Virginia Tech, Wake Forest focused on positives heading into ACC matchup

Wake Forest and Virginia Tech have piled up problems over the past few weeks that need addressing. But both teams also are trying to emphasize positive developments.

Building on those will be among the goals for both the Demon Deacons and Hokies when they meet on Saturday in Blacksburg, Va.

Wake Forest (3-2, 0-2 Atlantic Coast Conference) is facing a two-game skid, but seeing the defense come through in big situations has been encouraging.

“In a lot of ways, I feel better about our team now than I did after any of the wins,” Demon Deacons coach Dave Clawson said after his team’s 17-12 loss to Clemson last weekend. “Our defense was playing at a really high level. I think we gave (the Tigers) everything they could handle.”

It will be homecoming for the Hokies (2-4, 1-1), who are coming off a 39-17 road setback against then-No. 5 Florida State. Virginia Tech returns to Blacksburg with a sense of optimism despite the loss.

“Every game that has happened up to this point, it’s been self-inflicted wounds,” Hokies cornerback Dorian Strong said. “So, we need to just do it and stop talking about it. Just play our brand of football and show up in big-time games.”

Virginia Tech coach Brent Pry said the team has pulled together behind dual-threat quarterback Kyron Drones.

“I’m not saying we’re the ’85 Bears running the ball but we’re running the ball better, giving us a chance,” Pry said.

Drones said the Hokies need to build off their performance against the Seminoles, one in which they fell into a 22-point, first-quarter deficit before rattling off 17 consecutive points to pull within five early in the third quarter.

“I just got to be better at getting everybody and keeping people engaged,” Drones said. “Just staying patient and staying with the offensive game plan.”

Virginia Tech is liking what it has been getting from running back Bhayshul Tuten, a transfer from North Carolina A&T. He posted 156 yards on four kickoff returns against Florida State, returning one for a 99-yard touchdown. Thanks to that performance, Tuten was named ACC Special Teams Player of the Week.

Meanwhile, Wake Forest has had shortcomings on offense, especially inside its opponent’s 20-yard line.

“We need to get better in the red zone,” Clawson said of his team, which has eight touchdowns in 23 red-zone trips this season.

The Hokies have won six of the last eight meetings between the teams. The Demon Deacons haven’t won in Blacksburg since 1983, though they’ve only made two trips there since then.