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Hokies Have A Chance To Lock Up Coastal Division In Chapel Hill

by Brittany Gropp
November 13, 2010

The matchup between Virginia Tech (7-2, 5-0 ACC) and Georgia Tech (5-4, 3-3 ACC)
on Thursday was a thriller. But thanks to a kickoff return touchdown by David
Wilson and an interception by Rashad Carmichael with eight seconds left, the Hokies
secured a 28-21 win and remain the only undefeated team in conference play.

Ironically enough, this week the Hokies will be cheering for the Yellow Jackets.
That's because with a Virginia Tech win at North Carolina (6-3, 3-2 ACC) and a
Georgia Tech win over Miami, the Hokies can clinch the Coastal Division.

The Tarheels currently sit in third place in the Coastal Division, but they can't be
counted out. The bunch has proved to be quite resilient this season.

Between NCAA investigations and injuries, a total of 31 UNC players have missed at
least one game this season. Yet Carolina has managed to pull off six wins in their last
seven games.

"To go through that turmoil at the beginning of the season," said tight end Andre
Smith, "and to lose some huge playmakers and athletes that they have and for them
to still be doing as well as they are is definitely great. It shows a lot of character."

The biggest difference between Georgia Tech and UNC is the way they operate on
offense. Georgia Tech relies on their running game on almost every play, but the
Tarheels are a throwing team.

"For 10 days we were focusing on run, run, run, run," said defensive back Eddie
Whitley. "Now we're back to 'let's get back to the backpedal.' 'Let's go ahead and get
back to other things like that.' We're getting pass oriented."

One of UNC's biggest threats in that pass-oriented offense is their quarterback, T.J.
Yates. Yates threw for 439 yards and three touchdowns in the Tarheels win over
Florida State last week.

"T.J. is a good friend of mine," said Taylor. "And he's playing at a high level right now.
He's playing as one of the best quarterbacks in the ACC."

Fortunately for the Hokies, Taylor is also playing as one of the best quarterbacks in
the ACC. And he's working to establish himself as the best quarterback to ever play
at Virginia Tech, too.

Last week Tyrod became the all-time leader in total offense at Tech. Now, he is just
363 passing yards shy of breaking Bryan Randall's record as the all-time leader in
passing yards.

One person who may help him to break that record is Andre Smith, who's been a key
target for Taylor in the red zone all season long.
"I think that we definitely have some chemistry going on here," said Smith. "We
always have, but I think I've done a better job of getting open, finding holes, and
creating more separation between me and the defender."

So far this season, Smith has 14 catches for 137 yards and five touchdowns.
According to Tyrod, there is a good chance that number will increase against
Carolina. He feels like Tech's tight ends and receivers have an advantage going up
against the Tarheels' secondary.

Whether it's throwing the ball or running it, the Hokies are going to be eager to
win on Saturday, especially after last year's Thursday night loss to Carolina at Lane
Stadium. The loss was Tech's only loss to UNC since joining the ACC in 2004.

While the Hokies have all of the motivation they need to pull off a win over the
Tarheels, they won't have all of the players they would like to. Defensive end Chris
Drager will not play due to "lingering effects from a hit" during the Georgia Tech
matchup. In addition, runningback and return man Wilson will be out with
mononucleosis.

The Hokies take on North Carolina in Chapel Hill on Saturday. Kickoff is at 3:30.