Tar Heels Visit Starts Long ACC Road For Virginia Tech

Friday, September 28th 2007, 2:21 pm
By: News On 6

RICHMOND, Va. (AP) _ The nonconference season is over for Virginia Tech, and while it included an embarrassing blowout loss that crushed the Hokies' national title hopes, most of their goals are still in reach.

No. 17 Virginia Tech (3-1) will begin pursuing the biggest of those, an Atlantic Coast Conference championship, on Saturday when North Carolina (1-3, 0-1 ACC) visits Blacksburg.

It will be the first of eight consecutive league games for Virginia Tech, the third start for freshman quarterback Tyrod Taylor and the third game in a row where the defense comes in feeling like it wants to try to give the offense plenty of support.

``It's going to be a whole other season,'' linebacker Cam Martin said.

Since a 48-7 loss at No. 2 LSU that prompted the switch from Sean Glennon to the more mobile Taylor, the Hokies have beaten Ohio 28-7 and William & Mary 44-3.

Now, the Tar Heels arrive with a redshirt freshman quarterback in T.J. Yates, who is coming off his worst outing, and the Hokies are eager to keep him moving backward.

Yates was 11-for-27 for 85 yards with four interceptions last week against No. 18 South Florida, finally showing his inexperience after two straight 300-yard games.

``I've played against some young quarterbacks before,'' Hokies linebacker Xavier Adibi said. ``Sometimes you can confuse them and get them to the point where they don't even know what's going on. That's always fun, and a good feeling.''

The game will mark a reunion of sorts for Hokies coach Frank Beamer, who coached against Tar Heels coach Butch Davis when he was with Miami in the Big East.

Davis took over at North Carolina this year, and has much work to do with the struggling Tar Heels.

``This is a test for our football team and we'll probably say this for a long time _ a lot of this stuff still has to be about us,'' he said. ``There are just things that we have to grow, that we have to learn, and every game presents new challenges.''

That could be especially true for Yates, who needs to have a short memory.

``I'm assuming that he'll respond positively,'' Davis said. ``Every challenge that he has done poorly ... he's been able to just wipe it off and put it behind him.''

Taylor played just the first half last week against the Tribe, when the Hokies got defensive and special teams touchdowns early and emptied their bench.

Taylor has completed 31 of 62 passes with one touchdown in two games. He's also run for 104 yards and two scores, while using a limited part of the playbook.

``I'm almost there,'' Taylor said. ``I'm still working hard on it at every practice. Hopefully that playbook will open up gradually each week so I can get more plays in.''

One of the Hokies primary offensive problems has been inconsistent offensive line play, and this week may be no different. Sergio Render, who has started 17 games in a row at right guard, will miss the first quarter for disciplinary reasons, Beamer said.

Branden Ore, whose run for only 205 yards so far, said the offense is still a work in progress as it tries to give the line a chance to meld and Taylor experience.

``It's not just the line, it's not just the quarterback,'' Ore said. ``It's a little bit of everything. It's a group effort, but I think we're real close.''