MORGANTOWN — Virginia Tech linebacker Dax Hollifield didn’t need to check social media on Saturday to know that Hokie fans would be voicing their frustration with the team after a 27-21 loss.
Tech was on the doorstep of completing an incredible comeback — they trailed by 20 points midway through the third quarter — but came up short in the final minute when the offense couldn’t score with a fresh set of downs at the 3-yard line.
The veteran linebacker used his brief time at the podium on Saturday to urge his team to stay away from “outside opinions” as they process the gut-wrenching loss.
“I think we’ve just got to delete social media and everything in general,” Hollifield said. “I don’t think we need to really look at the outside, the opinions of outside people, you know what I’m saying? I just don’t think our team, the players, need to be listening to critics right now. We know who we are. I’m not doubting who we are. I’m not doubting who we can be. I just don’t think anybody in our locker room needs to listen to the outside opinions of others.”
Hollifield knows much of that anger will be directed at an offense that came up empty-handed on three separate trips inside the 10-yard line in the loss, including that final possession. It wasn’t a pretty overall performance from an offense that committed four false-start penalties, allowed five sacks and had four three-and-outs.
The defender said he doesn’t want to see that kind of finger-pointing seep into the locker room where it could pit teammates against each other.
“I’ve seen losses like this tear a team apart, especially sides of the ball,” Hollifield said. “We can’t let that happen. I talked to a lot of the leaders on the team, trying to keep this team as one. That’s really our main goal right now. Come back and have a great week, win this week, and then go into the bye, rest up.”
Hollifield, who is a co-captain and member of the team’s leadership council, plans on using his leadership position to prevent that from happening.
“You’ve got to trust your team, trust your leaders to get that done. You’ve just got to set the tone. Tomorrow we’ve got to come out and set the tone. That’s really what it is. The way we go, I feel like, is where the team goes. The young guys are great followers, and if we do it, they’ll follow. We’ve just got to keep them on track. That’s my main goal.”
This won’t be the first time Virginia Tech’s locker room has dealt with this kind of emotion. The Hokies are 5-6 in one-possession games going back to 2019. They were 2-3 last year with losses to Liberty, Miami and Wake Forest.
“Our guys came back in the second half and really just kept fighting and scratching and clawing,” Fuente said. “We had a chance to win the game there. So our guys are pretty crushed. We are all crushed.”