Virginia Tech fullback Sam Rogers is protecting his quarterback not just on the field, but also from what he believes is unfair criticism.

Michael Brewer was on the receiving end of a lot of blame last week after throwing three interceptions in the Hokies' 27-24 loss to Georgia Tech. Rogers said putting the loss on Brewer is wrong.

"Michael is the toughest quarterback I've ever played with," the former walk-on said this week. "He's a game-changer. He makes great plays. I trust him full-heartedly. Everybody makes mistakes."

The Hokies (2-2) have made plenty of other mistakes in losing on consecutive weekends at home for the first time since 1995. They will try to avoid the penalties and missed assignments that have plagued them when they host Western Michigan (2-1) of the Mid-American Conference on Saturday.

"We messed up during the game," Rogers said. Brewer "graded out like 90 percent in the passing game. He just made a couple mistakes, but I can look back and I can tell you I didn't grade out like that."

Brewer actually played his best game since transferring from Texas Tech against the Yellow Jackets, coach Frank Beamer said, adding that this week's priority is more about fixing the Hokies than anything.

"The emphasis right now is, ... Virginia Tech has got to get better," he said.

Western Michigan has lost its three prior meetings with Virginia Tech by a combined 124-0, including 63-0 in the last meeting in 2004, but coach P.J. Fleck's team hasn't had any trouble scoring this year.

The Broncos are coming off consecutive victories in which they scored 45 points each, and Fleck said his players aren't the only ones looking forward to the challenge awaiting at Lane Stadium.

At 33, he's the youngest head coach at the Bowl Subdivision level, and the opportunity to talk to Beamer, the winningest active coach at that level, is an opportunity he plans to relish.

"The guy's built a culture, a tradition," Fleck said. "He built the entire thing, and it's been fun to watch where he's been able to take that program from cultures to the recruiting part to the facilities, to how people look at his program throughout the country to 'Enter Sandman' when they come out.

"I mean, that's exciting. That's college football."

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Here are some things to watch when Western Michigan plays Virginia Tech:

SLOWING FRANKLIN: Freshman running back Jarvion Franklin ranks fifth in FBS with an average of 180 yards per game and leads the entire division with nine touchdowns. He's scored three in each game, and is capable of breaking a big play. The Broncos will need him to find room to have any chance.

TURNOVERS: A key statistic in any game, but especially when one team is a 27-point underdog. Hokies quarterback Michael Brewer has thrown eight interceptions in four games and last week threw one that was returned for a touchdown. If either teams makes mistakes like that, the odds could mean nothing.

SHOOTOUT: The Broncos would seem to prefer a shootout since they rank 23rd nationally in scoring offense and 94th nationally in scoring defense. That's especially true against the Hokies since they have never scored in three prior meetings. Virginia Tech would love to get its offense clicking better, too.

SILLY MISTAKES: The Hokies' switch to a speeded up attack that better suits Brewer's spread offense background has worked at times, and stumbled at others. It was great when Virginia Tech won at Ohio State earlier in the season, but saddled with illegal substitution penalties and missed assignments since.

100 YEARS OF KNOWLEDGE: The Broncos' P.J. Fleck, at 33, in the youngest head coach at the FBS level and Frank Beamer, at 67, id the fifth oldest. Fleck said he hopes to get 2 minutes during warmups to pick Beamer's brain about how he built the program at Virginia Tech to one of the best in the nation.

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