MG VT UNC 101919

Virginia Tech defensive coordinator Bud Foster and his defensive unit coach from the sideline during overtime of the Virginia Tech—University of North Carolina game in Blacksburg Va. on Saturday October 19 2019. Virginia Tech won the game 45-43 in 6 overtimes.

BLACKSBURG—Virginia Tech wide receiver Tre Turner let out an audible gasp on Tuesday when he was reminded of the team’s last three games after off weeks—Old Dominion in 2018, Georgia Tech in 2018 and Duke earlier this year.

“Woah,” Turner said while shaking his head.

Turner’s reaction says plenty about how those games unfolded. The Hokies lost all three while giving up 47.7 points and 506 yards per game.

Tech hasn’t reinvented the wheel during its most recent off week—coach Justin Fuente simply said “no” when asked if made any changes—but that’s partly because he’s already challenged his players to approach things differently.

That conversation happened after the 45-10 loss to Duke last month.

“When Fuente said he’s going to change practice, we don’t do anything soft,” Turner said. “So everybody’s just going hard at practice and if you’re not going hard, then he’s going to start it over. So that’s the standard.”

Turner said the results in recent weeks speak for themselves. Tech has won three straight with two of those wins coming in hard-fought battles against ACC Coastal rivals (Miami and North Carolina). The offense has made the biggest strides averaging 437 yards and 39.7 points per game during that stretch (it averaged 363.5 yards and 23.3 points over the first four weeks).

“Honestly, if you watch us play, you’ll see that it’s a whole different team and we’re all just more locked in and really ready to go for the next challenge,” Turner said. “We’ve got a big game ahead of us and we’re all ready to play, so we come to practice just working hard every day.”

Longtime defensive coordinator Bud Foster has delivered a similar message to his players this week.

“That is one thing we’ve really tried to focus on this week and have really intense practices and really intense cross over work and keep that edge about us,” Foster said.

And it hasn’t fallen on deaf ears.

Virginia Tech defensive end TyJuan Garbutt said the “good on good” work pitting the first team offense against the first team defense and the backups against each other has been “crisp” since regrouping on Sunday after a couple days off.

“It’s just I feel like this week guys are riding high and we got a lot of confidence, we know what we can be this week if we continue to work, so we come to work everyday,” Garbutt said.

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

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