With four and a half months remaining until Virginia Tech squares off with two-time defending national champion Alabama, there's still plenty of time to get everything in order. But after Saturday's scrimmage in which the defense clearly defeated the offense once again, offensive coordinator Scot Loeffler knows there's no time to waste.
"We need to get better, period," Loeffler said after the scrimmage. "There's some positive things, and I don't want to sound like a negative Nancy, but we need to have the mentality that we're against the clock. We play in 100-something days, we gotta go. We gotta go."
That urgency is sure to help in the long run for the Hokies. It's just a matter of players making the improvements- and so far, that seems to be the case.
"When you practice against each other, things get old, and there's a lot of stuff going on," coach Frank Beamer said. "But when you keep a high motor I think you learn better, and that to me was a good scrimmage right there. But the way we're practicing, that's what I'm most pleased about."
One player that has appeared to jump the learning curve the most during spring practice is true freshman cornerback Brandon Facyson, who currently is working with the second defensive unit. In the two scrimmages, Facyson (who enrolled early in January) has 5 tackles, a team-high 3 breakups, and an interception.
"It's definitely not like high school," Facyson said. "Playing for coach Gray is a great feeling. You go home and think about things he said, and you try to go in the next day and put it to the test and just keep getting better."
The 18-year-old seems to understand that the mental aspects of college football are just as important as the physical aspects. That's perhaps why he's found himself right in the thick of the cornerback competition while Antone Exum remains out with a torn ACL.
While Facyson has thrust himself into the mix after just a few months on campus, linebacker Tariq Edwards has endured a completely different path back onto the field. He was Virginia Tech's star linebacker two years ago, but was forced to sit out most of the 2012 season due to injury. For Edwards, the physical aspect of the game is much more important than mentally- he already knows everything about the defense.
"Conditioning-wise, I'm feeling pretty good," Edwards said. "Going into the 6 a.m's and all that, I think I did pretty good. Coming back to game speed, sometimes it's tough to get back to that level. But I think I'm doing a good job of getting there."
Although he has just three tackles in the scrimmages thus far, Edwards mentioned that he's been having some productive practices. He may be close to getting back to the level he was at two years ago, but Edwards realizes that won't be enough if he wants to make the headlines.
"Every day you have work to do to perfect your craft," Edwards said. "I've been close, and it's hard to answer that question, because even if I get to the point where I want to be- there's always something you can improve upon."
The Hokies' spring practice concludes with the annual Spring Game on April 20 at 3 p.m.