ACC: Rashad Carmichael

Virginia Tech spring wrap

May, 5, 2011
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2010 overall record: 11-3

2010 conference record: 8-0

Returning starters

Offense: 6, defense: 6, kicker/punter: 0

Top returners

SE Danny Coale, FL Jarrett Boykin, RT Blake DeChristopher, DT Antoine Hopkins, LB Bruce Taylor, CB Jayron Hosley, FS Eddie Whitley

Key losses

QB Tyrod Taylor, RB Darren Evans, RB Ryan Williams, C Beau Warren, TE Andre Smith, DT John Graves, CB Rashad Carmichael, ROV Davon Morgan, PK Chris Hazley

2010 statistical leaders (* returners)

Rushing: Evans (854 yards)

Passing: Tyrod Taylor (2,743 yds)

Receiving: Boykin* (847 yds)

Tackles: Bruce Taylor (91)

Sacks: Steven Friday (8.5)

Interceptions: Hosley* (9)

Spring answers

1. A new Fab Four: Virginia Tech’s defensive line is oozing with talent and potential -- the kind that can resurrect the Hokies’ defense to the standard Bud Foster and fans are used to. All four projected starters are underclassmen, and redshirt sophomores J.R. Collins and James Gayle had a phenomenal spring. Derrick Hopkins couldn’t be blocked, and he, Collins and Gayle took their games to another level this spring.

2. Logan Thomas is ready. The first-year starting quarterback erased any lingering doubts about his ability to take over the offense and replace the winningest quarterback in school history. He’ll have some growing pains, but he’s got veteran receivers, four senior offensive linemen in front of him and an exceptional running back who can catch the ball out of the backfield in David Wilson.

3. Linebacker Tariq Edwards has replaced Lyndell Gibson. Edwards could have a breakout season, thanks in part to Gibson’s decision to transfer prior to spring practices. Foster has compared Edwards to Xavier Adibi as far as his size and speed. The redshirt sophomore is about 6-foot-2, runs well and is athletic.

Fall questions

1. Who’s the No. 2 QB? It’s still unsettled, as coach Frank Beamer praised redshirt freshman Mark Leal this spring, and Ricardo Young will increase the competition this summer when he returns from a foot injury he suffered during one of the scrimmages that caused him to miss the rest of the spring. Ju-Ju Clayton was the front-runner for the job entering the spring, but it could turn into a three-player battle this summer.

2. Defensive depth. The staff is excited about its starting lineup, but the lack of experience behind it remains a concern, particularly at linebacker where injuries depleted the group, and in the secondary, where Detrick Bonner and Theron Norman haven’t played a collegiate snap yet.

3. Kicking game. Will Danny Coale really be the Hokies’ starting receiver AND punter? He will if none of the other candidates beat him out for the job this summer. If Coale wins the job -- and it’s a very real possibility -- the logistics also remain a question. Will he warm up with the punters or run routes as a receiver? Will he run routes in his punting shoe? Beamer would prefer if Scott Demler and Ethan Keyserling win the job so it’s not an issue, but Beamer will go with the senior who has game experience if he’s the best choice. Cody Journell enters the summer as the No. 1 place-kicker, but it’s not a lock.

NFL draft rewind: ACC basics

May, 2, 2011
5/02/11
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ACC Players Taken in the NFL Draft

1 12 Christian Ponder, Florida State, QB Vikings
1 14 Robert Quinn, North Carolina, DE Rams
1 22 Anthony Castonzo, Boston College, T Colts
2 33 Ras-I Dowling, Virginia, CB Patriots
2 38 Ryan Williams, Virginia Tech, RB Cardinals
2 40 Bruce Carter, North Carolina, LB Cowboys
2 41 Jarvis Jenkins, Clemson, DT Redskins
2 46 Orlando Franklin, Miami, OL Broncos
2 50 Marcus Gilchrist, Clemson, CB Chargers
2 51 Da’ Quan Bowers, Clemson, DE Buccaneers
2 52 Marvin Austin, North Carolina, DT Giants
2 55 Rodney Hudson, Florida State, C-G Chiefs
2 58 Torrey Smith, Maryland, WR Ravens
2 59 Greg Little, North Carolina, WR Browns
2 60 Brandon Harris, Miami, CB Texans
3 67 Nate Irving, NC State, LB Broncos
3 79 Leonard Hankerson, Miami, WR Redskins
3 81 DeMarcus Van Dyke, Miami, CB Raiders
3 86 Allen Bailey, Miami, DE Chiefs
4 100 Da’Norris Searcy, North Carolina, S Bills
4 109 Colin McCarthy, Miami, ILB Titans
4 122 Chris Hairston, Clemson, T Bills
4 127 Rashad Carmichael, Virginia Tech, CB Texans
4 130 Jamie Harper, Clemson, RB Titans
5 133 Johnny White, North Carolina, RB Bills
5 152 T.J. Yates, North Carolina, QB Texans
6 171 Quan Sturdivant, North Carolina, LB Cardinals
6 173 Byron Maxwell, Clemson, DB Seahawks
6 180 Tyrod Taylor, Virginia Tech, QB Ravens
6 181 Richard Gordon, Miami, TE Raiders
6 192 Matt Bosher, Miami, P-PK Falcons
7 218 Ryan Taylor, North Carolina, TE Cowboys
7 221 Da’Rel Scott, Maryland, RB Giants
7 224 Markus White, Florida State, DE Redskins
7 225 Anthony Allen, Georgia Tech, RB Ravens

ACC Selections by Rounds

First 3
Second 12
Third 4
Fourth 5
Fifth 2
Sixth 5
Seventh 4

ACC Selections by Teams

North Carolina 9
Miami 8
Clemson 6
Florida State 3
Virginia Tech 3
Maryland 2
Boston College 1
Georgia Tech 1
NC State 1
Virginia 1

ACC boasts top cornerback duos

March, 24, 2011
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The Florida State cornerback tandem of junior Greg Reid and sophomore Xavier Rhodes led all cornerbacks in 2010 in passes defended.

Oh, by the way, they're baa-ack.

Reid finished 10th nationally in passes defended (17) with 14 pass deflections and three interceptions. Rhodes ended the year ranked 16th nationally in passes defended (16) with 12 pass breakups and four interceptions. According to the ACC, no other pair of cornerbacks in the nation had more passes defended than Reid and Rhodes combined (33). Only Oregon’s defensive back combo of cornerback Cliff Harris (23) and safety John Boyett (14) had more total passes defended, but Boyett played safety, not cornerback.

The Virginia Tech cornerback combo of Jayron Hosely and Rashad Carmichael finished fourth nationally with 28 passes defended, but led all combos with 13 passes intercepted.

Can the Hokies keep it up without Carmichael?

Kyle Fuller, one of two true freshmen to play in 2010, is next in line. He had six pass breakups last season, but it will be a lot to ask to compensate for the lost interceptions.

ACC and the NFL combine

February, 4, 2011
2/04/11
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The official list for the NFL combine has been released. A total of 48 players from the ACC have been invited to audition for the NFL from February 23 – March 1. When categorized by school, it's somewhat of a reality check to see how many of the best players in the conference are moving on, and which programs will take the biggest hit. It's impossible not to wonder how good North Carolina could have been had all of the following players remained eligible. The Tar Heels will send the most players to the combine with 11.

Here are the players who will represent the ACC:

BOSTON COLLEGE (3)
  • Anthony Castonzo
  • Rich Lapham
  • Mark Herzlich
CLEMSON (7)
  • Da'Quan Bowers
  • Marcus Gilchrist
  • Chris Hairston
  • Jamie Harper
  • Jarvis Jenkins
  • Byron Maxwell
  • DeAndre McDaniel
FLORIDA STATE (3)
GEORGIA TECH (3)
MARYLAND (3)
MIAMI (9)
NORTH CAROLINA (11)
NC STATE (2)
VIRGINIA (2)
  • Danny Aiken
  • Ras-I Dowling
VIRGINIA TECH (5)
This morning we looked at the main recruiting needs for the Atlantic Division. Here are the priorities for each team in the Coastal Division:

DUKE

Offensive line: The Blue Devils will have to replace one starter in center Bryan Morgan, and it’s still a relatively young group, but with several redshirt sophomores on the roster, the staff wants to load up two grades behind them to fully stock the position for the future.

Defensive line: This has always been Duke’s deficiency, which means it will always be a priority to catch up and build depth. The Blue Devils will have to replace two starters in Wesley Oglesby and Patrick Egboh. Noseguard Charlie Hatcher will be a redshirt senior.

Cornerback: Duke only loses one starter, cornerback Chris Rwabukamba, but it’s another position that has been weak and needs better athletes.

GEORGIA TECH

Offensive line: The early departure of Nick Claytor to the NFL didn’t help the depth, but there were still several young players who gained valuable experience and others who redshirted to help the depth. While no true freshman is likely to make an immediate impact, the staff is still looking to build the numbers up front.

Linebacker/defensive line: The Jackets need to find more athletes who are suited for Al Groh’s 3-4 scheme. Fast athletes who are versatile enough to play a hybrid role, with the ability to move in space, will be a priority in this class.

MIAMI

Quarterback: With Jacory Harris being a senior, A.J. Highsmith moving to defense, and Spencer Whipple struggling in what little time he has played, the position needs a boost. It didn’t help that Teddy Bridgewater reneged on his commitment.

Linebacker: This is a position former coach Randy Shannon had put an emphasis on building, and there are young players and depth, but it was also a veteran group in the 2010 two-deep, with mainly juniors and seniors.

Wide receiver: The upperclassmen did all of the work in 2010, with Leonard Hankerson leading the way. Travis Benjamin, Aldarius Johnson and Laron Byrd will all be seniors. An influx of young talent is needed.

Defensive end: The staff is looking to improve the depth here, get stronger up front, and build upon the success from 2010. Marcus Robinson, Adewale Ojomo, and Micanor Regis will all be seniors.

NORTH CAROLINA

Tailback: Injuries depleted this group in 2010, and Anthony Elzy, Johnny White and Shaun Draughn were both seniors. Ryan Houston was able to redshirt and will return as a fifth-year senior, but the Tar Heels need more dependable runners and a foundation for the future.

Defensive line: The Tar Heels have to prepare for some departures, especially on the interior, where all four players on the two-deep roster in 2010 were juniors.

Secondary: UNC will have to replace three starters in the secondary this spring, and three backups this year were juniors. Because of the NCAA investigation, this is a group in which backups had to develop quickly, so there are some experienced younger players, but the group still needs to reload.

Tight end: The loss of Zach Pianalto and his backup, Ed Barham, leaves the position thin.

VIRGINIA

Offensive line: With starting right guard B.J. Cabbell gone, starting center Anthony Mihota a senior, and starting left guard Austin Pasztor a senior, the staff has to prepare for some departures. Morgan Moses and Oday Aboushi are talented young players, but the rotation needs more of them.

Defensive line: End Zane Parr’s decision to leave early for the NFL draft hurt the position’s depth, and the Cavs will also have to replace John-Kevin Dolce at tackle. Three other players in the two-deep will be rising seniors, and with Virginia switching back to a 4-3 defense under Mike London, the Cavs have to rebuild up front.

Secondary: Cornerback is of particular concern, as Chase Minnifield will be a senior, and starter Mike Parker will graduate.

VIRGINIA TECH

Running back: The early departures of Ryan Williams and Darren Evans to the NFL left David Wilson as the only tailback with any significant experience. Overall, the Hokies have four tailbacks on their current roster.

Defensive line: The Hokies will have to replace redshirt senior starters Steven Friday and John Graves, and starting left end Chris Drager will be a redshirt senior this year.

Wide receiver/tight end: Starters Jarrett Boykin and Danny Coale will be seniors, and tight end Andre Smith will graduate.

Secondary: Half the players on the two-deep roster against Stanford were either juniors or seniors, and the Hokies will have to replace rover Davon Morgan and cornerback Rashad Carmichael.

ACC sends 18 to Under Armour Senior Bowl

January, 18, 2011
1/18/11
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The ACC will have 18 players representing the conference next week in the Under Armour Senior Bowl in Mobile, Ala. It's the second-highest total for a conference behind the SEC, which has 22. The game is scheduled for 4 p.m. ET on January 29th in Mobile’s Ladd-Peebles Stadium. The game and all practices will be televised by NFL Network.

“This is a very talented group and all are extremely deserving of a Senior Bowl invite,” senior bowl president and CEO Steve Hale said in a prepared statement. “We’ve always had great success with ACC players with guys like Philip Rivers and D’Brickashaw Ferguson performing extremely well during Senior Bowl week and we fully expect this year to produce more future NFL stars from the conference.”

Clemson, Miami and North Carolina lead all ACC teams with three representatives each. The players from Clemson, Boston College, North Carolina, NC State, Georgia Tech and Virginia Tech are all new additions to the roster. Miami’s Colin McCarthy and Virginia’s Ras-I Dowling are also newcomers, joining their previously announced teammates on the Senior Bowl rosters:
  • Boston College: Anthony Castonzo, OL; Mark Herzlich, LB
  • Clemson: Marcus Gilchrist, DB; Jarvis Jenkins, DL; DeAndre McDaniel, DB
  • Florida State: Rodney Hudson, OL; Christian Ponder, QB
  • Georgia Tech: Anthony Allen, RB
  • Miami: Allen Bailey, DL; Leonard Hankerson, WR; Colin McCarthy, LB
  • North Carolina: Kendric Burney, DB; Da’Norris Searcy, DB; Quan Sturdivant, LB
  • NC State: Nate Irving, LB
  • Virginia: Danny Aiken, DS; Ras-I Dowling, DB
  • Virginia Tech: Rashad Carmichael, DB

Third time's the charm for Hokies

January, 3, 2011
1/03/11
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FT. LAUDERDALE, Fla. -- Unlike Stanford, which has never been to the Discover Orange Bowl, Virginia Tech has its routine here in South Florida. The staff knows where everything is, the layout of the land, and it's figured out the best schedule that works for the Hokies. This is the program's third trip to the Orange Bowl in four years, having also gone following the 2007 and 2008 seasons.

This one, though, carries the most meaning because of how Virginia Tech began the season.

The players and coaches will tell you that every appearance in a BCS bowl is special, but this week they've also conceded that this one is a little more so because of their 0-2 start.

“First, winning the [Atlantic Coast Conference] championship game to get here, that does a lot for the fan base, for the recruiting," said senior cornerback Rashad Carmichael. "Being able to go out and perform and hopefully win the Discover Orange Bowl, it gives everyone a chance to see us. It is a great opportunity to show what we are made of -- especially for us where we started off 0-2 and to come back to win 11 straight -- we deserve a top game that everybody is going to watch. The Discover Orange Bowl is definitely that. This is my third one and I remember my first two like it was yesterday. Everything I did in my first two Orange Bowls, I tried to come back and do the exact same thing because it is a great experience.”

Discover Orange Bowl preview

January, 2, 2011
1/02/11
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This is the big one for the ACC, a chance for Virginia Tech and the conference to make a statement on the national stage against the No. 4 team in the country. Virginia Tech enters this game with an all-time record of 1-26 against teams ranked in the top 5 of the AP poll, and the Hokies are 0-22 in such games away from Blacksburg, Va.

This is Stanford’s first Orange Bowl appearance and second BCS bowl appearance. At 11-1, Stanford is trying to finish a season with as few as one loss for the first time since 1940 (10-0). The Cardinal have already set a school record for most wins in a season. There’s plenty to play for in the Discover Orange Bowl. Here’s a quick preview:

WHO TO WATCH: The quarterbacks. Stanford’s Andrew Luck is a projected first-round NFL draft pick, and Virginia Tech’s Tyrod Taylor was the ACC’s Player of the Year after leading the Hokies on an 11-game winning streak. They’re major reasons why their teams are ranked among the top 20 in the country in scoring offense. Both have been invaluable to their respective teams, both have given defenses fits, and both are too good to miss.

WHAT TO WATCH: Virginia Tech’s secondary against Stanford’s receivers. Cornerbacks Jayron Hosley and Rashad Carmichael will have to win their matchups, especially when safeties Davon Morgan and Eddie Whitley line up closer to the box. Stanford receiver Doug Baldwin is one of Luck’s top targets, and Carmichael will be tasked with disrupting that connection. The Hokies’ pass efficiency defense is No. 8 in the country, while Stanford is No. 7 in passing efficiency.

WHY WATCH: These programs have gone on remarkable runs this season and come a long way. Stanford made a turnaround from 1-11 in 2006 to a school-record 11-1 this year. Virginia Tech made a turnaround from its 0-2 start to win 11 straight and become the first team to go undefeated in ACC play since Florida State in 2000. Both have an opportunity to finish the season with unprecedented success.

PREDICTION: Stanford 35, Virginia Tech 31. The difference in this game will be Stanford’s ability to run the ball. If there has been one weakness in the Hokies’ defense this year, it’s been at linebacker, where injuries and youth have provided some bumps. Virginia Tech’s run defense has been average, but when the Hokies dare to load the box, Luck can beat them with his arm.

ACC's lunchtime links

January, 2, 2011
1/02/11
12:00
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Live from Ft. Lauderdale, it's the lunchtime links ...
FT. LAUDERDALE, Fla. -- Virginia Tech coach Frank Beamer was reluctant to travel all the way from Blacksburg, Va., to Delray Beach, Fla., to woo a recruit until one former player persuaded Beamer to put in the effort to get to know a kid named Jayron Hosley out of Atlantic High School.

Former cornerback Brandon Flowers, also a graduate of Atlantic High, didn’t have to say much -- only that Hosley was just like him.

“He told them, ‘he might even be better than me,’” Hosley said with a smile. “That’s a big compliment coming from Brandon, being a great corner that he was coming out of Tech. That was big.”

[+] EnlargeJayron Hosley
AP Photo/Michael DwyerSophomore cornerback Jayron Hosley grabbed eight interceptions this season.
Hosley is only a sophomore, but if this season has been any indication of what lies ahead, Beamer might want to send Flowers a little thank-you note. Hosley enters the Discover Orange Bowl against Stanford tied for the national lead in interceptions with eight and leads the country in interceptions per game with .67. He was a first-team All-America selection by the Walter Camp Foundation, and will be integral to the Hokies’ chances of an upset over Stanford, which features a sure-fire first-round NFL draft pick in quarterback Andrew Luck (if he comes out).

“J-Hosley, man, he definitely brings a lot to the table,” said cornerback Rashad Carmichael. “He’s a playmaker -- I think one of the most pure corners I’ve ever seen. When he first came on campus, I was like, 'this guy’s a corner. That’s what he do.'”

Hosley, who grew up about 30 minutes from Sun Life Stadium, said he will have 15 or 20 family members in the stands, “depending on how many tickets” he can get.

“My family is definitely looking forward to it,” Hosley said. “They want me to go out there and put on a show and do what I’ve been doing all season. They want to see me grow even more.”

So does secondary coach Torrian Gray, who’s had to “push and nudge” Hosley to be a little more aggressive. Gray said Hosley had the ability to play as a true freshman last year, but lacked a sense of urgency to be a starter.

“He’s a very quiet, laid-back kid,” Gray said, “almost too laid-back for my personality because I want you to be in it, communicate, talking, and that’s not how Jayron is. That’s the reason for his progression being kind of slow, but he’s a smart football player. Once he gets it, he’s got it.”

This year, Hosley got it -- just ask NC State.

Hosley had six tackles, four pass breakups and three interceptions against quarterback Russell Wilson, one of the top quarterbacks in the ACC. He clinched the win against the Wolfpack with a 42-yard interception return for a touchdown. He also had a critical fourth-quarter interception he returned 32 yards in the win at Miami, and two interceptions against North Carolina.

“I’ve always said when he first got here as a true freshman he has an ‘it factor,’ and you can’t teach it, whatever it is,” Gray said. “His ‘it’ is to be able to make interceptions, make plays on the ball and finish plays. For him to have some of the games he’s had, kept us in games or won some games for us, I can say that kind of took me by surprise for him to come on this quickly.”

Hosley has also been an electric returner, and brought a punt back 80 yards for a touchdown in the win over Central Michigan. He has returned 19 punts this year for 239 yards (12.6-yard average) and a touchdown. He has 37 tackles this year, including one for loss, and seven pass breakups.

“I’m glad we came and got him,” Beamer said. “He’s just an exceptional player. He’s kind of got it.”

Flowers had ‘it’ too.

ACC's lunchtime links

December, 29, 2010
12/29/10
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We'll bid farewell to yet another ACC coach this afternoon, when Maryland's Ralph Friedgen coaches his final game in the Military Bowl Presented By Northrop Grumman.
CHARLOTTE, N.C. -- Virginia Tech linebacker Bruce Taylor is questionable to return with a stinger in his shoulder, and linebacker Lyndell Gibson is probable to return, according to a school spokesman. It looks like Rashad Carmichael (ankle) will see some playing time in this half.

Pregame observations

December, 4, 2010
12/04/10
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CHARLOTTE, N.C. -- Florida State coach Jimbo Fisher loves having a competitive advantage, and if that means having both Christian Ponder and E.J. Manuel on the field for warm-ups, so be it. Both quarterbacks were out there throwing, and Ponder didn't seem to be hindered by his elbow, but there's no way to know right now how much pain he is in, if any. At one point during warm-ups, Manuel was taking snaps from starting center Ryan McMahon.

On Virginia Tech's side, the Hokies will use warm-ups to determine the status of cornerback Rashad Carmichael, who was listed as probable with an ankle injury on the injury report. He was in full uniform and out stretching with the team, which is progress from a week ago, when he didn't dress.

The cold here today won't help any injured player stay loose. Weather.com is calling for rain/snow (40 percent chance of precipitation) and 28 degrees tonight.

Ryan Williams says 'no thanks' to returns

November, 15, 2010
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Virginia Tech running back Ryan Williams was expected to take over kickoff return duties against North Carolina this past weekend after No. 3 tailback David Wilson was diagnosed with mono. Instead, the job fell to Jayron Hosley and Rashad Carmichael.

"Ryan decided he'd rather not do that," coach Frank Beamer said. "You want a guy back there who wants to be there. I'm not sure what Ryan's reason was, but it was his decision."

Virginia Tech is fortunate it has enough talented athletes that quite frankly, it doesn't really matter who's back there. There are plenty of options. So it makes sense that Beamer is looking for players who want to be there. He's got the luxury of auditions.

"When you're talking about punt returners and kickoff returners," Beamer said, "they've got a lot of say there as far as whether they want to do it or not."

Carmichael and Hosley should be the returners against Miami on Saturday. As for Wilson, his status is still unclear. It will be announced on Thursday's injury report.

"You hope you've got him, that's for sure," Beamer said. "He's feeling great. He's feeling really good. I know Coach [Billy] Hite talked to him yesterday morning."

Defensive end Chris Drager's status will also be updated on Thursday.
BLACKSBURG, Va. -- Following Virginia Tech’s 0-2 start to the season, there was some “finger pointing,” according to linebacker Bruce Taylor. Quarterback Tyrod Taylor said there were "a lot of people on the team going different ways.” Tight end Andre Smith said there was “a little bit of disconnect.”

So they decided to do something about it.

The seniors on the roster called a players-only meeting in the team auditorium on the eve of the season's third game against East Carolina game. Each senior stood up and talked about how much work they had put into their collegiate careers and how much the season meant to them.

[+] EnlargeDavid Wilson
Bob Donnan/US PresswireDavid Wilson is expected to take over the lead back role in Blacksburg.
“We just preached to the guys and talked about what was in our hearts that day,” said defensive tackle John Graves. “I think it took effect immediately. We had a lot of adversity in the ECU game and we overcame it. .. The guys that we have on this team, they just keep fighting and fighting, and you just have to respect that.”

The ability to rally has become this team’s identity. Not only did it climb out of an 0-2 start and back into the BCS Standings after an embarrassing FCS loss to James Madison, Virginia Tech has trailed by double digits in four games this season and won three of them, including Thursday night’s 28-21 win over Georgia Tech.

The Hokies were down 14-0 after one quarter, but with Georgia Tech quarterback Joshua Nesbitt sidelined with a broken arm, they pulled together for a comeback and sealed the win with David Wilson’s blazing 90-yard kickoff return. It turned into a wild, back-and-forth game that was a microcosm of the entire ACC -- impossible to predict. The one constant in the league this year, though -- at least since Sept. 11 -- has been Virginia Tech.

With the win, the Hokies remained the only undefeated team in conference play. In order for anyone else in the Coastal Division to have a shot, Virginia Tech would have to lose two of its next three games. The Hokies have back-to-back road games looming at North Carolina and Miami before closing the season at home with rival Virginia.

And this Virginia Tech team doesn’t look like it’s going to fold anytime soon.

“It’s a completely different team from the standpoint of guys being together,” said Bruce Taylor, who had a career-high 14 tackles and had two sacks. “In the beginning of the season, there was a lot of finger pointing, guys wondering why we’re losing. Nobody had the answer, so we kind of got separated, but when we had that meeting after the 0-2 start, guys really came together and started playing as a team.”

It’s been the difference in their season.

While Tyrod Taylor has gotten a lot of the attention, Virginia Tech has benefited from three talented tailbacks and a group of wide receivers able to catch the ball in traffic and hang onto it. The defense, which had to replace seven starters heading into this season, has still made game-changing plays under longtime defensive coordinator Bud Foster.

Senior Rashad Carmichael’s fourth-quarter interception of backup quarterback Tevin Washington in the end zone ended Georgia Tech’s final attempt at an upset. It also likely ended the Yellow Jackets' chances of defending the ACC title.

Virginia Tech got what it needed in all three phases of the game -- a collective effort that was missing in September.

“It’s huge, especially in comeback wins like this,” Smith said. “We don’t want to have individuals, or groups. When we’re all on the same page, that’s when you see cohesion. As a team we talked about it. It’s easy when things are going bad to fall apart. As seniors and older guys on the team, we knew we weren’t going to let that happen.”

And in one of the most important games of the season, they didn’t.

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