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‘I’ll play anywhere’: Virginia Tech LB Alan Tisdale didn’t shy away from new challenge on Saturday

‘I’ll play anywhere’: Virginia Tech LB Alan Tisdale didn’t shy away from new challenge on Saturday

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Virginia Tech North Carolina Football

North Carolina quarterback Sam Howell (left) breaks away from Virginia Tech’s Alan Tisdale for a 12-yard gain Saturday in the fourth quarter of the Hokies’ 56-45 loss to the Tar Heels at Kenan Stadium in Chapel Hill, N.C.

BLACKSBURG — Virginia Tech coaches tried to simplify the game plan for Alan Tisdale when they put him at boundary safety in the fourth quarter of Saturday’s 56-45 loss to North Carolina.

How scaled back was it?

“I was just playing man on the tight end,” Tisdale said, in a virtual press conference on Tuesday. “Whatever the tight end go, I’ll follow him.”

Tech had multiple safeties — including starters Divine Deablo and Keonta Jenkins —out of the lineup under COVID-19 protocols at a position that’s already been depleted with multiple scholarship players expected to miss the season.

The targeting call on Chamarri Conner in the first quarter only made things worse.

“They needed me at the position,” Tisdale said. “I’ll play anywhere. I’ll play nickel. I’ll play free safety if they need me to. In that situation, they needed somebody and I just had to fill in.”

It was also a physical challenge for Tisdale having been sidelined the last two weeks (and missing Tech’s game against Duke) in quarantine. It wasn’t easy for the defender to stay in game shape while he felt a “little ill” and could only do light jogging in his backyard.

The fatigue on Tisdale’s face at the end of the game was obvious even to his teammates.

“I mean, there’s no excuse,” Tisdale said. “Yeah, I was out and I’m just coming back. So I mean, there’s really no excuse. I should have been hydrated, but yeah, I was tired, though. (Tyrell) Smith did give me some words of encouragement and just picked my head up even though I was exhausted, just kept going.”

Tech gave up 656 yards in the loss (the second most in program history) and 31 first downs. North Carolina had 399 rushing yards on 9.3 yards per carry with starting running backs Michael Carter and Javonte Williams putting up more than 150 yards.

The numbers dropped the Hokies to the bottom of the conference in points allowed per game (37.0 points) and total defense (486.7 yards)

Tisdale cringed when he saw those numbers after the game.

“We all felt disappointed,” he said.

Tisdale was ready to turn the page on the disappointing loss 24 hours later, and shared that message with coach Justin Fuente on Sunday at the team’s facility.

“I just saw his mood was down,” Tisdale said. “I just tapped him on the shoulder, told him to pick his head up, because I guess everybody was just kind of down, and we were all down because of the Chapel Hill game, but we can’t look back on it. We can’t reminisce about it. All we can do is move forward and keep pushing.”

Mike Niziolek is the Virginia Tech football beat writer for The Roanoke Times. Follow him on Facebook and Twitter.

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