Hokies turn up wins, turn down BCS talk

Third-ranked Virginia Tech prefers to let its performance on the field speak volumes

ACC notebook

College Football

November 02, 2005|By GARY LAMBRECHT | GARY LAMBRECHT,SUN REPORTER

Virginia Tech senior defensive tackle Jonathan Lewis said the Hokies hardly even talk about it. Coach Frank Beamer refuses to address it.

The simple fact is that third-ranked Virginia Tech is rolling along undefeated (8-0), with the stingiest defense in the land and one of the game's most dynamic playmakers in junior quarterback Marcus Vick, and the Hokies can't afford to slip.

The simple fact is Virginia Tech must keep winning to make up ground on No. 2 Texas in the BCS standings and keep alive its hopes of playing in the Jan. 4 Rose Bowl national championship game. If the Hokies knock off visiting, No. 5 Miami on Saturday and possibly earn a berth in the first Atlantic Coast Conference title game on Dec. 3, then presumably meet, then beat Florida State on that night, they could find themselves in Pasadena playing for the biggest stakes. Or not.

"I hear it from the regular students a lot more than I do from the team," said Lewis, one of the tone-setters for the nation's No. 1 scoring defense (9.1 points per game). "If you're taking care of your business week in and week out the way you're supposed to, you don't have to talk about it. We just need to keep concentrating on flying to the ball."

The Hokies have that down pat. Unlike the occasionally inconsistent Vick, Virginia Tech's defense just keeps repeating itself with its size, speed and sure tackling. After giving up seven points during an overwhelming, three-game stretch early in the season, the Hokies manhandled two good offenses from Maryland and Boston College by allowing a combined 19 points in their past two victories.

"A great performance one week can turn into a horrible performance the next," Lewis said. "We're pleased so far, but we've still got to get through another season."

No jinx

Georgia Tech wide receiver Calvin Johnson came into the ACC with a huge splash in 2004, and there is no sophomore jinx in the league's reigning rookie of the year this year. Through seven games, Johnson continues to set the standard for ACC wide-outs.

Johnson, 6 feet 4, 225 pounds, leads the conference with 627 yards and an average of 89.6 yards per game. He has gained 17.4 yards a catch, scored four touchdowns, and is bidding to become the first Yellow Jacket to lead the league in receiving since Harvey Middleton did so in 1996.

And the big, fast, graceful kid from Tyrone, Ga., who already seems to have NFL first-round draft pick written all over him, is developing a mean streak.

"Teams are trying any way they can to double-cover me. They're trying to get in my face. Defensive coordinators are trying to get me a lot more this year," said Johnson, who drew 10 pass interference and defensive holding calls as a freshman and has attracted four this season.

"[Johnson] realizes those guys are out to snatch, grab, do anything they have to," Georgia Tech coach Chan Gailey told the Atlanta Journal-Constitution. "Calvin realized he has to be as physical as they are."

Johnson figured to be a quick study in 2005. Last year, he was just the second true freshman, and 11th in league history, to earn first-team, all-ACC honors.

Et cetera

Clemson fifth-year senior quarterback Charlie Whitehurst has moved up to sixth on the ACC career passing list with 9,019 yards. He has completed 61.9 percent of his third-down attempts this year for 20 first downs and three touchdowns, and has eight career, 300-yard passing games.

North Carolina State's fortunes have tumbled, and the 3-4 Wolfpack has to travel to Florida State this weekend, but junior defensive end Mario Williams has come alive again. Williams has seven sacks over the past two games and is fourth all-time at N.C. State with 19 sacks.

From the what-is-it-good-for department: Duke has forced at least one turnover in 22 of its past 23 games, but the Blue Devils (1-8, 0-6) are not moving from the cellar of the ACC's Coastal Division.

gary.lambrecht@baltsun.com

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