NCF Nation: Tampa 0815

Posted by ESPN.com's Heather Dinich

 
 AP Photo/Rob Carr
 Virginia Tech's Frank Beamer celebrates on the podium after the Hokies defeated Boston College, 30-12, Saturday in the ACC Championship.

Following Virginia Tech's 30-12 win over Boston College in the ACC championship game, offensive coordinator Bryan Stinespring found defensive coordinator Bud Foster on the sideline and practically jumped into his arms. They hugged each other like they were long lost brothers.

Or, like two coaches who had been through a trying season in a year during which player development was critical. For the first time all season, there was time to exhale.

"Without a doubt we feel good about what we did this year," Foster said. "We did a great coaching job. We're going to pat ourselves on the back right now because you had ... a lot of key players that you had to replace that were great football players that won two ACC championships and two Coastal Division championships. To see where we were and where we are now, I'm proud of our players, I'm proud to be associated with this staff. We kept fighting every week. We weren't pretty, but we did what we needed to do."

Both Boston College and Virginia Tech were entirely different teams than the ones that faced each other in the title game a year ago. The Eagles were without quarterback Matt Ryan, their leading rushers and several key starters on defense. The Hokies had to replace all of their top playmakers on both sides of the ball. While they looked different, the results were the same.

For the second straight season, the Hokies couldn't beat the Eagles during the regular season, but avenged the loss in the title game. Virginia Tech won the ACC title for the third time in five seasons and became the first program to win the ACC title game twice.

"I think the ACC has brought out the best in Virginia Tech," coach Frank Beamer said. "I know the ACC has been great for us, and I hope we have been good for the ACC."

As the clock expired, cornerbacks Davon Morgan and Victor "Macho" Harris found Beamer and gave him the obligatory Gatorade bath. Beamer soaked it up with a smile and raised both fists in the air in celebration and the Gatorade dripped off his nose. Considering all of the obstacles the Hokies faced in reaching the title game, this was might have been the most rewarding because it was the most difficult to achieve.

Of the 70 players Beamer brought to last year's ACC championship game, 37 Hokies played in their first ACC title game this season.

"It was a great feeling, we've had a lot of ups and downs this year," Beamer said. "We have a great family atmosphere. It started with the coaches and trickles down to the players. We played through it. We had injuries, suspensions. But we stayed together through it all. It just felt great standing up there."

It wasn't just the fact that the Hokies won, it was how convincing they looked in the process. Virginia Tech's game plan was to stop Boston College's running game and force inexperienced quarterback Dominique Davis to throw it. It worked.

"When they take something away, you have to be able to do something else," coach Jeff Jagodzinski said. "We just didn't throw it effectively good enough today."

Beamer said he doesn't care how the team wins.

"These guys find a way to win," he said. "Close, by a bunch. It was good to be able to breathe at the end of the game for a change."

Posted by ESPN.com's Heather Dinich

 
 AP Photo/Rob Carr
 Virginia Tech quarterback Tyrod Taylor turned in a strong MVP performance in the Hokies' 30-12 win over Boston College in the ACC Championship Saturday.

TAMPA, Fla. -- Virginia Tech running backs coach Billy Hite had heard the griping from outsiders all season that the Hokies' run-based offense was too predictable. On Saturday afternoon, after putting up 30 points against one of the nation's best defenses in the game that mattered most, Hite finally had an answer for the critics:

"The only thing predicable about us is we're going back to the Orange Bowl and we've won the ACC championship," Hite said in the midst of his team's post-game celebration. "Y'all print that.

"I'm serious."

Led by quarterback Tyrod Taylor's MVP performance, the Hokies' offense put together its most complete game of the season in a 30-12 win over Boston College in the ACC championship game. The numbers weren't flashy, but they were productive. The progression of Taylor, combined with the development of the Hokies' young receivers, allowed Virginia Tech to mix it up and keep a stingy BC defense -- that had held each of its past five opponents to under 100 yards rushing -- off-balance most of the afternoon.

Taylor scored two rushing touchdowns to put the Hokies ahead 14-0 in the second quarter. It was an unusual cushion for a team that had the closest margin of victory or defeat in the NCAA this year at 7.3 points. The Hokies were able to run the ball against the ACC's top rushing defense, which was holding conference opponents to 85 yards per game. Darren Evans had 114 yards and one touchdown.

"It takes a lot of pressure off, especially if the opposing offense gets behind the sticks," defensive coordinator Bud Foster said. " ... It gives us a rest, too."

Taylor completed 11 of 19 passes for 84 yards and one interception, and he accounted for 30 rushing yards, including an 18-yard burst on third-and-nine in the third quarter.

"He is slippery," Boston College coach Jeff Jagodzinski said. "We had him in the back end a couple of times and he got away. He is a good athlete and he made plays. Players do that in championship games and he did that. He is a good one."

Virginia Tech was smart in how it attacked BC's defense, using simple pass reads and short routes. If nobody was open, Taylor was able to use his feet to make a play. Both of his touchdown runs originated as pass plays.

"I feel very comfortable," Taylor said. "Guys have stepped up, as well as other people going out and trusting your teammates and allowing them to make plays for me."

Virginia Tech coach Frank Beamer said Taylor just needs more experience.

"He can throw the ball well. He is a threat to make you miss. I think the more times he reads pass coverages, knows where to go with the ball and when to go with the ball. He has to continue to get better and better. I said it and I will say it in front of him -- he is going to be a terrific quarterback."

The Hokies completed a high percentage of passes, were 7 of 17 on third down, and they controlled the clock. Offensive coordinator Bryan Stinespring said it was the most complete effort the offense had had all season.

"Everything coincides a little bit here, too," Stinespring said. "As our receivers have progressed, it's enabled (Taylor) to progress farther along, too. There's a confidence level and a timing factor that doesn't get a lot of ink, but it is, it's not just something that happens, either. Really, Tyrod has progressed exceptionally well."

True freshman receiver Dyrell Roberts finished with a team-high four catches for 44 yards. He spent the summer working out with Taylor, and said they've always know what each other was thinking, but it took a while to put it together in game situations.

"At the beginning of the season we were a little rocky, a little shaky, not knowing what each other was doing," Roberts said. "The deeper we got into the season we started building a good chemistry. It's pretty much where it needs to be. It's way more fun.

"Going into the season people were doubting us, and saying the receivers need to start making more plays, and they doubted me, saying when am I going to start making plays. I had some ups and downs this season but it feels great to silence the critics and make some plays in the biggest game of the season."

Hite would be inclined to agree.

Posted by ESPN.com's Heather Dinich

TAMPA, Fla. -- Virginia Tech is going to the Orange Bowl, and they left no doubt about which team was better today. Boston College is likely headed to Nashville, for the Music City Bowl.

The difference today was in the quarterbacks and turnovers, and the Eagles struggled with both. BC's defense was exposed, and the offense couldn't convert its third downs. Virginia Tech, on the other hand, had one of its best days converting third downs.

Consider this season another heck of a coaching job by Frank Beamer and his staff.

I'm heading down to the interviews now, check back later.

Posted by ESPN.com's Heather Dinich

TAMPA, Fla. -- Virginia Tech is winning the special teams and field position battle, and controlling the clock, and Boston College quarterback Dominique Davis is struggling.

The Eagles have been inept on third-down conversions (3-of-11), and have turned the ball over twice. Davis' passes haven't been accurate, and the timing looks off. He finished the third quarter 0-for-9 with an interception. The Eagles can't tackle Virginia Tech quarterback Tyrod Taylor in the open field, and he's gotten loose plenty of times.

There's no question the Hokies look like the better team today, and a better team than they have all season. The few fans that are here are starting to trickle out of Raymond James Stadium.

Posted by ESPN.com's Heather Dinich

TAMPA, Fla. -- This isn't what Virginia Tech's offense has looked like all season. Against Boston College, it's looking much better. In fact, the Hokies' offense probably looks the best it has all year.

The young receivers really started to come on last week against Virginia, but the Hokies were ineffective in the red zone. Not this time.

Freshman receiver Dyrell Roberts has made two outstanding, athletic catches that looked like impossible grabs. One was on third-and-4 in the first quarter, and the other came on second-and-10. Both were for first downs, and the second was with a BC defender on his back.

The new and improved version of this offense, combined with a gritty effort from Tech's defense, has kept the momentum in the Hokies' favor for the most part. The Hokies' defense allowed one big play, and stopped one:

  • Montel Harris' 51-yard run after the catch led to a 16-yard touchdown pass to Rich Gunnell.
  • Victor "Macho" Harris stifled a would-be scoring drive by wrapping up Gunnell and knocking the ball out of his hands around the 5-yard line.

Tyrod Taylor looks like he has matured since the beginning of the season, and he is making good decisions. The help he's getting from his receivers is making for a more balanced offense. His most glaring mistake was an interception to safety Paul Anderson. Mark Herzlich deflected it and Anderson returned it 15 yards. That was the first sign of the Boston College defense that was expected to show up today.

Here are two notes for you:

  • This is the first time in ACC championship game history the score has not been tied at halftime.
  • Of the 12 offensive touchdowns in the championshp game, five have come from quarterbacks rushing, and four of those five have come from Virginia Tech quarterbacks.

Posted by ESPN.com's Heather Dinich

TAMPA, Fla. -- If Virginia Tech continues to move the ball and control the clock like it did in its second possession, the Hokies will have the edge in this game. They were even able to run it up the middle a few times against burly tackles B.J. Raji and Ron Brace.

Virginia Tech put together an impressive 10-play, 61-yard drive that ate 4:49 off the clock. It looked like an effective offense. The five-yard scoring play didn't look like a called run, but Tyrod Taylor saw an opening and took it. The Hokies defense is playing with a purpose, and putting pressure on Dominique Davis. The Eagles are struggling to get anywhere and have just 25 yards on the ground.

Here's a stat for you: Virginia Tech's touchdown was the first offensive first-quarter touchdown in ACC championship history.

Posted by ESPN.com's Heather Dinich

TAMPA, Fla. -- Hello from Raymond James Stadium, where the one word that comes to mind is quiet. There's not a lot of traffic around the stadium, but the good news is that unlike in Jacksonville, there aren't giant tarps covering sections of the stadium. It's about 65 degrees and sunny this morning, a perfect day for a game.

It's hard not to think how much more of a buzz there would be if Miami and Florida State were playing in this game. It's the perfect location for it, and it's just what this championship game needs to inject some excitement into it. By the time the game moves to Charlotte in 2010, Miami and FSU will probably be playing in it, if it doesn't happen next year.

There's no question, though, that Virginia Tech and Boston College earned their way here today. They did it behind their defenses and with solid coaching. Both teams lack superstar playmakers, but that doesn't mean there aren't talented players worth keeping an eye on today. Here are a few of the best:

BC No. 94 LB Mark Herzlich -- He has six interceptions this season, the fifth highest total in the country. Only one other linebacker in the nation -- Baylor's Joe Pawelek -- has as many as six picks. Herzlich is the Eagles' leading tackler with 98, and he has seven pass breakups, three sacks for 14 yards, and 10 total tackles for loss.

BC No. 41 RB Montel Harris -- He has broken the school freshman rushing record with 798 yards on 155 attempts.

VT No. 1 CB Victor "Macho" Harris -- He is second in the country with six interceptions, and has returned two for touchdowns. He has 42 tackles, eight catches for 63 yards, and is averaging over 10 yards per punt return. Not bad for a full day's work.

VT No. 5 QB Tyrod Taylor -- He needs 179 rushing yards to establish a single-season record for a Tech quarterback. The Hokies will need his feet in this game against a run defense that has held each of its past five opponents under 100 yards rushing. He is the team's second leading rusher at 66.1 yards per game.

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