- The Washington Times - Friday, November 10, 2006

BLACKSBURG, Va. — When Kent State comes to Blacksburg today, it will face a Virginia Tech team that has cut its penalties in half since a disastrous trip to Boston College four weeks ago.

In the 22-3 loss to Boston College, the Hokies committed four turnovers and a season-high nine penalties for 88 yards.

In last Saturday’s 17-10 win over Miami, Virginia Tech (7-2) came away with a season-low of three penalties for 15 yards.

“They really played well,” coach Frank Beamer said of his Hokies. “They played hard, aggressive, I think we had one penalty against the defense last week and it was offsides on a field goal try. And then one penalty this time — and really the offensive tackles for Miami, I think he flinched and Chris [Ellis] jumped — and so if you’re playing that good of defense and not getting penalties and playing that aggressive, I like what we’re all about.”

Since the emphasis on clean, precise play, Beamer’s team has won. In the three games since Boston College, the Hokies have averaged just fewer than four penalties a game. In the first seven games of the season, Virginia Tech was one of the most penalized teams in the ACC with an average of more than seven penalties worth almost 61 yards.

“When he says it to the team, he’s already said it to us,” offensive coordinator Bryan Stinespring said. “And I think for us where we are offensively it certainly is beneficial for us to stay even with the chains as much as we can and not have penalties that force us into second and long or third and long. That’s not good for any offense, but for where we are off it’s not going to bode well for us to be in behind the chains situations.”

Having made it out of the Orange Bowl with a win on just 139 rushing yards — one of the lowest of Beamer’s 20-year tenure at Virginia Tech — and a one-touchdown margin of victory, the yellow flags certainly looked like a deciding factor, particularly as the Hurricanes handed over 62 yards, more that four times that of the Hokies.

“We know we have to be focused, especially going on the road in Miami,” right tackle Duane Brown said. “We can’t have false starts. That was probably the loudest crowd that we’ve had — well, in the first quarter at least — and no one jumped before the snap. So that’s just big for us. It’s just becoming natural for us.”

While efficient productivity is perhaps easier for an offensive unit that feeds on rational, cerebral plays than for a high-strung, high-energy defense fueled by aggression, the Virginia Tech also has had to buy in — and to their benefit.

“It [feels] good. … It seems like then, we got our penalties, kind of people pointed people out, like, not on the squad but people outside looking into this team, it just kind of pointed people out,” sophomore corner Macho Harris said. “Like, ‘Oh he got that penalty probably because he’s selfish.’ That’s probably what people were thinking in their minds. But now that we’re not getting penalties, we’re playing as a team. It’s making us gel more. We don’t really need the negative image.”

When Virginia Tech takes on Kent State (5-4) this afternoon, the Golden Flashes can look forward to at least a semi-gracious host — the kind that certainly will look to knock an opponent’s head off, but be glad to help him find it after the whistle.

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