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Why rage is fueling Virginia Tech running back Raheem Blackshear this week

Why rage is fueling Virginia Tech running back Raheem Blackshear this week

Virginia Tech West Virginia Football

Virginia Tech running back Raheem Blackshear (right) rushes the ball against West Virginia during the second half Saturday in Morgantown, W.Va. WVU won 27-21.

BLACKSBURG — Virginia Tech running back Raheem Blackshear put some thought into his outfit after practice on Wednesday.

Blackshear wore a black hooded sweatshirt with the word “rage” emblazoned across the front, a shirt that fits his mood this week following a 27-21 loss to West Virginia.

“I got a lot of rage on me this week,” Blackshear said with a smile. “This is our get-back week. That's what we've been saying."

Blackshear wants to channel the emotions he felt on Saturday — and then had to revisit when he was reviewing film of the loss — into his performance against Richmond.

Like his teammates, Blackshear was quick to take responsibility for the offensive miscues Tech made — particularly the ones made inside the 10-yard line — and he's hoping that time he spent pouring over the film will be put to good use.

“You live and you learn,” Blackshear said. “I learned from my mistakes, and I'm just going to critique everything and make sure I get everything fixed up."

He said Tech is a few “small tweaks” away from getting things back on track.

Blackshear led the team in rushing against West Virginia with 10 carries for 47 yards and a touchdown, and he also had four catches for 31 yards.

The 20-yard touchdown came with Tech trailing 27-7 in the third quarter. Blackshear had all kinds of space around the right side of the line, and a big-time block upfield from guard Kaden Moore, who shoved linebacker Jonathan Butler off his feet, helped get Blackshear into the end zone. 

Blackshear was more focused on his missed opportunities in the loss than his success.

The first was a miscommunication on an attempted pop pass from Braxton Burmeister at the end of the first quarter. Blackshear was wide open down the middle, but looked in the wrong direction for the ball and couldn't haul it in. The drive later stalled when the Hokies couldn’t convert a fourth-and-1 play at West Virginia’s 25-yard line.

Blackshear’s other regret was a surprising one — it was his career-high 78-yard kick return at the end of the first half.

"I feel like I got to be more hydrated,” Blackshear said. “Cramping hurt me. I should have busted open that kick return and scored. That's something I got to keep working now."

At the tail end of the run, Blackshear’s muscles tightened up and it was hard for him to lift his legs.

“It's a feeling you don't want,” Blackshear said.

It was a particularly frustrating moment for Blackshear, who has watched the kickoff unit make great strides since the start of fall camp. He wanted them to get a payoff for that hard work with the touchdown.

Blackshear was starting as Tech’s kick returner for Keshawn King, who missed the game with a non-COVID-related illness. He wouldn’t mind some more opportunities in the spot as the season unfolds.

“We've been working, you know?” Blackshear said. “Our brotherhood, we just trust in our brothers and everything. Our kickoff team and special teams, we are improving our game, and I feel like it's elevating us as a team."

Despite the brief cramping spell, Blackshear feels much better physically than he did a year ago when he was coming off a battle with COVID-19 and suffered a hamstring injury in Week 2. He didn’t miss any games, but only had 110 all-purpose yards through three games last season.

This year he leads the team with 317 all-purpose yards through three weeks. He’s ready to put up a big number on Saturday to add to that total.

"It's going to be a game,” Blackshear said with a smile.

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