Hokies hold high expectations heading into Foster's final year as DC

BLACKSBURG, Va. (WDBJ) -- Redshirt junior Divine Deablo didn't mince words Thursday when talking about the change he hopes to see with the Hokies in 2019.

"My main message was you're either 100 percent in or 100 percent out," he said. "We had too many guys that were iffy about that, and we had way too many guys going into big games only half believing that we could win, like Notre Dame. I didn't like that, so this year the goal is to be all in."

Coming off the program's first losing season since 1992, there was plenty of talk of improvement at Thursday's preseason media session.

"We used everything last year -- every game, every practice, every film session for motivation and for learning experience, so we're looking forward to 2019," senior defensive back Reggie Floyd.

The Hokies' defense allowed 6.4 yards per play last season, the worst average of Bud Foster's tenure as Virginia Tech's defensive coordinator.

A unit that started nine underclassmen in the Military Bowl has another year under its belt, however, and appears poised to turn the page in Foster's final campaign.

"The chemistry in the locker room we've really been focused on," said sophomore linebacker Dax Hollifield. "It's all about positivity, just making everything positive, no negativity. Picture everything as the glass half full instead of half empty."

On the offense, redshirt senior Ryan Willis has not officially been named the starting quarterback, but the Kansas transfer started 10 games for the Hokies last year, throwing 24 touchdowns and only 9 interceptions, a ratio that was third-best in the ACC.

"I'm taking every day one day at a time, every rep in the weight room one rep at a time," Willis said. "I watched more film this summer than I ever have in the past. I'm just trying to improve. It's about getting better. I want to be the best player I can be so I can help out this team so we can win some games and, hopefully, win some championships along the way."

The Hokies kick off fall practice on Friday, gearing up for the season opener at Boston College on August 31.