College football season is back, and the Virginia Tech Hokies kick things off Saturday against William and Mary.
Saturday's home opener will be the 63rd meeting between Virginia Tech and William and Mary. Hokies Coach Frank Beamer has won 24 of 27 home openers. But the Hokies are taking nothing for granted against a Tribe team that returns nine defensive starters from last season, when they nearly upset West Virginia in Morgantown.
“Even though it's different levels of football, they have a lot of good football players and a lot of veteran football players,” said Beamer, who is entering his 28th season. “We're starting a lot of new guys so every game is a little bit different, but you've got to go out and play and they're certainly capable.”
Virginia Tech wide receiver Willie Byrn said: “We're not so much focused on preseason rankings or who we play and who we don't play. It's just a matter of whoever lines up across from us, we have to be at our best.”
The Hokies and the Tribe played in the first-ever varsity football game at Lane Stadium back on October 2, 1965, with the Hokies winning 9-7. Only the west stands and the center section of the east bleachers were complete for that game. This Saturday things come full circle as the Tribe returns to Blacksburg to kick off the 50th season of football at Lane Stadium.
“A lot of great moments, a lot of great players,” Beamer said. “I realize how fortunate I've been to be associated with Virginia Tech and how good it's been to me. It's kind of neat that here they are fifty years later being our opening ballgame.”
The ties between the two teams don't stop there. Coach Beamer and Tribe head coach Jimmye Laycock worked on the same staff at the Citadel out of college. Also, former Virginia Tech quarterbacks coach Kevin Rogers is on Laycock's staff in Williamsburg, as is one-time Tech defensive lineman Kevin Lewis.