Tall order facing William & Mary at No. 12 Virginia Tech
Statement made. Point proven.
Virginia Tech's impressive 24-3 win Monday night against then-No. 19 Florida State vaulted the Hokies up eight spots to No. 12 in the AP Top 25 poll when it was released Tuesday.
Hokies quarterback Josh Jackson and wide receiver Damon Hazelton connected for a 10-yard touchdown on the first drive and the Virginia Tech defense took care of business the rest of the way.
Next up for the Virginia Tech will be William & Mary (1-0) on Saturday at Lane Stadium in Blacksburg, Va. The Tribe also won their season opener, albeit not in such a dominating fashion as the Hokies, when they defeated Bucknell 14-7.
The No. 12 team in the nation playing an FCS team normally would be considered mismatch from the get-go. And on paper, the Hokies have advantages across the board.
But this season will not be like any other season for the Tribe -- or at least in the past 39 years. Jimmie Laycock has been at the helm of the William & Mary football program for 38 years. No. 39 will be his last.
And nothing would make his players happier than pinning an "L" on the biggest and baddest team in the state.
"The emphasis should be on this year, this year's team, not on me," Laycock told the Richmond Times. "I've tried to make it never about me or what I've done, or what I haven't done, which is plenty. It's about the team and about the program and about the school and that's the way I'm going to continue this year, I can assure you of that."
Tribe players can assure their coach they are going to go all out to send him out a winner.
"Human nature takes over in the end, and we do kind of as a team collectively want to send him out on a good note," sophomore quarterback Shon Mitchell said.
Mitchell did his part in the opener against Bucknell. He ran for a touchdown and threw for the game-winner -- a 75-yard catch and run by DeVonte Dedmon -- in the fourth quarter.
Playing the likes of Virginia Tech gives players like Mitchell and wide receiver Jack Armstrong a chance to prove they can play with the nation's best.
"I know for a lot of guys in this state felt like they were snubbed by Tech," Armstrong told the (Hampton) Daily News. "And it is exciting. I can't lie, going into Lane Stadium in front of 60K. But once you step (between) the white lines, it becomes another football game."
Armstrong, Mitchell and Laycock know it won't be easy, especially after the Hokies dismantled Florida State for their first win at Doak Campbell Stadium in Tallahassee since 1974.
"I don't think anybody ... would come away with anything but being very impressed with the way Virginia Tech played," Laycock said. "The skill level they have, the effort and enthusiasm they played with, was very evident to me and would be evident to anybody watching."
Bud Foster's defense started eight new players against the Seminoles and all the defense did was stop the FSU offense it its tracks. On 36 of 63 plays, the Seminoles did not make positive yards while the Hokies forced five turnovers and recorded five sacks.
"Everything they did, we saw in practice and on film," Virginia Tech senior defensive tackle Ricky Walker told the Richmond Times. "I'm just proud. We definitely made a statement."
Walker did give head coach Justin Fuente and Foster a scare when he and teammate Reggie Floyd collided helmet-to-helmet.
"That's two trains meeting in the night," Walker told the Roanoke Times. "I just hyperextended my knee. I think I stepped on somebody's foot or something. I'm good."
Walker promised to be ready for the home opener against Mitchell and William & Mary.
Saturday's game will mark the 64th meeting between the two programs and, as expected, the Hokies lead the series, 41-18-4.
But there was a time when William & Mary dominated the series -- the smaller school recorded 12 straight wins against Virginia Tech from 1940 through 1953.
But the Hokies have won the past 11 meetings. The Tribe's last win against Virginia came in 1976 -- a 27-15 win in Blacksburg.
The last time the two teams played, Virginia Tech pulled away for a 34-9 win on Aug. 30, 2014. The Hokies outgained the Tribe, 488-193, including 275-65 yards in the second half.