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Hokies can turn eyes upon Heels
In most years, a bye week in the middle of the season would be a welcomed respite to get the team healed up for the stretch run. For No. 15 Virginia Tech, the off week this season may serve as more of a psychological healing tool.
Other than the preseason loss of running back Darren Evans because of a torn anterior cruciate ligament, Virginia Tech (5-2, 3-1 ACC) has managed to avoid devastating injuries. After last Saturday's 28-23 loss to Georgia Tech, the off week could present an opportunity for Virginia Tech to shed thoughts of what might've been and refocus on trying to finish strongly to get back in contention for its third consecutive ACC title.
"I think we've got a good football team," coach Frank Beamer said Monday. "There's a lot of good football teams out there, and there's a lot of football to be played yet. So, I'll get ready for North Carolina (on Oct. 29)."
Coming into the Georgia Tech game, Virginia Tech's injury list was relatively sparse: left guard Sergio Render, who didn't start against the Yellow Jackets, was recovering from a strained pectoral muscle; free safety Eddie Whitley had an ankle injury; and running back Ryan Williams was struggling with an illness. Those were the only injuries that affected the Hokies' two-deep chart.
This week, Beamer said the plan was to practice Tuesday and Wednesday, take Thursday and Friday off and return Saturday to begin game-week preparation for next Thursday's home game against UNC. He said the coaching staff and team spent a lot of time Sunday looking at film from Georgia Tech, which ran for 309 yards in its victory.
"We looked hard at the film and there are some things that we'd do differently," Beamer said. "The more you play against that offense and study it, the better everybody will be against it, but when you try to get ready for it in one week, it's difficult. The name of the game … is executing what you've got."
Sophomore Dyrell Roberts, a Smithfield High graduate, moved into fifth on Virginia Tech's all-time kickoff-return yardage list with returns of 58 and 31 yards against Georgia Tech. He has 953 yards on kickoff returns. Jon Jeffries (1987-91) has the lead with 1,447.
Despite the loss to Georgia Tech, Virginia Tech quarterback Tyrod Taylor, a Hampton High graduate, still was able to move up from 10th to sixth in the nation in passing efficiency. He completed 10 of 14 passes for 159 yards, a touchdown and two interceptions against the Yellow Jackets.
After the Hokies endured an early-season gauntlet of quality opponents, the schedule figures to ease up quite a bit. Virginia Tech's first seven opponents — No. 1 Alabama, Marshall, Nebraska, No. 8 Miami, Duke, Boston College and No. 11 Georgia Tech — have a combined record of 34-12 (winning percentage of 73.9). Yet, the last five opponents — UNC, East Carolina, Maryland, N.C. State and Virginia — have put together a combined mark of just 16-17 (winning percentage of 48.5).
431Number of yards Ryan Williams needs to set Tech's record for rushing yards by a rookie. Darren Evans set the record last season with 1,265.