|College Football Preview: North Carolina at Virginia Tech|
|Thursday, 27 September 2007 05:20|
Virginia Tech coach Frank Beamer will be up against a familiar foe Saturday as his team kicks off its conference schedule.
Beamer resumes his rivalry with North Carolina coach Butch Davis when his 17th-ranked Hokies (3-1) host the rebuilding Tar Heels (1-3, 0-1 ACC).
Beamer is 5-1 against Davis, who coached at Miami from 1995-2000. Davis, in his first season at North Carolina, led the Hurricanes to a 51-20 record and four Top 25 rankings despite inheriting a team hobbled by sanctions that restricted the number of scholarships available in his first three seasons.
Now, Davis is trying to turn around a Tar Heels team that has endured five straight non-winning seasons. Beamer, meanwhile, is in his 21st season at Virginia Tech and tied for third with Ohio State's Jim Tressel for victories among active coaches with 201.
Oddsmakers from SBG Global have made Virginia Tech -18 point spread favorites (View College Football odds) for Saturday's game, the over/under has been set at 42 total points (Game Matchup). Current public betting information shows that 89% of bets for this game have been placed on Virginia Tech -18 (View College Football bet percentages).
"They've had so much consistency. When you're at a place for such a long period of time, from the first day a guy walks in as a true freshman and he's there for five years, it's the same as it's been for the last 15 years," Davis said of Virginia Tech. "They just learn that culture. ... That's kind of where we need to get it."
Beamer likes to get scoring out of his defense and special teams, and last week, the Hokies returned an interception for a touchdown and also scored on a punt return in a 44-3 rout of William & Mary. Virginia Tech improved to 62-8 since the start of the 1993 season when it scores a touchdown on defense or special teams.
"Beamerball is back," said Brandon Flowers, who returned his interception 49 yards to give Virginia Tech a 20-0 first-quarter lead. "The defense came out ready to play."
Freshman quarterback Tyrod Taylor, who took over as the Hokies' starter after a 48-7 loss to LSU in their second game, was 6-for-13 for 72 yards in the first half Saturday and threw a 34-yard touchdown pass to Branden Ore before Beamer emptied his bench in the third quarter.
The touchdown pass was the first this season for Taylor, who has completed 50 percent of his passes (31-of-62) for 421 yards without an interception.
"Offensively, I think we did some good things, but there are also some things that Tyrod will learn each week," Beamer told his team's official Web site. "I think he's going to improve from week to week, and as he improves, our offensive football team will improve also."
Beginning Saturday, the Hokies play a stretch of eight games against ACC foes that will take them to the end of the season. Next weekend, they travel to No. 13 Clemson.
"I'm pleased with our effort today, but it's serious time now," Beamer said after last week's win.
The Tar Heels have dropped three straight since beating James Madison in Davis' first game as coach. They were outgained 428-164 and didn't get into the end zone until the final minutes of Saturday's 37-10 loss to then-No. 23 South Florida.
Redshirt freshman T.J. Yates, who had thrown for 901 yards and nine touchdowns in his first three games, was held to 85 yards and threw four interceptions against the Bulls. North Carolina lost its previous two games to East Carolina and Virginia by a total of five points.
"For our football team to get better, we have got to become more multi-dimensional on offense," Davis said. "We cannot rely solely on T.J. Yates, expecting to throw for 350 yards a game and three or four touchdowns, and everything's going to be hunky dory."
The Tar Heels are 9-15-6 against Virginia Tech and have lost all three meetings since the Hokies joined the ACC.
North Carolina is opening a tough three-week stretch that includes home games against Miami and No. 16 South Carolina. The Tar Heels haven't beaten an out-of-state Football Bowl Subdivision team since 2005.
"You've got to look at these three games ... you look forward to these challenges against the powerhouses of the nation," cornerback Kendric Burney said. "We have nothing to lose. ... Virginia Tech, Miami, South Carolina, they're the ones with the pressure. They're the ones that have got the big BCS and all that. So we're just going to come out and play and have fun."
by: Anthony White - theSpread.com - Email Us
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