BLACKSBURG, Va. (AP) -Tailback was never expected to be a question for Virginia Tech this season, after Branden Ore's first-team All-Atlantic Coast Conference performance in 2006.
But Ore's season started slow after he missed some summer workouts to attend to personal issues at home, and he's only now starting to hit his stride. Even he admitted he was at his best last week with 81 yards and two touchdowns in a 44-14 victory against Miami, and said his health and an improving offensive line share the credit.
``I'm 100 percent now. I know it's late in the season, but it happened,'' he said of finally shaking some nagging injuries that conspired to make him less effective.
``Ribs, ankle, hamstring. Just a bunch of little things all at once that made something big for me,'' Ore said. ``I would say after that bye week I was kind of getting ready and getting back to myself. Right now, I'm just happy to be a part of this.''
``This'' is another late season run by the No. 10 Hokies, one that finds them a victory away from another trip to the ACC championship on Dec. 1. The winner of Saturday's game against Virginia at Charlottesville plays Boston College for the title.
The Hokies' chances seem far better with an effective Ore taking handoffs from Sean Glennon and Tyrod Taylor and slashing through line, making some defenders miss and running over others as he did twice for touchdowns against Miami.
While coach Frank Beamer showed his dismay at Ore's lack of conditioning by dropping him to third on the depth chart at the start of preseason camp, and others have questioned whether the league had caught up with his moves, Ore said he never wavered in his confidence that when he felt better, the results would improve.
``I knew what was going on with me,'' he said after the Miami win. ``I just wasn't speaking on it. I was just kind of trying to play through it and let things happen.''
Ore probably never looked more like the Branden Ore of old than on his first carry against the Hurricanes, bolting 22 yards off the right side into Miami territory.
``They definitely were holding me back a little bit,'' he said of the injuries. ``I wasn't able to do some of the things I wanted to do, but that's over and done with. I'm healthy now and it's time to look forward. This is a crucial part of our season.''
It's also a time when Beamer and the Hokies look for more of the same.
``He's getting healthy,'' defensive end Chris Ellis said. ``I don't look for him to hit the 100-yard mark; I look for him to hit the 200-yard mark because I know he has that in him. I just want him to finish strong for us so we can lean on him.''
Beamer, too, thinks it helps that the offensive line, riddled by injuries and inexperience for much of the year, is finally back together and getting better.
``Branden is fine. We just have to block for him,'' Beamer said.
While Ore and the offense struggled earlier, the defense held the opposition to two touchdowns or less seven time as the Hokies won eight of their last nine games.
Now that the offense has topped 40 points in consecutive games against Florida State and the Hurricanes, Glennon sees only more good things in the future.
``We're at an all-time high in confidence level going into the biggest game of the season and one of the biggest games in this rivalry,'' he said.
``We picked the right time to start clicking.''

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