Rarely has Georgia Tech coach Chan Gailey had more reason to celebrate one of his players going to class.
Only two days after Correy Earls suffered what was originally feared to be a serious spinal injury at Virginia, the freshman receiver attended classes.
``It's an answer to prayer,'' Gailey said.
Earls, from Macon, Ga., was carried off the field on a stretcher Saturday after colliding with Virginia defensive end Jeffrey Fitzgerald.
Earls was rushed to the University of Virginia Medical Center, where he passed a series of radiological tests and was released on Sunday.
``He's got a neck brace,'' Gailey said. ``From what I understand, everything was cleared. Really, he said it feels more like a case of whiplash than anything. He doesn't have headaches like a bad concussion. All of those are great positives.''
Even with his Yellow Jackets were suffering their second straight Atlantic Coast Conference loss, Gailey said he felt more like a parent than a coach when Earls stayed down after the collision.
``You start to get nervous,'' Gailey said.
``It is a scary moment, to be honest with you,'' Gailey said. ``I've been very blessed through the years, I've never had a major, major injury. We're all so pleased and thankful that everything is OK.''
Earls caught two passes for 21 yards and returned one kickoff 21 yards in Tech's 28-23 loss to Virginia.
KICKING WOES: Considering Duke's perennial struggles, the Blue Devils can't afford to have trouble kicking an extra point or a short field goal.
But coach Ted Roof had to hold an open tryout this week for kickers due to Joe Surgan's lingering troubles. Last year, Surgan made only 3 of 10 field-goal attempts. This year he is 1-for-4 on field goals while missing a pair of extra points.
``You'd like to think you can run out there and kick a PAT and we can,'' Roof said. ``But when you're a team that doesn't have a large margin for error, you've got to make those things.''
At least one kicker made an impression during the tryouts. On Tuesday, Roof said that ``Number 96'' - a freshman club rugby player named Will Snyderwine - might get to travel with the team to Saturday's game at Miami.
But considering Surgan has performed well in practice only to struggle on gameday, Roof wasn't getting his hopes up.
``Doing it in practice and doing it in games are two entirely different things,'' he said.
GOOD COMPANY: T.J. Yates is a redshirt freshman, but the North Carolina quarterback reminded coach Butch Davis of an eventual Hall of Famer - only not in a good way.
Yates was sacked four times and threw four interceptions last week by South Florida, bringing to mind a performance from 16 years ago when Davis was an assistant with the Dallas Cowboys and Philadelphia sacked Troy Aikman 11 times.
``I saw poor Troy go through one of the most brutal days I've ever seen a quarterback ever have to go through,'' Davis said. ``It doesn't make you happy, and you certainly hate seeing your quarterback hit that much, but if they're strong mentally and the team grows around him, he'll get through it.''
SAD SACK: Maryland is experiencing sack problems this season.
The Terrapins (2-2) have already permitted 16 sacks compared to 19 all last year. Coach Ralph Friedgen has no idea where to begin in his effort to correct the shortcoming.
``That's not just all on the offensive line. It's about running the routes, throwing the ball on time, assignments,'' he said. ``It's a multifaceted problem we're trying to solve.''
It might be even worse if not for the agility of quarterback Jordan Steffy.
``He's getting hit a lot. We're lucky he's mobile, or there would be even more sacks,'' Friedgen said. ``We've got to get him some help there.''
The defense, meanwhile, has only recorded six sacks in four games. What to do?
``We have to beat people. It's not a big secret,'' Friedgen said. ``It's something that we've got to get better at.''
SCHEME VS. TALENT: Given the choice, Clemson's Tommy Bowden would rather have a great scheme over top talent.
``I've had both scenarios,'' Bowden said this week.
While coaching Tulane, Bowden went 11-0 with the Green Wave in 1998. He missed the team's bowl victory because he accepted the Clemson job.
``We didn't have as many weapons, but we had a pretty good scheme,'' Bowden said.
His offensive coordinator then was current West Virginia coach Rich Rodriguez.
There have been other points of his career where Bowden has strong talent, yet didn't go as far.
``If you held me down and tied my hands down and made me make a choice, I'd pick scheme over talent,'' Bowden said.
Clemson is off to a 4-0 start for the first time in seven years. Bowden hopes that indicates he's blending a strong gameplan with talented players.
Bowden said with running backs James Davis and C.J. Spiller, a productive quarterback in Cullen Harper and strong receivers such as Aaron Kelly, the Tigers are moving closer to that goal.
``I think we can kind of get to that level,'' Bowden said. ``Then I think you can maintain a high level of productivity every year, back to back to back.''
AP Sports Writers Aaron Beard in Durham, N.C., Pete Iacobelli in Clemson, S.C., David Ginsburg in College Park, Md., and Joedy McCreary in Chapel Hill, N.C., contributed to this report.

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