The Virginia Tech football team returned to the practice field Sunday afternoon after taking several days off during an off week, and the Hokies began preparations for their biggest challenge of the season – a Saturday date with No. 4 Clemson.

The Hokies are in the throes of a three-game losing streak, including heartbreaking losses by three points to Liberty and by a point to Miami. A beat-up Tech squad fell 47-14 at Pittsburgh on Nov. 21, so the off weekend came at a good time.

Tech coach Justin Fuente allowed the players to take Thursday, Friday and Saturday off to celebrate Thanksgiving at their homes, if they so chose. He required them to return to Blacksburg on Saturday evening in keeping with the program’s timeline for COVID-19 testing. He said at his weekly news conference with the media Monday that his team had a “great” practice Sunday.

“Obviously I felt that was more important than anything else we could do,” Fuente said of the time off. “We set pretty simple goals for last week on Tuesday and Wednesday – to get older guys feeling better and younger guys a little bit of work. Then on Thursday, Friday, Saturday, I wanted guys refreshed.

“We had a great workout yesterday, so if that’s any indication, I think our guys feel much better. I thought it [take some time off] was the most important thing we could do in the bye week. Certainly, we need practice and we need to improve and all those sorts of things, but you get to the point where the law of diminishing returns comes into effect. That’s [the time off] exactly what we needed both mentally and physically. It’s not just nine games in a row. And not to keep harping on this, but the mental strain of everything that is going on through this has been pretty difficult. I think our guys needed a little breath of fresh air and a chance to catch their breath for a couple of days.”

Tech needed that rest and will need to be at its best Saturday when the Tigers roll into town. Clemson destroyed Pittsburgh 52-17 this past Saturday.

Pregame coverage begins at 6:00 PM Saturday night on 103.3 FM WESR with kick off at 7:30.