67F Heinz Field, Pittsburgh, PA
BLACKSBURG, Va. (AP) -- - Two home victories have No. 13 Virginia Tech off to a good start and the first road trip of the season seems to be coming at the right time with the offense still not nearly as sharp as it needs to be.
The Hokies play at old Big East rival Pittsburgh (0-2) on Saturday.
Virginia Tech has won its last 13 true road games, the longest active streak in the country. Coach Frank Beamer said the key for this team to keep that success going is to learn to play the same way whether they are at home or on the road.
"I think the thing we'll talk about it this week, you've got to play the same way regardless of what day it is, what time it is, where you are," Beamer said Tuesday. "Trying to play with the same consistency. We've been a fairly good road team. We've got to see if this year's football team has that characteristic of being constant and consistent."
That consistency might be easier to develop in a hostile environment.
"I feel like when we travel on the road, it's kind of just us together. When we go in other people's stadiums, we don't have the home crowd like we do at home to help us out," linebacker Jeron Gouveia-Winslow said. "I feel like, as a team, you definitely have to come closer together and I think it helps us build our chemistry."
Dyrell Roberts said a team's focus also improves away from home.
"Going into somebody else's arena, stuff like that, we're really all we got because we're together and that's it," he said. "We tend to focus in more, focus more on the game and the task at hand, so I think playing away does play a big factor in us coming together and banding together to go out and reach the common goal."
That chemistry and focus has apparently been pretty easy for the Hokies to find since joining the Atlantic Coast Conference. They have a 27-5 road record in league play, and it's actually better than their ACC home record: 27-6.
Beamer had a few other numbers to share with the Hokies.
"We talked about it yesterday," Beamer said. "The last three games up there, they beat us 38-7, 28-21, 31-28 and I think we were favored in all three of them. That's part of the history."
Actually, the middle loss was at Lane Stadium, where Virginia Tech plays, but the result was the same.
"I think every time we have played Pittsburgh when we were in the Big East, we had a lot of respect for that program. They have always had solid, good football players, but they have had several coaching changes in the past couple years so I think when you go through coaching changes, there are adjustment periods," Beamer said. "I think that's just the way it is.
"We have always had respect for them and we sure do have respect for them now."
For first-year Panthers' coach Paul Chryst, whose team lost its opener to Youngstown State and then fell at Cincinnati last weekend, the feeling is clearly mutual.
"What a great opportunity we have this week. Not just a good Virginia Tech team this year, but you talk about, in college football, one of the measuring sticks program-wise," Chryst said. "Our kids realize that and I think they look forward to the challenge."
Pitt will need to be much improved if it wants to upset the Hokies in what will serve as a preview of sorts for what awaits the Panthers when they join the ACC next season. Virginia Tech and Pitt will play each other annually as part of the ACC's Coastal Division, renewing a rivalry that was among the more entertaining in the Big East before the Hokies split for the ACC in 2004.
The Panthers won the last meeting, a 31-28 upset of then fifth-ranked Virginia Tech in 2003. No player on either team Saturday was even in high school at the time.
And there's hardly any guarantees about what Pitt will look like next fall, so don't expect Chryst or the Panthers to get caught looking too far down the road. There's way too much to worry about at the moment to think about sending a message.
"People ask me if it's a measuring stick for the future, I say it's a measuring stick for right now," Chryst said. "All that matters is the now."