Extra time helping No. 16 Hokies prep for Ga Tech

Virginia Tech is ranked 16th in the country and viewed by some

as a national championship contender.

The Hokies will have to be ready to look the part when they open

against Georgia Tech and its triple option Monday night.

Having extra time to prepare for the Yellow Jackets’ dynamic

offense has been a plus, Hokies coach Frank Beamer said Thursday.

They have also spent time preparing to face the Georgia Tech

defense because it also presents some different challenges.

For cornerback Kyle Fuller, a defensive leader and signal

caller, the added time has been especially helpful.

”It is definitely a little bit more difficult than going

against a regular offense just because of how unique this offense

is,” he said. ”You have to be very focused on the key reads and

things like that, so it’s definitely good to have a lot of extra

time to prepare for these guys. But we’ve been preparing all

summer, just looking at past games, anything we can get.”

The Hokies’ recent history also serves as a reminder that

starting fast is a huge plus.

Virginia Tech has opened with big games before, with little

success recently. The Hokies lost to East Carolina to start the

2008 season, fell to Alabama to begin 2009 and stumbled against

Boise State to open 2010. The biggest differences between those

neutral-site games and this one: The Yellow Jackets are Virginia

Tech’s chief rival in the Atlantic Coast Conference Coastal

Division and the Hokies are playing at home.

Add two consecutive losses to end last season, and Logan Thomas

and company are raring to go.

”Somebody asked me earlier today. `Does coming off the last two

games make it harder to get ready for the first game?”’ he said.

”… It makes it that much easier. It makes us want to come out

and work in the summer. It makes us want to get better in the

spring. I think we’ve done so, and having Georgia Tech as the first

game is awesome because we get to play a really meaningful game the

first game of the season. Georgia Tech is a great team and we think

we’re a great team as well, and it’s a good test of confidence for

week one.”

In the seven-year history of the ACC championship game, the

Hokies have represented the division five times, Georgia Tech

twice.

”It doesn’t get any harder than this. This is a team that, if

we don’t win, they win the division, so that shows how important

this game is,” Fuller said. ”The coaches have put that in our

head … so that’s all we can do is come out, prepare and be

ready.”

Virginia Tech has won the last two meetings against Georgia Tech

and has nine starters back on defense. The newcomers are safeties

Detrick Bonner and Kyshoen Jarrett. Linebackers Bruce Taylor and

Jeron Gouviea-Winslow are back after injuries shortened their 2011

seasons.

Even with the inexperience on the back end of the defense, the

Hokies’ goal is to make Yellow Jackets quarterback Tevin Washington

throw the ball.

”Really, we’re focused on the run and that’s what we want to

stop,” Gouviea-Winslow said. ”I think if we can get them to pass

the ball … that’s where we’ll have the advantage. Put the ball in

the air; give us an opportunity for turnovers, incomplete passes,

loss of downs. I wouldn’t be surprised if they came out and tried

to throw the ball on us, but I don’t think that’s what they’re

gonna do.

”It would be interesting if they did do that. I think it would

help us actually, if they put the ball in the air.”

Washington, in his second full season as the starter, was third

nationally in rushing yards by a quarterback last season with 987,

and third in rushing touchdowns with 14. He was also among the

leaders in passing efficiency, but completed just 74 of 150

attempts.

Against the Hokies, he ran for all three of Georgia Tech’s

touchdowns in their 37-26 loss at home.

”He hurt us on some plays last year,” Beamer said. ”He’s run

(the offense) enough where he feels very comfortable in it and I

think there’s no question about his ability to run that offense.

He’s hit some big passes against us last year throwing the

ball.”

The Hokies hope to force him to try to do it again on Monday

night.