not sure what Exum's knee will allow him to do.
Exum chose not to dress last week despite being medically cleared to play, wanting to give his surgically repaired right knee more time to get back into game shape.
"He needs to be full speed before he gets back," Beamer said. "And that's just the bottom line."
Edwards went through something similar last year when he was trying to get his knee to 100 percent.
"It's very tough," he said. "Emotionally, just knowing physically you don't want to rush it, but you still want to be out there with your brothers on the football field. It's just putting yourself in a bind. You don't want to go out there early, and then you're not able to perform as well as you wish you could.
"Me and Antone talked about that. I asked him, ‘Are you ready?' He felt like he was ready, but he just didn't want to push it too early. I just look forward to seeing him out there soon."
Pitt QB Savage cleared
Pittsburgh head coach Paul Chryst said at his Monday news conference that quarterback Tom Savage has been cleared to play after suffering a concussion against Virginia on Sept. 28. The Cavaliers sacked him seven times.
Savage has thrown for 1,052 yards this season, with 10 touchdowns to six interceptions.
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