Even without postseason ramifications, many layers to Virginia Tech-U-Va. rivalry
Regardless of what happens Saturday afternoon at Lane Stadium, Virginia Tech will head to Charlotte and face either North Carolina State or Florida State in the ACC Championship game.Virginia's season, meanwhile, will end without a bowl game appearance. But for Coach Frank Beamer and his staff, there are many wide-ranging factors that make the battle for the Commonwealth Cup important.
The Hokies have a chance to become the first team since Florida State in 2000 to go undefeated in ACC play. That's an accomplishment Beamer informed his team of last week in a meeting, and he's brought it up to us reporters several times since. Virginia Tech would also continue its streak of 10-win seasons with another victory, and remain in line to win 12 games for the first time in school history
But more important to fans is keeping up Virginia Tech's recent dominance over its bitter rival. The Hokies have beaten Virginia 10 of the past 11 seasons, including the last six meetings. And while this weekend's result won't be felt in the standings, its effect on recruiting is paramount.
Even with Virginia Coach Mike London's renewed emphasis on in-state recruiting, Beamer doesn't believe one game will alter a recruit's decision. But trends do, and there's no doubt this rivalry has been one-sided ever since the George Welsh era ended in Charlottesville.
“I think the direction the program is going over a period of time, I think that does affect a kid’s decision," Beamer said Monday during his weekly teleconference. "I don’t think one particular game makes a difference, but I think over a period of time, it does affect a guy’s decision.”
Though London has had some early success recruiting the state of Virginia, Beamer said Monday he and his coaches don't worry about what others are doing on the recruiting trail. Instead they focus on what's made them one of the country's most stable programs over the years.
“We’re gonna do what we do and that is spending a long time building relationships with coaches here in the state and I think those guys know they can trust us and we’ll take care of their kids," Beamer said. "If they come to Virginia Tech, they’re gonna play at a high level. I think we worry about ourselves, how we do business, how we handle situations, the kids that we recruit. I think that ‘s where our emphasis is: Continue to do the things that we’ve done for a number of years here.”
I'll have a lot more on this later in the week, as I went down to the Hampton Roads area last month and learned some interesting things about the state of recruiting in Virginia. It may surprise you, but the battle between Virginia and Virginia Tech isn't the sole recruiting war going on down there.
Some more notes and quotes
*Though Saturday's hard-fought win over Miami surely took a toll physically on the Hokies, Beamer indicated they're no worse for the wear despite some heavy hitting from the Hurricanes. The coach said both cornerback Rashad Carmichael (ankle) and wide receiver Marcus Davis (concussion) are expected to play against the Cavaliers this weekend.
*When the schedule came out last spring, everyone who follows the Virginia Tech football program pointed to November as for when these Hokies would distinguish themselves. And with a home win over Georgia Tech and road victories against North Carolina and Miami now in the books, a defining statistic has emerged.
By forcing 12 turnovers in the past two games, Virginia Tech now leads the nation in turnover margin. The Hokies have 19 interceptions and eight fumble recoveries this year, while their offense has turned the ball over just 12 times. In the past three games alone, Virginia Tech has a +12 turnover margin.
“That’s one stat, no question it directly affects winning," Beamer said. "When you don’t turn it over and then you get turnovers – and the last couple games we’ve been really good at that – playing away from home you need that stat in your favor."
*One development to keep an eye on this week is the outside linebacker spot where sophomore Lyndell Gibson has seen the majority of snaps throughout the season. It was Gibson who got manhandled at the line of scrimmage when Miami running back Lamar
Thomas Miller took off on a 47-yard gain that helped the Hurricanes tie the score at 17 in the third quarter. From that point on, redshirt freshman Tariq Edwards got a steady dose of playing time in favor of Gibson.
Beamer has brought up Edwards several times in the past few weeks, saying he needed to practice better during the week but "when he gets in there, it seems like he does a pretty good job." Beamer wouldn't comment on whether the two linebackers would be battling for a starting spot this week in practice, but it appears there could be a change coming.
“Gibson is playing the most and has done okay," Beamer said. "I think Edwards has got a lot of ability. He’s got size, he has a quick step, he’s got a taller body. He’s got some things that I think tells you he’s a pretty good football player and could be a really good football player.”
*In what seems to be a weekly thing now, Beamer was asked about the exploits of cornerback Jayron Hosley. He now leads the nation with eight interceptions after he picked off Miami quarterback Stephen Morris, and his 31-yard return set up quarterback Tyrod Taylor for an 18-yard touchdown run that made the score 31-17.
Hosley is just one interception away from breaking the school record of nine set by Ron Davidson in 1967, meaning he played alongside Beamer in the Hokies defensive backfield. Of course, back then, the college football season was just 10 games long.
“They were afraid to come to my side so they challenged Ron over there, so Ron set the record," Beamer joked. "He was an athletic guy who had a great nose for the football. ... A lot of good players have come through here and haven’t been able to break it.”
| November 22, 2010; 2:06 PM ET
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