Both Techs again eyeing ACC division title
When the Techs get together, there’s usually a division title on
No difference this year.
No. 10 Virginia Tech controls its fate in the Atlantic Coast
Conference, while No. 20 Georgia Tech is in good shape though still
needing a bit of help to get to the championship game.
But this much is clear: The winner of Thursday night’s game in
Atlanta will take a major step toward claiming the Coastal Division
”You definitely have a leg up,” said Georgia Tech running back
Roddy Jones. ”In order to have that conversation, we have to win.
So we’re approaching this as the biggest game of the year. It’s
kind of like our championship game.”
That’s the way it’s been ever since the ACC split into a pair of
six-team divisions in 2005. The team that comes out on top in this
contest has gone on to win the division every time, with Virginia
Tech taking four titles, Georgia Tech the other two.
The Hokies (8-1, 4-1 ACC) merely need to win out to take the
crown and earn a spot in the Dec. 3 ACC championship game at
Charlotte, N.C. The Yellow Jackets (7-2, 4-2) have to win their
final two conference games and get a little assistance – Virginia
would have to lose one more time in a tough closing stretch that
includes a trip to Florida State and the traditional season finale
against its state rival.
At the moment, the Hokies are the only team that matters to
”Virginia Tech is always a great team,” Jones said. ”Anytime
you want to win the Coastal Division, you know you’re going to have
a battle against them.”
Even before the season opener, Jones and his teammates took note
of that prime-time contest late in the year.
”When we saw VT in November, we wanted to be in position where
it was a big game and it mattered. It does,” Jones said. ”It’s an
elimination game. People want a playoff. Well, we’re kind of in a
playoff format right now.”
While the home team normally has a big edge, leaving Blacksburg
hasn’t been much of a problem for the Hokies. They’ve won 11
straight road games – an ACC record, as well as the longest current
streak in the nation. Plus, this is the time of year when Virginia
Tech normally shines, going 24-2 in November since 2004.
”We want to finish out strong,” Hokies offensive tackle Blake
Georgia Tech comes in with the ACC’s best rushing attack,
averaging 328 yards per game out of a triple-option scheme that’s a
throwback to the wishbone of the 1970s. While the Yellow Jackets
usually line up only guy behind quarterback Tevin Washington, they
have two other de facto running backs that play out of the slots,
ready to block or swing around to take a pitch.
Actually, Washington has done the majority of the running
himself, leading the team in both carries (168) and yards (639) and
tied with Orwin Smith for rushing touchdowns (10 apiece). While
defenses generally prefer for the junior to keep the ball rather
than get it outside to speedier B-backs such as Jones or Smith
(who’s averaging 11.3 yard per attempt), that strategy backfired on
In Georgia Tech’s last game, Washington ran for 176 yards – the
most in school history by a quarterback – and broke off the two
longest gains of his career in a 31-17 upset of the then-unbeaten
”You need to be able to move the ball and keep the ball away
from them, but you’ve got to get some points,” Virginia Tech coach
Frank Beamer said. ”If you can ever get them behind, you’ve got an
advantage there. But it’s a tough outfit to play one time a year
and try to prepare for it and get your kids where they need to
Virginia Tech has certainly been stingy on the defensive side,
allowing the fewest points (15.4 a game) and the second-fewest
yards rushing (86.3) in the ACC. But the option presents plenty of
unique challenges in an era when teams are used to facing the
spread or pro-style passing offenses.
”They make you be very exact,” Beamer said. ”It happens very
fast and very quick and if you’ve got a wrong step in there,
they’ve probably got you.”
The Hokies will try to control the clock with an offense built
around first-year starting quarterback Logan Thomas and junior
running back David Wilson, who’s ripped off six straight 100-yard
games – the longest streak in Beamer’s quarter-century as
A bit undersized in its 3-4 scheme, Georgia Tech has been
vulnerable against a power running game. In an upset loss to
Virginia – a game that could come back to haunt the Yellow Jackets
in a tiebreaker situation – the defense surrendered 272 yards on
the ground. Overall, they rank eighth in the conference against the
Wilson will try to take advantage.
”With David, the sky’s the limit,” DeChristopher said. ”Any
game is an opportunity for him to break out, but he’s been having
100-plus games for us. As an offensive lineman, that’s definitely a
win for us. We just like seeing that. So I’m sure he’ll finish off
the year strong.”
Washington also is looking for a strong finish.
Last year, he got the first significant playing time against the
Hokies after Joshua Nesbitt was injured. Washington guided the
Yellow Jackets to a game-tying touchdown with 2 1/2 minutes left,
but Wilson returned the ensuing kickoff for a touchdown that gave
Virginia Tech a 28-21 victory.
While Washington still smarts over that loss, Jones believes the
experience helped to speed the learning curve. When Washington took
over the starting job this season, he was ready.
”He got put into probably the toughest situation you can last
year,” Jones said. ”But he’s done a great job of running the
offense and really becoming the driving force for this offense.
He’s done a great job of taking it by the horns and being the
leader we knew he could be.”
AP Sports Writer Hank Kurz in Richmond, Va., contributed to this
Follow Paul Newberry on Twitter at