- The Washington Times - Friday, October 27, 2006

BLACKSBURG, Va. — Thursday’s upset of No. 10 Clemson helped resolve some of Virginia Tech’s concerns about the state of its season, but the 24-7 win still doesn’t put it in the clear in the conference on the heels of consecutive ACC losses to Georgia Tech and Boston College.

Virginia Tech (6-2, 3-2) still needs to win out — and a Yellow Jackets home loss to Miami today could help put the Hokies back into the Coastal Division race.

“Every game is Game 7,” Virginia Tech quarterback Sean Glennon said. “When you lose Game 7, you’re done. And that’s kind of been a little catch phrase around the locker room — every game is Game 7, because we know the minute we lose we’re out of it. So we know that every game from here on out is big, but a few wins from now we could be right back in it.”

It may take more than a few wins to put the Hokies back in the ACC championship in Jacksonville — although coaches and players say they’re trying not to get ahead of themselves.

For starters, if unranked Miami (5-2, 2-1) can upset No. 21 Georgia Tech today, the Hurricanes presumably would sit alone atop the division standings when the Hokies visit on Nov. 4. While Virginia Tech has shown a strong return to form in its last two outings, coach Frank Beamer said after Thursday’s win that he wouldn’t make the mistake of letting his team get swallowed up by expectations for a second time this season.

“It’s the same thing I said before this game, ‘Let’s go worry about the next game,’ ” Beamer said. “Just put all our effort toward trying to beat Miami and let that race take care of itself. I think if you’re not careful you get worrying about all the other stuff, the stuff you can’t control and you’re not thinking about Miami. And that’s what we’ve got to do now.”

Although the Hurricanes are having a down year — with plenty of fans and donors demanding the firing of coach Larry Coker — their only losses are to Louisville and Florida State. The Virginia Tech/Miami matchup next week already has been mocked as a contest between two schools plagued by personal fouls — and worse — on the field, and arrests off the field.

Since the loss at Boston College, and the dismissal of two players, the Hokies have played two games with only one personal foul — a roughing the kicker call on first-time starter Cary Wade against Southern Miss — and a minimum of penalties across the board.

As the off the field distractions and self-inflicted handicaps of penalties and suspensions have been minimized, the team’s latest performances have been by far their most notable.

After giving up early points and then collapsing in the two losses, the Hokies gave up only one touchdown to Clemson, which had averaged 42.3 a game in its first eight games. The Tigers averaged 454.8 yards a game, but Virginia Tech limited Clemson to just 166 total yards. The highly touted tailback tandem of C.J. Spiller and James Davis produced 41 yards and 30 yards, respectively.

If defensive coordinator Bud Foster’s unit was impressive, the offense was even more impressive for doing what no one knew it could do. Spending much of the season lamenting the lack of a reliable second-string tailback to spell third-year sophomore Branden Ore, the Tech coaches finally gave their offense to their No. 1 guy.

With his 203 yards on 37 carries, Ore not only became the first Tech player to have consecutive 200-plus rushing games, he obliterated the Tigers’ defensive average of 77 yards a game — all behind an offensive line that’s struggled all season and saw left guard Ryan Shuman replaced early in the first quarter by senior backup Brandon Gore.

“Shuman going down early, it hurt us,” Virginia Tech right tackle Duane Brown said. “But Brandon Gore, he’s a very experienced, talented player. He came in and filled the role and we didn’t miss a beat — put up 200 yards two weeks straight. I’m hoping we silenced the doubters now.”

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